DHL, United Nations implement airport preparedness program at SJJ

Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ), Image courtesy of Milan Suvajac, Wikimedia Commons

While the state of North Carolina struggles to reconnect flooded supply chains in the wake of Hurricane Florence’s Sept.14 landfall, the United States is not alone in its resolve to better prepare for large-scale weather disasters. Deutsche Post DHL Group and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are teaming up to prepare Sarajevo International Airport (SJJ) in Bosnia and Herzegovina for potential natural disasters by kicking off DHL’s Getting Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) program this week, in anticipation of future extreme weather events spurred on by climate change in the region.

A 2014 flood that impacted parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina – which affected 1 million people and destroyed infrastructure, businesses and farms – caused Sarajevo’s worst flooding in more than 120 years, and constituted a state of emergency in the region. SJJ played a crucial role in aiding the effort, serving as the hub for importing relief supplies from abroad, making its preparedness all the more important, looking forward.

“During times of emergency and disaster it is essential to have a trained team and a customized surge response plan in place,” said Chris Weeks, director of humanitarian affairs for Deutsche Post DHL Group. “All team members should know how to handle the dramatic rise in air traffic and the flow of goods and people that typically follows a disaster. In the region, Armenian and Kazakh airport authorities are already GARD-trained and therefore well prepared for a surge in air traffic.”

DHL’s GARD program was developed in partnership with the UNDP in 2009 to help prepare airports for natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, landslides, wildfires and floods. The Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Communications and Transport, military representatives and humanitarian response experts will be part of the effort to implement GARD at the hub from Sept. 24 to 28, during which time participants and trainers will evaluate the airport’s current level of preparedness, conduct training exercises, and develop an action plan to ensure that the airport is prepared for future disasters.

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