MS. ANTHEA WEBB
This month, The Column sat down with Ms. Anthea Webb, the Bangkok-based Deputy Regional Director of World Food Programme (WFP) for Asia and the Pacific, to learn about her experience in disaster management. Having built her career as a humanitarian for over 20 years, Anthea has been involved in numerous emergency responses across the world, such as in Kosovo, China, and Indonesia. Throughout her professional journey, she has witnessed the evolution of technology – and while this has significantly increased support emergency responses – she still maintains that the “natural alarm” forms our best warning system.
Anthea’s interest in humanitarian work developed from her university days in Australia, where she was involved in fundraising campaign to support the Cambodian refugees in early 1990s. From there she chose to “park” her journalism degree and volunteer in a social project supporting Vietnamese asylum seekers in Hong Kong. She then moved to work in the Vatican City, Rome, and then joined the World Food Programme in 1998. Anthea believes the initial challenges she experienced in the humanitarian field were overcome due to her natural passion for learning.
“Among the people I’ve been pleased to work with, there is a real drive to keep doing things better. Every emergency is different but often, some of the patterns are the same. Each time we intervene, we want to go faster, make the outcomes for the affected people better, do it at a lower cost in a way that leaves the organisation and the community stronger to face the next emergencies.”
Anthea also acknowledges the presence of natural hazards as a part of life. She states that while we may not be able to avoid droughts, floods, cyclones, and earthquakes, we can be prepared to respond to the impacts. The single question to reflect on is “How we can do it better?” Reviewing her past experiences, the mother-of-two highlights that a greater challenge than logistics occurs when different agencies do not incorporate their planning for disaster response. Anthea believes that groups like the AHA Centre can help overcome this issue and focus on getting people to work together.
“For me, one of the most interesting outcomes from the Sulawesi response was how much closer it brought us to the other humanitarian Country Team members. Being forced together like that is really important, and it is really important to continue that relationship. Exercises, simulations, joint-projects and missions help us to understand each other’s ways of working, motivation and goals,” she said.
Anthea keeps in mind that disasters can strike at any time and highlights the importance of technology in forecasting the impact of disastrous events. One of the innovations that Anthea co-initiated with Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ) is VAMPIRE, that stands for Vulnerability Analysis Monitoring Platform for the Impact of Regional Events. VAMPIRE integrates and promotes data innovation through visualisation of traceable drought impact on vulnerable populations.
“The project started in 2015 when the world – particularly Southeast Asia and Indonesia – was facing a very strong El Niño and its significant impacts. When we saw how large the impact might be, we realised we didn’t have a fast system for forecasting what a big drought would mean for rice and food production in Indonesia, as well as impact on farmers’ income. With PLJ, we developed a system that automatically catches available data, and automatically updates it, allowing us to spend our time on the analysis, and not waiting for the information itself. We were also able to integrate other related data, to support identification of areas most in need of government intervention.”
Following its successful adoption and use in Indonesia, similar forecasting methods as part of an early warning system are being piloted in other countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. While technology brings a lot of positives to emergency response, Anthea doesn’t forget her first deployment with WFP in Kosovo, when open-source online map and GPS were not widely available nor accessible. Relying on printed maps pinned all over the walls and floors – in the absence of desks – her team had to identify the correct sites to deliver relief items. She still admits that even the most sophisticated technology can fail us at times, and reminds us never to underestimate the value of original and hand-on techniques.
“In the context of a tsunami, the earthquake is the warning. That is the initial siren telling us to move to higher ground”, Anthea reminds us. “When hey sense danger, most people will act to protect themselves and family. Thus, it is important to get the message through to the people at risk”.
Written by : Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : Personal collection of Ms. Anthea Webb
MANAGEMENT OF THE DEAD
While death is a topic that we all don’t enjoy, the reality of disaster management is that it is also a common theme we all face during and after disasters occur. Therefore, an integral part of the role for a disaster manager is to understand victim identification, and also the proper and dignified ways to manage deceased people as a result of disaster situations. During June 2019, the AHA Centre co-organised a seminar on dignified management of the dead, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and supported by the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB).
