This month we spent some time chatting with another AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme alumni and ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) member Palida Puapun, who is also a staff member of Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM).
To begin, Ms Puapun explained more about her current role with the DDPM, where she is based out of Regional Centre 5 Nakhonratchasima. “I work as a planning and policy analyst within our centre that is responsible for four provinces across north-eastern Thailand” Ms Puapun told us.
“I play a role to advocate public policy in terms of sustainable development of mechanisms on science and technology in disaster management.”
Ms Puapun also highlights the importance of data and technology in disaster management, and explains the importance of scientific integration with social elements as part of more efficient public policy. “I am especially trying to achieve policy on open government data as well as utilising shared data for monitoring and tracking flood and drought at multiple levels of government”, she explains. “I am devoted to develop mechanisms and collaborate among government agencies because I strongly believe that strong governance contributes heavily in keeping communities safe from disaster, therefore increasing overall community wellbeing.”
Asked about the influence of the ACE Programme on her career, Ms Puapun is full of praise. “The ACE Programme enhanced all dimensions of my skills – not only my technical skills, but also experience in areas of leadership as well”, she remembers. “Moreover, the ACE Programme provided specialist mentoring, and engaged a young generation of leaders across the ASEAN region, allowing younger generations to ensure positive engagement and change on a regional level.” Additionally, Ms Puapun has also further applied her skills and leadership in her current role, and has learnt much from being an active ASEAN-ERAT member. “I am involved in flood and drought management activities in north-eastern Thailand, as my area is located on the upper-streams of Mun-river and Chi-River, which are branches of the Mekong river basin that faces frequent flood and drought across the ASEAN region.” Ms Puapun explains further, “I advocate the use of aerial photo and satellite imagery analysis, and elucidate the importance of three-dimensional digital mapping technology for flood forecasting and hydrological runoff models, tracking the disaster situation, and also initially assessing damage and needs of affected people during emergency events”.
In closing an insightful chat, Ms Puapun talks further about her hopes for the ASEAN region in disaster management. “I hope that ASEAN can drive plans and policies that focus more on prevention, mitigation and the reduction of risk of disaster, as these actions can reduce the impact of adverse events”, she says, before continuing to explain that “the ASEAN system is also key for increasing the standard of resilience of infrastructure, eco-systems and communities, which is an important strand of disaster risk management work”.
“Knowledge and data sharing is also imperative, and allows us to work in transparency and clarity across disaster management throughout our ASEAN region.”
Written by : Moch Syifa, William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
THE AHA CENTRE WORK PLAN DEVELOPMENT
FRAMING TARGETED RESULTS BY 2025
During the third week of January 2021, the AHA Centre undertook its regular annual planning workshop. Usually conducted annually as a two-day workshop, this year the AHA Centre adjusted the event to become a series of half-day workshops, and conducted them online through the Zoom platform between 18-25 January. The series of half-day workshops were attended by all AHA Centre staff members, as well as consultants from RedR Australia and the Department of International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID UK), who are supporting the AHA Centre to develop their resource mobilisation plan and strategic direction.
The workshops aimed to be an inclusive process through which all of the AHA Centre staff members could reflect on past achievements, and contribute their ideas and suggestions to shape the AHA Centre’s work in the coming five years. During these workshops, the AHA Centre discussed results and achievement of the AHA Centre work progress in 2020 and the plan for the upcoming years. The AHA Centre also utilised the annual planning workshop as a team-building opportunity in which staff members can engage and enjoy some time with each other. Several entertaining activities were conducted as part of the workshops, such as a virtual lunch, daily interactive quizzes, and the AHA Centre Awards.
As the highlight of the workshop week, namely the discussions, were focused on the AHA Centre Work Plan 2025. Using the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme (AWP) 2021-2025 as its base, the AHA Centre developed its own plan based on guidance provided through other relevant documents such as the AADMER, the Agreement on the Establishment of the AHA Centre, ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management, AHA Centre Strategic Direction for 2021-2025 paper, and other relevant project documents. The AHA Centre Work Plan 2025 will also incorporate the corporate and institutional governance elements of the AHA Centre’s work.As such, it will be a comprehensive tool to guide the work of the AHA Centre in the next five years.
With an 84.96% completion rate by 2020, and the endorsement of the AWP 2021-2025 (which is now focusing more on results at the outcomes and outputs level), the AHA Centre aims to work comprehensively by ensuring its projects fit within a whole organisational approach, and the outcomes/outputs are translated into specific groups of projects and actionable activites. The new Work Plan will not only describe in detail the activities for 2021, but also encompass a five-year plan to cover priority objectives for 2021 – 2025.
