Tegucigalpa, Honduras - 6 March 2019. The Toncontín International Airport of Honduras developed its first disaster preparedness and response plan along with relevant protocols and procedures thanks to the participation of the National Risk Management System (SINAGER) and international organizations such as the Airport Council International (ACI) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
These efforts are supported by the global “Get Airports Ready for Disasters" (GARD) program. GARD is a public-private partnership between UNDP and Deutsche Post DHL Group with funding from the German Government. The aim of GARD is to coach airport managers and staff from disaster management agencies on how to prepare for disaster response. Since its inception, GARD workshops have been run in 23 countries, 46 airports and trained 1,100 staff.
“Managing disaster relief transport and distribution from airports to affected communities requires efficient operational procedures, and appropriate infrastructure capabilities. Developing strong relationships with all involved organizations is key to that effort,” said Ruben Claros, Head of Operations at Toncontín International Airport. “In addition to reassessing our airport facilities and strengthening staff expertise, this workshop allowed us to build up our readiness for potential emergencies.”
A disaster is by nature disruptive. Moreover, the need to ensure compliance with customs regulations, immigration, storage and movement of goods, and relief distribution can reduce the efficiency and speed of delivering received goods and services to an affected population.
“Air transport is crucial for timely humanitarian aid. Managing the logistics can be very complex as it involves military as well as civil entities, notwithstanding the other hundreds of stakeholders. Hurricane Mitch has taught us valuable lessons and particularly on the importance of airports preparedness,” said Alissar Chaker, Resident Representative a.i., UNDP.
Disasters, such as earthquakes and floods continue to seriously affect people and communities around the world and can wipe out development gains in minutes. In the last 20 years, more than 1.3 million people died and 4 billion were affected, with a cost of more than 2 billion dollars. Airports play a key role when a disaster strikes, enabling incoming goods to reach those in need at scale and evacuating injured population. But capacity to handle large scale operations often needs to be strengthened and coordinated long in advance with all stakeholders that have a stake in disasters preparation.