Taking place from 20-21 of June, the seminar was attended by over 80 representatives of agencies involved in emergency and disaster response from ASEAN Member States, alongside representatives from local government agencies in Indonesia, other partner agencies and the nation of Timor Leste. A key outcome was the agreement that proper training of first responders was key to improving management of the dead, especially drawing on lessons learned from the earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction disaster in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
“Dignified management of the dead remains a relevant theme for the ASEAN Member States given that the region is geographically prone to natural disasters. It’s crucial that the first responders are equipped with sufficient knowledge and skills in victim identification during the early stages of search and rescue. Proper and dignified management of the dead can also help minimise the distress caused to families who lose their loved ones by helping provide answers and giving them closure”, said the head of ICRC’s regional delegation for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Alexandre Faite.
As part of the seminar, the ICRC also took the opportunity to introduce official guidelines – Management of Dead Bodies after Disasters: A Field Manual for First Responders – as well as promote a regional proposal to develop a practical tool from available global knowledge in the field of dignified management of the dead, to be adapted to the South East Asian context.
The Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Ms. Adelina Kamal, highlighted the importance of such developments within a seminar such as this.
“ASEAN countries have a wealth of experience in responding to disasters over the past decades. We also have rich local wisdom as well as cultural and religious diversities. The workshop intends to promote cross-fertilisation of knowledge and experience of the ASEAN countries to enrich the field guide. At the same time, the AHA Centre will also use the accumulated experience and knowledge to enhance our regional preparedness for One ASEAN One Response”
Written by : William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
DEUTSCHE POST DHL
Logistics – in particular the handling of relief items at times of emergency – form an integral part of any disaster response, and therefore a key aspect of the AHA Centre’s role as the primary regional coordinating body for disaster management in the ASEAN region. Having worked together during the large-scale response following the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami event in 2018, the AHA Centre and Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) quickly realised the shared value that a formalised partnership between the two entities could have. The AHA Centre formalised this partnership by signing a Memorandum of Intent to work together with DHL – one of the world’s leading logistics services providers – effective on the 1st of July, 2019 in Manila, the Philippines.
The AHA Centre and DPDHL’s first major experience in a working partnership took place after 2018’s major disaster event in Central Sulawesi, with the significant amount of relief pouring into Indonesia requiring extra support to receive and deliver items to the affected region. DPDHL provided significant support on the ground, handling international items at the established receiving centre in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, as well as at Palu Airport – the entry-point to the affected area. It was this formative working experience that increased the interest of both parties to strengthen their partnership – with both directly witnessing the mutual benefit that such a partnership holds. Aside from this response effort, representative from DPDHL has also participated in the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) training programme, further promoting the engagement of public-private engagement in logistic management.
“We are excited to partner with AHA Centre in their growing role as a regional coordinating hub for the mobilisation of resources to disaster affected areas in Southeast Asia,” said Carl Schelfhaut, GoHelp Manager from the Asia Pacific DPDHL Group. “DPDHL Group has been closely following the One ASEAN One Response approach that the region has championed over the years and we fully support its implementation,” he continued.
The partnership – formalised through July’s MOI – will see DPDHL further engaging with the AHA Centre in future responses, with its Disaster Response Team (DRT) working on the ground alongside the AHA Centre to facilitate the movement of international relief items. Potential activities include unloading cargo planes, supporting professional warehousing and inventory management, and loading relief goods for onward transportation. DPDHL will also offer its expertise in logistics to support for the AHA Centre’s ASEAN-ERAT and ASEAN Humanitarian Logistics courses and activities. The AHA Centre’s Executive Director, Adelina Kamal highlighted the importance of the Centre’s further engagement in public-private partnerships such as this when she noted “public-private partnerships with industry experts like DPDHL Group are critical in scaling up the One ASEAN, One Response vision. As our partnership with DHL’s DRT team at Sulawesi last year demonstrated, their expertise in facilitating the flow of relief goods and supporting civil military relations is invaluable”.
