Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Once Again the Freight and Logistics Sector Puts Its Expertise to the Very Best Use

Disaster Response Teams Aid Sufferers of Cyclone Idai
Shipping News Feature
SOUTHERN AFRICA – The essential nature of logistics could hardly be summed up better than the efforts to mitigate the tragedy of cyclone Idai, which damaged over 700,000 hectares of crops, and destroyed close to 200,000 homes, by those from the freight community like Danish freight groups DSV and German Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL).

DPDHL, which had its Disaster Response Team (DRT)in place to lend assistance, has just ended its first deployment in Africa. On April 12, the last DRT members moved out of Beira, Mozambique, where the team, in its time there, moved nearly 800 tonnes of incoming humanitarian aid from approximately 50 aircraft for further distribution to those displaced and affected by this vast natural disaster.

DPDHL Group's DRT was deployed at Beira Airport from March 24 at the request of the United Nations. 12 DHL volunteers from Mozambique, South Africa and United Arab Emirates worked in rotation across three teams. Over the course of nearly three weeks, the volunteers handled incoming relief goods and coordinated incoming humanitarian aid for the United Nations and international relief organisations. Chris Weeks, Director for Humanitarian Affairs at Deutsche Post DHL Group who headed up the deployment said:

"This particular deployment was ground-breaking for us in that it was our first mission to Africa. The challenges however were familiar and within the first few days of arriving the DRT firmly established its coordination expertise in the supply chain of incoming humanitarian aid. All too often the sudden influx of relief aid to an airport creates bottlenecks and aid is unable to get out in a timely manner. This was precisely the scenario the team was trying to avoid and able to do so successfully."

During their time in Mozambique, the DRT acted as a liaison between the Beira Airport Authorities (ADM) and the large humanitarian community who occupied a vast area at the airport. The team supported international relief organisations such as IFRC, UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, ASB, WFP, USAid and UKAid, and assisted with handling equipment, driving forklifts and high-loaders, and ensuring there was no build-up of incoming shipments. Stephen Cahill, Global Logistics Cluster Coordinator at United Nations World Food Programme, explained:

"Over 80 partners including the Government of Mozambique, NGOs, UN agencies and Red Cross teams are taking part in the humanitarian response following Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones ever to hit Africa and the southern hemisphere. The logistics expertise of Deutsche Post DHL Group's DRT complemented the relief efforts from all these different partners at Beira Airport. We are grateful to the DHL volunteers who worked tirelessly alongside the humanitarian community to help move relief items efficiently in order for those affected to receive help as quickly as possible."

The DRTs are part of DPDHL Group's GoHelp disaster management program, which it has operated in partnership with the United Nations (UN) since 2005. Through this partnership, the Group provides the UN and national disaster management agencies with pro bono access to its core logistics expertise, and the logistics skills of more than 500 specially-trained employee volunteers worldwide who can deploy within 72 hours after a natural disaster.

Since the partnership was launched, the DRTs have completed more than 40 deployments for different natural disasters in over 20 countries, most recently the team helped the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Palu, Indonesia in October 2018.