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Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD)

Enhancing Airport Preparedness for Effective Disaster Response

Many countries around the world are and will continue to be prone to disaster risk, which may be further compounded by unsustainable development practices, urbanization, population movement, climate change impact, etc.  Airports serve as humanitarian hubs in disaster situations and are critical players in preparedness for response and recovery. They provide a critical service for the transport of relief personnel and material, but the surge in passengers, relief crews, media teams and huge quantities of cargo can limit the capacity of airports to act as efficient hubs for humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the preparedness needs of local airports may be underserved, placing additional burden on local responders. GARD contributes to national and airport preparedness programs that address this gap by offering a package of services that can be tailored to the needs of airports.

An airport can plunge into chaos when there is a humanitarian response going on. There are more flights, aid, emergency personnel than the airport can cope with. GARD aims towards increasing the efficiency, effectiveness and the impact of disaster response at the airports.

Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) is a public-private partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and DHL that addresses the need for enhanced preparedness and response capacity of airports in disaster situations. It helps airports and disaster managers assess airport capability to manage the influx of humanitarian aid and personnel in disaster response situations and develop an action plan to increase the response capacity in case of disaster and to support response operations at the airport.  

Who is eligible?

Developing nations at medium to high risk of sudden onset natural hazard related disasters (for instance, earthquakes or typhoons). 

Senior representatives of governments and major international airports in these nations who are committed to taking anticipatory action may apply to the GARD Program. The GARD Lifecycle illustrates the journey you can expect to undertake. If your country meets the selection criteria, the program is free of charge.

Strengthening Local Capacity to be Better Prepared to Respond

National ownership is the first step to success. A country interested in applying for GARD should identify and nominate GARD Co-owners.


A GARD trained airport  can create more capacity to handle flights, cargo, and passengers in disaster situations:   

1. Know your airport surge capacity
Capacity of airport personnel enhanced to manage disaster relief surge and respond efficiently to humanitarian needs. By knowing what resources are available today, you can better plan for a surge tomorrow. For example, what kind of airplanes can an airport handle with the existing equipment? If the government makes an international appeal for aid, how much can the airport manage? Airports close when they exceed their capacity.

2. Create more capacity with low-cost solutions
Airport preparedness action plan to be updated and aligned with national disaster risk reduction  plans. Identify impactful improvements. The government and airport collaborate to define next steps by developing ahigh impact GARD Action Plan with minimum costs.

3. Capacitate local experts in coordinating disaster response at airports
A well-connected, coordinated ecosystem/ network of stakeholders involved in preparedness, response and resilience-building working seamlessly. Disaster management specialists and airport staff can spot bottlenecks and identify effective solutions. You will have a greater awareness on how to collaborate for humanitarian response at an airport. You will also know who to contact in times of an emergency.

Airport Preparedness: Keeping a Critical Lifeline Open

Structured program

GARD is structured across different stages. The engagement at country level begins with the standard GARD workshop. The outcome of the workshop is the GARD Action Plan that guides what needs to be done to increase the response capacity in case of disaster and to guide response operations at the airport. The next stage is the implementation of the GARD Action Plan by GARD Owners (with support from GARD partners/ enablers where needed). Countries where GARD has been organized can also benefit from GARD Plus and the GARD Train-the-Facilitator programme. These two complementary services will be implemented systematically, with GARD Plus becoming compulsory for rollout one to maximum two years after the initial GARD workshop. Similarly, the GARD Train-the-Facilitator module will be deployed in countries foreseeing a territorial or national-scale rollout of GARD.

GARD workshop in Peru 2021

Who are the GARD Co-owners?

GARD Co-owners take ownership of the program and should be active and present throughout the activities in the Program. They ensure the execution of the action plan  -- a tool to put in place the findings. GARD Owners should be appointed from both the airport (required) and the national government ministry or authority mandated for disaster management (required). In some instances, it may be relevant to appoint a third GARD Owner from the national civil aviation authority (optional). The GARD Co-ownership model may include the following profiles:

  • If you are from the airport management, you will likely be the CEO. You see the value in going above and beyond the regulated safety and security standards. You can see how integral the success of an airport is to a nation's ability to withstand disasters. 
  • If you work for the government, you may be a senior leader from the National Disaster Management Agency or alternative government ministry with a mandate for disaster management. You see how resilient infrastructure in your nation saves lives and money. You see the interconnectedness between the airport and a coordinated national disaster response.
  • If you work for the civil aviation authority, you may be the Director General. You see that the aviation industry can be a trailblazer in disaster preparedness and can contribute to the Disaster Management community. Disaster preparedness at airports can be broader than the existing definition.
GARD Co-owners are senior leaders at the airport and the government ministry with a mandate for disaster management.

Tap on partner organizations' expertise

Trainers have direct experience with operating in humanitarian contexts at airports. Partner organizations contribute expertise, such as disaster risk reduction and humanitarian logistics, with experts on hand. We model a collaborative approach to disaster preparedness. 

How to apply

For more information, please contact:

Our worldwide disaster management activities

Disaster Response

In cooperation with the United Nations, we have established a global network consisting of around 900 specially trained employees who volunteer their time to be a part of our Disaster Response Teams.