This workshop series is not the only process utilised for developing the AHA Centre Work Plan. Prior to the events the AHA Centre conducted team group discussions to review AWP 2021-2025 components assigned to the AHA Centre, that form the basis for the AHA Centre Work Plan 2025. These discussions were also used to identify feasible activities to be conducted by the AHA Centre, with the results of discussions then presented and further discussed in the planning workshops. For the next steps, the AHA Centre will continue to refine the work plan design to ensure it provides a significant contribution to the targeted impacts of the AWP 2021-2025.
Written by : | Caroline Widagdo | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
Vol 69 – InAWARE AND DMRS MARK A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE AHA CENTRE, PDC, BNPB, AND OTHER PARTNERS
InAWARE AND DMRS
MARK A SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP
BETWEEN THE AHA CENTRE, PDC, BNPB, AND OTHER PARTNERS
On January 26 2021 the AHA Centre, together with the Pacific Disaster Centre (PDC) and the National Disaster Management Authority of Indonesia (Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana – BNPB), had the honour of witnessing the virtual handover ceremony of InAWARE and the Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS). InAWARE and DMRS are the life-saving technology projects developed collaboratively and with funding support from USAID and its Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Both technologies have been customised for the specific needs of Indonesia’s BNPB and the AHA Centre, as well as being developed to support hazard monitoring, disaster response, regional cooperation, and early warning across ASEAN.
Deputy Executive Director of the PDC Mr Chris Chiesa highlighted that although these two projects officially closed this year, the relationship with all partners is only becoming stronger, and he also preferred to use the term ‘handover ceremony’ as opposed to ‘closing ceremony’. “This is a very proud moment for all of us to be handing over InAWARE and DMRS for their operational utilisation by the BNPB. I think you are all aware that the InAWARE grant ended recently in December 2020, and the AHA Centre activity that is part of the regional development capacity grant is also nearing its end. However, our relationship will be even stronger that when it started”, said Mr Chiesa. The PDC’s Executive Director Mr. Ray Shirkhoday also echoed these thoughts, when he stated “It’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with so many of the people joining us today. We see these relationships, developed over many years, as lasting partnerships, and we look forward to continued engagement with you all”.
Mr. Bambang Surya Putra, the Head of BNPB’s Emergency Operation Centre, highlighted the important of strong partnerships between the BNPB, PDC, and the AHA Centre. “We have been able to use InAWARE for our COVID-19 response, improving the quality of our operations, linking field and manager level, and helping us provide good information to the public” he said. He hopes that InAWARE can be utilised and maximised in the future by all provincial departments across the nation to provide accurate information related to disaster. Mr Bambang also agreed that this partnership should continue, saying that “we must continue to work side-by-side with our partners to further enhance the use of InAWARE within BNPB and provincial departments”.
For the AHA Centre this partnership forms one of its most important achievements. The DMRS has allowed the AHA Centre to better undertake its key function as the operational coordination engine of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), and also as the primary regional coordinating agency under the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on One ASEAN One Response. “It’s been a privilege for the AHA Centre to work with the PDC under ASEAN-US cooperation platform since our establishment nine years ago” stated Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, during the handover ceremony. “DMRS, powered by the PDC’s DisasterAware, is a customised near real-time disaster monitoring tool for the AHA Centre, and has been internalised and mainstreamed into our day-to-day disaster monitoring and response operations.”
The DMRS has already played a significant role in assisting ASEAN Member States and providing a common operating picture for multiple hazard situations across the region, as well as supporting the delivery of regional risk analyses assigned to the AHA Centre under the AADMER. From the DMRS, ASEAN Member States such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam have also been able to adopt elements to develop similar platforms at the country level, and the EOC’s in Lao PDR and Myanmar have also incorporated the AHA Centre DMRS.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : The AHA Centre
IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
The Southeast Asian region has the third largest, and the most active, social media users in the world, as stated in We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital Report 2021. Countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam can be found in the top ten Facebook nations across the world. Such data confirms that social media forms a significant part of Southeast Asian daily life, as residents turn to social media for many reasons, and in particular to obtain information.
When disaster strikes, social media becomes one of the key outlets for public information access. Depending on the type and scale of a disaster, most people have limited access to other information outlets such as television or radio. However, as social media applications are available on most mobile phones and can work with a limited phone plan, they often form the only information source available during and directly after a disaster.