Written by : WilIiam Shea | Photo : Deutsche Post DHL
NATIONAL DISASTER RESILIENCE MONTH
IN THE PHILIPPINES
Disaster plays a large role across the communities of the Philippines, with the ASEAN Member State constantly affording significant attention and resources to ensuring its citizens and infrastructure are prepared and resilient to disaster occurrences that frequently impact the nation due to its geographic context. For the entire month of July 2019, the Philippines celebrated its National Disaster Resilience Month (NDRM) that involved numerous events and activities across the nation aimed at increasing awareness and resilience for its people in the face of ongoing natural disaster threats.
The theme for 2019’s celebration was Kahandaan sa Sakuna’t Peligro Para Sa Tunay na Pagbabago – which translates to Disaster Risk and Emergency Preparedness for Genuine Development in the English language – with NDRM kicking off on July 1st through a number of opening events. The Philippines’ National Disaster Management Organisation (NDMO) – the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) – kicked-off the month-long celebration with the launching of its DELSA Satellite Warehouse in Quezon City, an event that will be covered in detail in the next volume of the AHA Centre’s Column publication. For the entire month of July, the Government of the Philippines, institutions, businesses and the general public took part in activities related to disaster resilience, particularly covering the four thematic areas of DRRM –Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Response and Disaster Rehabilitation and Recovery.
A variety of engaging and interesting activities were planned for the whole month, with each of the nation’s numerous regions implementing its own schedule for celebrations and awareness raising within the community. The Municipality of San Jose de Buenavista, through the Antique Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, undertook a ‘caravan’ around San Jose de Buenavista to raise community awareness on the importance of readiness within the landslide and flood-prone region. In San Fernando City, the annual Run for Resilience event was organised. The annual event was formed to offer thanks for the support of the many partners who promote disaster resilience in the community. Schools across the nation will participate in activities such as essay writing, song development and poster creation, with the aim to ensure strong resilience in the next generations of the country’s youth. In Butuan City, officials aim to highlight their Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Heroes – namely the health care providers in provincial and district hospitals who are at the frontlines providing care during emergencies and disasters.
Disaster response trainings in schools and government offices and in disaster prone areas were held across different locations, that formed the practical aspect of the NDRM in strengthening disaster resilience for people of the Philippines. Other events aimed to strengthen internal and external partnerships on disaster management, through events such as: ceremonial turnover of tents from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the launch and implementation of the 2019 Nationwide Simultaneous Hands-Only CPR Campaign; Basic Life Support Training for the DOH Security Personnel, and; a ceremonial signing of the memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.
Written by : William Shea | Photo : The Philippines Office of Civil Defense Facebook Page
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
JUNE 2019 | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL OVERVIEW OF JUNE 2019
Disaster occurrences in June 2019 amounted to only half of the average for June across the previous five years. Interestingly, while the impact of Southwest Monsoon in the region brings traditionally wet conditions in most ASEAN Member States, during this month the numbers of flooding, storms, and wind-related disturbances recorded were significantly less than those of the previous five years. Meanwhile, reported drought incidents rose significantly when compared with the last five years. These conditions may have been influenced by the borderline El Niño currently being experienced in the region, which resulted to lower-than-normal rainfall and higher-than-normal temperature. On the other hand, it is also important not to discount the possibility that the increase in drought reports may be due to developments in drought monitoring and reporting processes and technology across the region.
