Kazakhstan airports prepare to support disaster relief efforts

ALMATY (TCA) — Deutsche Post DHL Group and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will support Kazakhstan authorities in their efforts to build resilience against future natural disasters by conducting a five-day disaster preparedness training and assessment program at Almaty International Airport. The two partners will team up with airport and government officials and other humanitarian response experts in the Central Asian country to host their internationally recognized Getting Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) program from 18 to 22 September.

GARD was developed in 2009 by Deutsche Post DHL Group in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the aim of preparing airports in disaster-prone areas to handle the surge of incoming relief goods after a natural disaster occurs.

Over 50 officials and experts representing the administration of the Almaty International Airport, representatives from the Committee of Emergency Situation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Agency of Civil Aviation of the Ministry of Investments and Development and other humanitarian organizations will participate in the five-day GARD workshop, which will be led by specialists from Deutsche Post DHL Group and UNDP and with technical assistance of Center for Emergency Situation and Disaster Risk Reduction. During the workshop, the participants and trainers will evaluate the current level of preparedness at the airport, conduct training exercises, and develop specific recommendations and an action plan to ensure that the airport is prepared for future disasters.

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, airports play a critical role in channeling humanitarian teams and relief goods quickly to people in need. Besides having the necessary airport infrastructure and local transport connections to smoothly deliver lifesaving support to impacted communities, the team on site needs to be trained in the necessary protocols and know-how to handle the dramatic rise in air traffic and flow of goods and people that typically follows a disaster.

“Uninterrupted functioning and capacities of transport logistics to receive humanitarian cargo and admit rescue teams plays an important role in handling emergency situations and deliver critical services to people,” said Yuri Ilyin, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan. “With Almaty being prone to various major emergencies, I think it is important that the Almaty International Airport undergoes an assessment of its preparedness to working in emergency response situations. I am certain that the results of the seminar will help take comprehensive measures to enable the airport to be ready for emergencies of all kinds.”

“A clear and flexible action plan can help airport operators minimize logistics bottlenecks and better manage sudden influxes of relief aid, bulky supplies like food, water and medical supplies in the event of a natural hazard induced disaster,” said Chris Weeks, Director of Humanitarian Affairs for DHL. “The experiences of UNDP and Deutsche Post DHL Group in addressing disaster response and recovery in locations that are vulnerable to adverse events around the world have shown that an adequate level of infrastructure and effective logistical operations would not only save lives but also help reduce economic loss. It is very encouraging to see how the Kazakh government and the authorities at Almaty International Airport are prioritizing preparedness and incorporating it into action plans to better respond to any future disasters caused by natural hazards.”

Almaty is located in an active seismic zone and has an above-average risk of being impacted by earthquakes. It also lies in close proximity to Kyrgyzstan and Western China, two regions that have been affected by earthquakes in recent years. In addition, Kazakhstan is vulnerable to floods – melted snow caused major floods in various areas of the country in 2015 and April this year.

“Central Asia is highly prone to a variety of natural disasters, including floods, landslides and earthquakes in particular. Given that many countries in the region are landlocked, airports play a vital role in ensuring its overall resilience to potential natural hazard induced disasters and are critical to its emergency response capability,” said Armen Grigoryan, Climate Change/Disaster Resilience Policy Advisor, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub. “By developing strong and effective contingency plans to manage the flow of emergency relief goods to the people in need, the GARD workshop will support UNDP’s efforts in aiding the Government of Kazakhstan in mitigating the impact of any possible disasters in Kazakhstan and will also ensure that Almaty International Airport can play a supportive role in disaster relief efforts in neighboring countries.”

“As one of the largest cargo hubs in Central Asia, accounting for more than two-thirds of Kazakhstan’s air cargo traffic and with a CAT III-certified runway that can accommodate any aircraft type even in low visibility conditions, Almaty would play a significant role in any disaster response in the region,” said Aibol Bekmukhambetov, President of Almaty International Airport. “Working with international experts in the field of disaster response, we expect to develop a robust action plan that allows Almaty International Airport strengthen its role in channeling incoming relief goods to affected communities in the event of a natural disaster. In addition to assessing the readiness of our airport infrastructure and strengthening staff expertise, the workshop will lead to a series of follow-up activities including an action plan that we can use to bolster our response to any potential emergencies.”


Times of Central Asia