HUMANITARIAN ORGANISATIONS CAN STRATEGICALLY UTILISE SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONVEY MESSAGES IN EACH PHASE OF A DISASTER
Firstly, in the mitigation phase, social media can help disseminate messages and engage public in discussion about disaster and development issues within the community. With the right social media analytics, a humanitarian organisation can identify target sections of an audience within the wider community on social media. Some mitigation messages on social media could be delivered to sections of the community who are not impacted when a disaster occurs, while mapping vulnerable communities, sending them messages directly via social media, and involving them in the conversation forms a more effective option.
Secondly, in the preparedness phase, social media can facilitate messages to educate the general public on how to respond and recover from a disaster. Social media tools such as multimedia, interactivity, and narrowcast make it an ideal place for educational videos and infographics, or even a strong short message to promote what to do when disaster occurs. Social media users tend to remember and would likely share strong hashtags or educational entertainment videos within their social networks. In this phase, it is also important to integrate social media messages with other outlets, or integrate social media messages from different stakeholders.
Third, in the response phase, social media has played a significant role as an immediate information outlet. This is the phase where information floods through social media, including messages to report a disaster, details to understand the impact of a disaster, and communication to look for missing family members or to seek help. In this phase, a well-trained social media specialist who understands social network analysis can help map the crisis based on social media posts. This skill is important to understand not only the spread of information during a disaster, but also to identify the impacted communities and their needs. Mapping out communities on social media can also help estimate assistance and aid they require, as well as the allocation of support effectively. In this phase, data visualisation may work best compared to other forms of communication.
During the recovery phase social media can facilitate messages related to government assistance, fundraising and donations from global audiences, as well as the recovery plan. Research on the usage of social media and smartphone apps by Zhang et. Al. (2014) in China during a major air pollution crisis showed that people also go to social media to look for physical and psychological well-being support. In coping with stress and loss because of disaster, victims use social media as a place to look for emotional support from their social network,s or support from communities and humanitarian organisations.
To strategically plan social media educational campaigns or crisis communication during a disaster, humanitarian organisations need to understand several aspects of social media.
- First of all, audiences in each country have their own preferred social media platforms and behaviour. This is important to understand before selecting a social media platform and creating messages.
- Second, each social media platform has its own unique features that can support different types of messages. Some platforms are more suitable for educational messages, but other platforms may be better for facilitating awareness and response.
- Last but not least, a different phase of disaster has a different range of time to respond. Humanitarian organisations must establish standard operational procedures for their social media communication strategy, especially during the response phase.
Written by : Ika K. Idris, PhD
Ika K. Idris is the Director of Research of Paramadina Public Policy Institute/PPPI at Universitas Paramadina, Jakarta. She specialises in social media analytics and public communication.
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
JANUARY 2021 | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL REVIEW OF JANUARY 2021
The figures of recorded disasters for the first month of 2021 were significantly higher than the five-year average for the same period. The region reported around a seven-fold increase in the overall number of disaster occurrences. Despite this large difference in disaster numbers, the number of affected and displaced persons for January 2021 were only around 1.5 times higher. On another note, significantly higher number of damaged houses, casualties, injuries, and number of missing persons were observed compared to January averages. The staggering impact on ASEAN populations was largely driven by the M6.2 earthquake in West Sulawesi during the second week of January. Close to 100,000 individuals were affected and displaced by this event, which also claimed over 100 lives. Outside of this earthquake, almost 80% of recorded disasters were floods, which can be attributed to the Northeast Monsoon conditions. This is characterised by wetter conditions in the southern ASEAN region, particularly Indonesia where 70 of the 86 flood disasters were recorded. These figures also do not yet include other hydro-meteorological disasters – such as storms and rain-induced landslides – which have also been reported during January 2021.
A total of 29 significant earthquakes (M≥5.0) were reported in the region for January 2021. As previously mentioned, the M6.2 earthquake in West Sulawesi on 15 January resulted in significant loss and impact to local populations and infrastructure. Volcanic activity was reported for Alert Level III volcanoes in Indonesia, with Mount Merapi, Sinabung, Semeru, and Karangetang under close monitoring. Recent volcanic activity was also reported for the mountains of Ibu, Dukono, and Raung in Indonesia (Alert Level II), and Mayon in the Philippines (Alert Level I), but there were no reports of significant damage.
