Thursday, June 3, 2010

Logistics Group Rush To Volcano Disaster Site

DHL Disaster Response Team Answer Guatemala's Call
Shipping News Feature

GUATEMALA – The problems faced in Europe by the recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland, with the resultant ash clouds disrupting air traffic, pale into insignificance when compared to the disaster unfolding this week south of Mexico. The double disaster of Pacaya, the giant active volcano which sits less than 20 miles from Guatemala City erupting, coupled with tropical storm Agatha sweeping the region has left over 100 dead, thousands homeless and the country virtually cut off from international assistance.

With the reopening of the main airport on Tuesday the DHL Disaster Response Team (DRT) for Americas were amongst the first to arrive to try to assist in alleviating some of the logistical problems associated with any such disaster. A team of 20 DRT volunteers deployed yesterday at La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City and began to set up a temporary, professional warehouse, including sorting facilities and making a full inventory of donated goods. Depending on the situation the mission is expected to last for 7-10 days initially.

Due to its international presence in over 220 countries, DHL can deploy its trained volunteers quickly to any severely affected area around the globe. Out of the 450 DHL employees in Guatemala, 32 are trained DRT volunteers, essential in a country where volcanoes cause problems regularly, most of whom usually work in different business units of DHL Guatemala. Everywhere, the DHL DRTs work on a pro-bono basis as part of the companies Corporate Responsibility Programme.

DHL can respond in this fashion partly because of the agreement they signed last year with the National Coordinator for Emergency Disaster Risk Reduction (CONRED). Once called on by the local authorities, this Memorandum of Understanding gives the DRT the option for a swift deployment as well as the immediate set up of the necessary logistics for the handling of relief goods at the airport.

In 2005, DHL entered into a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) in the area of Disaster Management. DHL's global DRT network consists of three teams which are assigned to a specific geographic region covering Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and Africa. Each of these teams consists of a pool of about 80 specially trained DHL employees, who - in addition to their normal job - have volunteered to take part in the pro-bono humanitarian efforts.

The DRT can be deployed to a crisis area within 72 hours and for a period of up to three weeks. By that time, the initial wave of international charter aircraft bringing in aid supplies has normally subsided to a level that is manageable by local authorities. Up to fifteen members of the team are present at any point in time during the deployment.

Gilberto Castro, Disaster Response Team Manager for Americas, said: "Due to our global presence we have 32 DRT volunteers in Guatemala ready for an immediate deployment. In times of disaster, time is essential and we are glad to be able to provide a quick and efficient service to support the local relief efforts."

Rainer Wend, Executive Vice President Public Policy and Responsibility, says: "It is important that the worst affected areas in Guatemala will receive essential goods such as water, food and aid material as quickly as possible. I am therefore glad that we have been asked by the Guatemalan government to bring in our logistics expertise at the main airport to help manage incoming goods and so make the relief efforts run as quickly as possible."

Photo :- Pacaya erupting ( copyright CCAS licence)

The Tropical storm Agatha has also left around 100 dead in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Those wishing to donate to these and other causes can do so via the Red Cross Site HERE.