DHL Group disaster response team will extend its deployment in Nepal
Deutsche Post DHL Group’s Disaster Response Team (DRT) will extend its deployment till May. The extension comes after another heavy earthquake hit the region on 12 May and causing additional devastation to the area.
The DRT will continue to play a critical role in ensuring the Tribhuvan Kathmandu International Airport remains operational. The DRT was deployed less than 48 hours after the first earthquake struck on 25 April. As the country’s only international airport in a landlocked country, the airport is the main gateway for the international aid community to send relief goods into Nepal.
The 18-strong team of volunteers from DHL, all logistics experts and trained in disaster management, were deployed in three waves and tasked with improving logistics operations at Tribhuvan Kathmandu International Airport for incoming relief supplies. Over the last three weeks, the DRT handled over 2,000 tons of incoming relief supplies, sorting and moving goods with limited equipment into centralized airside warehouses run by the United Nations World Food Programme for further distribution by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The airport has one runway servicing both passenger and cargo aircraft, and can process nine planes at a time, with a 196 ton cargo weight restriction per plane. The airport’s capacity, coupled with a current lack of equipment and resources in the currently very demanding situation, are huge factors impacting the speed of delivery of relief goods to those in need.
Chris Weeks, Director for Humanitarian Affairs, DPDHL Group, said: “We are faced with recurring strong earthquakes and so this indicates that relief efforts will have to continue for quite some time. The Disaster Response Team takes care of a crucial part in the relief effort chain. When we first arrived, we had a big job to do in cleaning up the congested tarmac area which was filled with relief supplies – this is critical in an emergency situation. If we hadn’t done this, it’s likely the airport would have closed within the first 48 hours of the earthquake because the airport would have run out of space and equipment, and NGOs would have been unable to locate their aid and relief goods. We implemented a system to maximize the use of limited resources for ongoing relief efforts. Working closely with the civil aviation authorities, local military, international aid organisations and the UN, we have clarity on the daily flights coming in. We also set up processes to meet the cargo at the airside to make the necessary arrangements in the fastest possible time.”
Fast unloading at the small airport and expert warehousing has been key to keeping the airport open and ensuring the right equipment get to the appropriate relief agencies as fast as possible. For nearly three weeks, DRT has been involved in coordinating the arrival and distribution of food, shelter, medicines and water including over three million high-energy biscuits from the United States of America’s Department of Agriculture, a 35-ton inflatable hospital from Medecin sans Frontieres, solar lamps, tools for rebuilding and plastic sheeting. The team also managed one chartered DHL plane carrying goods donated by sponsors from the Middle East.
Gagan Mukhia, Country Manager, DHL Express Nepal, said: “The generosity of people can literally be overwhelming in an emergency such as this and aid comes in many sizes and forms. Some of the huge air cargo pallets initially had to be dismantled before we could move them because there just wasn’t the equipment to unload them as a whole.
“With the latest earthquake on 12 May, we are still able to continue with our DRT operations as we now have the equipment and systems in place to deal with the ongoing relief effort that Nepal will desperately need for many months ahead. Planes can now be unloaded quickly and aid distributed more efficiently to the Nepalese community.”
In addition to the ongoing voluntary work of the Disaster Response Team, DHL’s Aid and Relief commercial service has moved over 100 tonnes of relief goods for organizations like ShelterBox and Norwegian Church Aid. Additionally, bookings for over 90 tonnes have already been received for the coming weeks.
The DPDHL Group DRT comprises highly-trained volunteers who provide logistics expertise free-of-charge to help coordinate relief aid at the airport for further distribution to the victims in the speediest manner possible. The DRT network consists over 400 trained DHL volunteers, who can be deployed within 72 hours. Since 2005, the DRTs have been deployed over 30 times worldwide, with recent deployments including Vanuatu following the destruction caused by Cyclone Pam in March 2015 and Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.
GoHelp is the disaster management program of DPDHL Group and comprises the “Get Airports Ready for Disaster” (GARD) program and natural disaster response via the DRTs. In a partnership with the United Nations since 2005, DPDHL Group provides the UN with access to its core competence in logistics, its global network and the know-how of its employee’s free-of-charge. To date, GARD has been implemented jointly with the United Nations Development Program to more than 29 local airports in countries like Armenia, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Turkey and Sri Lanka. In cooperation with UNOCHA, DPDHL Group also established a global network of DRTs to support airports in the event of a natural disaster.
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DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.