According to the seasonal forecast by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) for February to April 2021, Northeast Monsoon conditions persisted over the ASEAN region in January 2021. The northern ASEAN region continues to experience its traditional dry season as the monsoon rain band lies south of the Equator during the Northeast Monsoon. The prevailing northeasterly or easterly winds over the region could strengthen at times under the influence of high pressure systems moving eastwards over continental Asia. During February, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore could also at times experience dry and windy conditions as they enter the dry phase of the Northeast Monsoon. Elsewhere in the southern ASEAN region, shower activities are expected with the prevailing winds blowing from the northwest or northeast. Light and variable wind conditions are expected across the ASEAN region as inter-monsoon conditions develop in March-April 2021.
For the February to April 2021 period, models predict above-average rainfall over much of the ASEAN region north of the equator. La Niña conditions are still present over the tropical Pacific Ocean, with climate models predicting La Niña conditions to last through the first quarter of 2021, but weakening during the boreal spring (March – May). La Niña conditions are typically associated with wetter-than-average conditions over the Southeast Asia region.
Warmer-than-average temperatures are expected over the eastern Maritime Continent as well as Myanmar. Much of mainland Southeast Asia, except Myanmar, may experience below-to near-normal temperatures. As the traditional dry season for the Mekong sub-region becomes firmly established during February to April 2021, dry conditions are forecast to persist despite above-average rainfall outlooks for parts of the sub-region. This is expected to cause hotspot situations in the sub-region to remain elevated, and an increased risk of transboundary haze may also be expected. In some parts of the southern ASEAN region isolated hotspots with localised smoke plumes may develop at times during periods of drier weather.
Sources : ASEAN Disaster Information Network (ADINet), ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), ASEAN Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS), Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), National Disaster Management Agency – Malaysia (NADMA), Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation – Thailand (DDPM), Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA)
Written by : Keith Paolo Landicho, Sadhu Zukhruf Janottama, Lawrence Anthony Dimailig
Disclaimer from ASMC: The qualitative outlook is assessed for the region in general and based on the latest runs from models provided by the SEA RCC-Network LRF node. For specific updates on the national scale, the relevant ASEAN Member States’ National Meteorological and Hydrological Services should be consulted. Hydrological Services should be consulted.
FOR THAILAND’S RESPONSE TO NEW OUTBREAK OF COVID-19
In collaboration with Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), the AHA Centre mobilised relief items as a response to the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in Samut Sakhon Province, Thailand. There are currently more than 4,000 people under quarantine, most of whom are immigrant fisheries workers arriving from neighbouring ASEAN nations.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, explained that the mobilisation of relief items aims to augment Thailand government’s ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19 outbreak in the province. “The ASEAN relief items are mobilised to support the operation of field hospitals that are now being set-up by the Government of Thailand. This mobilisation of support further showcases the solidarity of the ASEAN countries during this challenging situation”, Ms Kamal stated.
Supported by the Government of Japan through Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), the relief items comprising of 2,100 personal hygiene kits and 50 family tents, were mobilised from the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) Satellite Warehouse in Chainat, Thailand. As of 31 January 2021, four batches of items have been mobilised to two provinces, as well as directly to the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand.
The first batch (500 personal hygiene kits – PHK) was delivered to Nonthaburi Province on 4 January 2021, and the second batch comprising of 1,000 PHK were mobilised to Samut Sakhon Province on January 8. A total of 50 family tents were also delivered to the Ministry of Public Health as part of the third batch of items on 11 January. The last mobilisation was on January 30, and was made-up of 600 PHK that were sent to Nonthaburi Province. The remaining relief items will be mobilised by the DDPM after finalising the delivery schedule.
It is not the first time that the AHA Centre has mobilised ASEAN relief items to support ongoing operations responding to the impact of COVID-19. During the May to August 2020 period, the AHA Centre mobilised DELSA relief items from all three DELSA stockpiles located in Subang, Malaysia; Chainat, Thailand; and Quezon City, the Philippines. Five thousands PHK were mobilised from DELSA satellite warehouse in Quezon City, the Philippines, and sent to local government quarantine sites across the country as well as one mobile storage unit (MSU) was mobilised to the Department of Health for storing the medical equipment located in Manila. One Mobile Storage Unit and one pre-fabricated office were mobilised from the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia to support the coordination and management operations of a field hospital in Selangor. Also, one Mobile Storage Unit and 2,900 PHK were released from both the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang and the DELSA satellite warehouse in Chainat to support the pandemic response in Cambodia.
Such mobilisations of DELSA relief items to support COVID-19 – including the recent activity to support Thailand’s response – is based on the collective decision of the ASEAN Member States during the AHA Centre’s Governing Board Special Meeting in May 2020. It aims to provide specific support through relief items from the three DELSA locations as an interim measure to cover operational gaps in the pandemic responses of ASEAN nations.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : DDPM Thailand