While the number of disaster occurrences are significantly lower than the previous five-year average, the number of reported affected people remained similar at 86%. This suggests that disaster occurrences in June 2019 had a higher impact than many incidents across the past five years. In addition, the reported number of internally displaced people (IDP) is 2.5 times higher than the previous five-year average. The high number of IDPs was driven by the reported sudden change of atmospheric conditions in the southern Philippines, which experienced continuous heavy rains after being devastated by drought for weeks. On the other hand, damaged houses and casualties recorded significantly lower numbers than the previous five-year average, which may be attributable to decreased flooding and rain-induced landslides – key drivers of high numbers of damaged houses and casualties, in addition to earthquakes. June 2019 recorded 32 earthquakes of magnitude 5.0 and above, and while there was one earthquake in Indonesia that affected people and damaged houses, the impact was still considered minor.
The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) predicts the prevailing Southwest Monsoon to continue until October 2019. As a result, general continuity of rainy conditions in the northern ASEAN region and dry conditions in the southern ASEAN region can be expected. In addition, above-normal rainfall is forecast in several parts of Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, while above-normal temperatures are likely in most parts of the region except for southern parts of ASEAN. The El Niño Southern Oscillation monitoring system remains in the “Watch” status for the region, which suggests borderline El Niño conditions. Looking forward, overall signs of future El Niño development have weakened, however, model outlooks of international centres still show a wide spread of outcomes ranging from neutral conditions to moderate El Niño.
Data Sources: ASEAN Disaster Information Network, ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre
Written by : Lawrence Anthony Dimailig & Shahasrakiranna
Disclaimer: AHA Centre’s estimation is based on data and information shared by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and other relevant agencies from ASEAN Member States, international organisations and news agencies. Further information on each recorded-significant disaster, description and detail of data and information are available at: http://adinet.ahacentre.org/reports.
SOFT LAUNCH OF
DELSA SATELLITE WAREHOUSE
A key aim for the AHA Centre – under the One ASEAN, One Response vision – is to increase the speed and scale of disaster response across the ASEAN region. Supporting and innovating current ASEAN disaster management processes forms a key element in such efforts, and significant attention has been afforded to increasing and expanding the region’s relief preparedness, with a focus to ASEAN’s stockpile of relief items, housed and coordinated through the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) warehouse in Subang, Malaysia. Throughout the last two years, the AHA Centre has implemented plans to develop DELSA satellite warehouses in two other parts of the region, and in June 2019, the AHA Centre achieved its first satellite warehouse opening with the soft launch of a new facility in Chainat, Thailand.
The two DELSA satellite warehouses are located in Thailand and the Philippines, with both forming accessible, efficient and innovative options for the region to deliver much-needed relief items to communities affected by disaster anywhere in the region. They will operate in sync with the primary DELSA regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia, balancing and coordinating supplies based on operational capacity and the needs of the surrounding region’s populations. The two satellite warehouses will be jointly managed between the host country’s National Disaster Management Organisation (NDMO) and the AHA Centre, and will utilise processes and procedures developed by the AHA Centre and NDMOs throughout the lead-up and development of the facilities.
The first of the DELSA Satellite Warehouses was launched in Chainat, Thailand on 23 June, 2019, with the launching ceremony forming part of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, attended by all ASEAN Leaders. Made possible through the support of the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), Thailand’s warehouse will be co-managed by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation of Thailand and the AHA Centre, and is located at the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Regional Centre (DPMRC) Region 16, Chainat. As part of the soft launch, ASEAN Leaders were invited on-stage to officiate the event, as part of the overall opening ceremony of the Summit.
With a full launching of both warehouses slated for 2019, this soft launch in Thailand forms the initial step of an exciting time for the ASEAN region’s efforts in disaster response. In a press statement released by the Thailand as Chair of ASEAN in 2019 during the 34th ASEAN Summit, “the Satellite Warehouse in Chainat Province will enable ASEAN, and particularly the AHA Centre in Indonesia, to more effectively pursue rapid mobilisation and distribution of relief items to disaster-affected ASEAN Member States in mainland Southeast Asia…… further strengthening ASEAN’s collective response to natural disasters under the “One ASEAN, One Response” across ASEAN”.
Written by : William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre