Getting Sarajevo Airport Ready for Disaster

To build resilience against future natural disasters, Deutsche Post DHL Group and the United Nations Development Program teamed up with Sarajevo International Airport, the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Communications and Transport, military representatives as well as other government officials and humanitarian response experts at Sarajevo International Airport to conduct their internationally recognized Getting Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) program from September 24 to 28.

“Creating a disaster resilient infrastructure which includes disaster ready airports is crucial in order to save lives and reduce economic loss”, said Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina Deputy Resident Representative.

“Better preparedness of all institutions involved to promptly act when disaster occurs and coordinate the response is a must.”

012 UNDP GARD Workshop Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, zamjenik rezidentne predstavnice UNDP-a photo Sulejman Omerbasic
Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov

In 2014, the flood that impacted parts of Bosnia was the worst flooding in 120 years and required authorities to declare a state of emergency. The floods affected one million people and destroyed infrastructure, businesses, livelihoods, farms and crops. Sarajevo airport played a key role in flying in relief supplies from abroad. As the effects of climate change continue to manifest themselves, Bosnia and Herzegovina expect to face more extreme weather challenges.

“During times of emergency and disaster it is essential to have a trained team and a customized surge response plan in place. 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,” said Chris Weeks, Director of Humanitarian Affairs for Deutsche Post DHL Group.

“Sarajevo International Airport is a strategically important airport in case of a natural disaster. In the Region Armenian and Kazakh airport authorities are already GARD trained and therefore well prepared for a surge in air traffic.”

Over 25 participating officials and experts will join the four-day GARD workshop led by Deutsche Post DHL Group and UNDP experts. During the program, participants and trainers will evaluate the current level of preparedness at the airport, conduct training exercises, and develop specific recommendations as well as an individual action plan to ensure that the airport is prepared for future disasters.

Armin Kajmaković, director of Sarajevo airport, underscored the importance infrastructural capabilities and efficient administrative procedures play in quickly and effectively channeling relief efforts from airports to affected communities.

“In addition to reassessing airport facilities and strengthening staff expertise, the workshop will lead to a series of follow-up activities including an action plan that we can use to build up our readiness for any potential emergencies,” Kajmaković said.

“We are committed to working together with all emergency counterparts to follow up on implementation and further strengthening our resilience.”

In 2009, GARD was developed by Deutsche Post DHL Group in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program with the aim of preparing airports in disaster-prone areas to handle the surge of incoming relief goods after a natural disaster occurs. It also enables the various organizations and aid agencies to better understand the processes at the airport in the aftermath of a disaster, which will help facilitate relief efforts and enhance overall coordination. To date, GARD workshops have been held at more than 43 airports in Armenia, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, the Maldives, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

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