Effective Disaster Preparedness in Seychelles: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Deutsche Post DHL Group join forces to optimize airport logistics for disaster preparedness (by UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles)
Airport preparedness for disasters programme named “Get Airports Ready for Disaster”(GARD) training workshop was held in Seychelles, 22-26 August 2016.
On account of its unique location, topography and landscape, Seychelles are regularly impacted by natural hazards such as cyclones, extreme rainfall, flooding and mudslides.
In addition, climate change will exacerbate these risks making Seychelles highly vulnerable. Earlier this year, Very Intense Tropical Cyclone Fantala struck Seychelles causing significant loss and damages and in 2013 Cyclone Felleng caused USD 8.4million (SR 104 million) of total damages and losses and affecter key sectors such as transport and tourism. Disasters continue to cause damage to assets both public and private infrastructure resulting into enormous economic losses. This calls for a holistic approach towards disaster risk management that focuses on the entire disaster cycle – starting from preparedness to response, recovery and risk reduction and underscores the need for development to be risk-informed. A crucial part of this is to develop a strong and informed action plan for the airport to respond at its optimum to natural hazards.
The “Get Airports Ready for Disaster” (GARD) training included about 40 participants with senior officials from Seychelles Airport Authority, airline companies, aviation safety experts, police department, travel administration of Seychelles as well as national disaster management authorities and representatives of the United Nations. Representative of airports in Mauritius and the Maldives were also present to share kearning and experiences. The inauguration of the training was performed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Transport, HE Joel Morgan.
Specifically, the training supports to conduct a capacity assessment of the airport and prepares the airport workers to handle logistical challenges that typically follow disasters. Teaching them to cope with potential surges in air traffic – making aid delivery faster and more efficient as well as keeping the airport running under a high-pressure situation. In Seychelles, the airport assessment and the surge action plan derived by the participants clearly shows the necessity for immediate action:
- To strengthen and improve the airports capacities;
- To develop an integrated a national DRR action plan for emergencies. This would help better coordination at all level including airport operations.
The four-day training workshop in Seychelles was seen as necessary and very informant by all the attendees.
Vincent Luther from the Seychelles Police Defense Forces Headquarters also added: “We obviously discuss on issues regarding security but this has been my first exposure to discuss on issues touching on natural disasters. This has added to my knowledge and has changed my way of thinking in many aspects. As a representative of the Seychelles Police Defense Forces in the Division of Risk Disaster Management it will help us in planning sufficiently for Seychelles before a disaster occurs in our island. The workshop has provided better understanding for me in regards to disaster preparedness and how we can bring help and provide aid faster to the island.”
Rodney Zaine, from Seychelles Air Force commented that “This has been a very fruitful workshop, quite educational. I have met stakeholders in key agencies and I am confident that we are now more aware of our roles and responsibilities to ensure that the airport is safe and operational during a disaster.”
In addition to Seychelles, a GARD workshop was held in Mauritius. IN both of these workshops, neighbouring south west Indian Ocean island nations have been invited to participant. Additionally, GARD trainings have been realized at 33 airports in Armenia, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Turkey and Sri Lanka. More than 650 participants have been trained within the scope of the programme so far.
GARD is a global programme implemented by UNDP in partnership with Deutsche Post DHL Group. The project is funded by government of Germany. The trainers and the training materials are provided by Deutsche Post DHL for free of charge.