Gearing up for a stronger response, humanitarians gather in southern Germany for WFP-led simulation
The large-scale, inter-agency event is renowned for its intensity and puts participants in rigorous and realistic emergency scenarios. It is designed to test their response capacity across two cornerstones of any humanitarian operation: logistics and telecommunications.
Following the 2017 and 2018 edition, participants went on to respond to a number of large-scale emergencies including the Cyclone Idai operation in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
“I was on one of the first planes to land in Beira after the cyclone made landfall. The similarities between those first days in Beira and the gear.UP exercise were uncanny, like a mirror-image, but this time it wasn’t a drill, it was reality. There was no electricity, no communications, and extensive damage to logistics infrastructure” said Patrick McKay an Information and Communication Technology Officer for WFP.
“Gear.UP’s biggest strength is how real it is. It’s high-pressure, and it’s non-stop, but when things got hard, each and every person in my team collaborated, picking up tasks outside their expertise, and pulling together to get the job done. And this is also the reality of an emergency response,” said Julie Vander Weil who deployed as Logistics Sector Coordinator in Malawi following Cyclone Idai.
Collaboration is a core focus of the exercise and is critical to reach impacted communities faster during emergencies.
“Beyond our technical capacity, we often overlook the soft skills required to cope with the physical and mental demands in complex humanitarian emergencies. Gear.UP allows our colleagues from both clusters to not only use their technical know-how but more importantly work side-by-side in a live scenario, learning to coordinate and look out for one another. And that is key to strong, effective collaborations in future crises,” said Enrica Porcari, Chair of the ETC, CIO and Director of WFP Technology Division.
The event is one of the largest-scale humanitarian simulations globally, and one of the most important preparedness events on the ETC and Logistics Cluster’s calendar.
“Humanitarian crises are becoming longer and more complex, and climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural hazards. In every emergency response, logistics and telecommunications play a vital, life-saving function and the effectiveness is dependent on the hundreds of dedicated individuals driving humanitarian actions on the ground. Gear.UP provides an important opportunity to bring some of these responders together, enhancing their skills in a team-based environment,” said Jakob Kern, WFP Director of Supply Chain Operations.
This joint-cluster initiative is being hosted by THW (Bundesanstalt Technisches Hilfswerk), co-funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and the Government of Luxembourg and supported by Ericsson. The event is organised by the Logistics Cluster, ETC, Emergency.LU and THW.