AN INTERNSHIP STORY OF
KNOWING IS BETTER THAN NOT KNOWING
Before proceeding to the heart of the topic, it is proper that I introduce myself. My name is Yohanes Paulus, a graduate in International Relations from International University Liaison Indonesia (IULI). I was introduced to the field of disaster management in the form of a course taken during my studies back in 2018. Our class had the chance to visit the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) building in Jalan Pramuka, Jakarta, on a field trip, during which we saw the AHA Centre’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and the BNPB’s museum, and were introduced to the basics of disaster management.
In all, I am honored that I was able to contribute constructively to the AHA Centre and its activities
Three years later and the world has changed so much since that visit. I was concerned that job opportunities would shrink during the COVID-19 pandemic, and initially I did not have any specific expectations about working in disaster management when I applied to the AHA Centre.
I was delighted that my application was accepted, especially since it was not long after I graduated. Starting out as an intern, I wanted to obtain real work experience in an international setting, and to really learn in practice how international organisations work. The work was indeed very challenging but, in return, I achieved what I aimed for and much more.
In my work supporting the Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Innovation Expo (HELiX) – held virtually in May 2021 – I discovered the complicated procedures and unique challenges in relation to connecting many disparate hosts and participants online. Technological know-how in conjunction with organisational and communication skills with fellow teammates and colleagues were the key. Having been involved in every step of the way, to see the event held successfully, with the constructive conversations and innovations that resulted from it, certainly was an unforgettable and rewarding experience.
More generally, I was also exposed to the workings of the AHA Centre and its DELSA network of warehouses for emergency supplies. I became aware of the scale at which the AHA Centre operates and the important role of its work, especially in these very uncertain times and no doubt well into the future, when humanitarian logistics and disaster responses will become increasingly important, especially in ASEAN. I saw how many of the lessons from HELiX, especially relating to clear and effective communications within organisations and the ability to efficiently manage time and tasks, are implemented on the ground. Most importantly, far from being overly focused and specialised, the experience gained from the internship also challenged me to be able to respond to any unexpected situations and needs, and to remain level-headed and alert at all times.
Complications can and do arise, and I made quite a few mistakes. Feeling intimidated or lacking confidence in one’s ability to handle the sheer scale of tasks is a normal reaction. The critical point here is not to let these difficulties prevent you from learning and adapting. Knowing is better than not knowing, and sometimes the only way to obtain knowledge is simply by doing, however imperfectly.
In all, I am honored that I was able to contribute constructively to the AHA Centre and its activities. I still have much to learn, and the experiences I gained during my time as an intern will certainly be a cherished part of my learning journey. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I wish the best for the future of the AHA Centre, especially in its 10th anniversary year.
Written by : Yohanes Paulus, DELSA Intern January to July 2021 | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
AHA CENTRE’S MID-TERM REVIEW:
DEEP REFLECTION OF THE PROJECT PERFORMANCE
Following the adoption and implementation of the 2025 Work Plan, the AHA Centre conducted its mid-term review process from 21 to 26 July 2021. Carried out online, this mid-term review was geared towards promoting project performance, learning and evidence-based decision making and management. In particular, the review aimed to assess results achieved from January to June 2021.
Conducting any form of activity online has been a unique challenge since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last year. Not only is there “Zoom fatigue” whereby staff are worn out by too many virtual calls and meetings, there is also the fact that despite the comparative ease in setting up such meetings, technology can often fail. Some people lose their internet connections; some even lose electricity. Furthermore virtual mid-term reviews are limited to audio and visual cues, unlike in-person meetings where body language, tone of voice, pacing and gestures add an extra dimension to a speaker’s words. The entire process can lead to tedium in many cases. Nevertheless, the review with careful design and coordination among the Knowledge and Change Management (KCM), ICT and Resource Mobilisation (ResMob) teams, went ahead better than could be expected.
The mid-term review programme was separated into four-half day meetings in which all of the AHA Centre’s staff and senior management took part. Each meeting consisted of plenary and breakout room sessions. The breakout rooms were created based on the Work Plan’s priority programmes. As the AHA Centre has been implementing online project management and monitoring through Zoho since 2018, prior to the review the project team was asked to update its activity progress on that platform.
On the first day of the programme, using a problem tree analysis, the AHA Centre’s staff explored any delays in project implementation, their causes and drew lessons from the delays and provided suggestions for improved implementation to avoid further delays going forward and to ensure the achievement of the project objectives.
It also drew lessons and made recommendations for enhancing project implementation and performance on the second day. This session was the first time everyone was introduced and utilised a tool called a “transformation card deck”. The cards in the transformation deck acted as thought triggers, conversation starters and reflection framers. They helped tease out tacit knowledge, showcased staff experience and allowed for deep reflection. They could be used to design or co-design a project and facilitated support and learning from each phase throughout the project. Even though this tool is ideally used for face-to-face meetings, the AHA Centre’s staff were keen to discover how it could be used online. Both discussions on the problem tree and the transformation card deck were conducted using the Miro interactive virtual meeting tool, where participants could engage in mind mapping together.
Those two sessions led to the adjustment of the activity plan for July to December 2021. The KCM team presented the overall progress and projection for the next phase and provided their analysis on the possible completion rate by the end of 2021 so that the project team could decide on the number of activities and the timeline to achieve their intended targets.
Written by: Merry Rismayani & Caroline Widagdo | Photo : AHA Centre
PAVING THE WAY FOR INNOVATION THROUGH iPITCH
The concept of the Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Innovation Expo (HELiX) did not come naturally to the AHA Centre. HELiX started as a part of the DELSA Phase II project – a continuation and expanded version of DELSA, a programme that has been implemented by the AHA Centre since 2012. Initially, the concept of HELiX was simply to provide a discussion forum for logistics experts in ASEAN. However, the AHA Centre saw an opportunity to expand HELiX into a marketplace for ideas to support the improvement of humanitarian logistics in the region, bringing in experts from both the commercial and non-commercial sectors. What began as a simple idea about a forum turned into the most ambitious virtual series of events conducted by the AHA Centre to date.
One of the newly included ideas was iPITCH, an innovation-pitching competition aimed at promoting available innovations to solve the humanitarian logistics challenges of the ASEAN Member States and humanitarian communities in the ASEAN region. The idea for iPITCH originated from pitching competitions conducted by investors or technology companies for new and emerging start-ups. Similarly, the AHA Centre sought to use HELiX as an opportunity to select the best innovations in humanitarian logistics and introduce them to a broader audience of potential users and investors. iPITCH adopted three start-up stages of innovation – Ideation, Prototype and Scale-up – as categories in the competition. What made IPITCH unique was that the ideas submitted should answer challenges in the ASEAN region in terms of humanitarian logistics and supply-chain management.
The process of iPITCH started with a call for ideas from innovators in the ASEAN region and beyond. The AHA Centre then invited eight selected ideas to be presented in the Final Pitch on 25 May 2021. The innovators of the eight selected ideas came from academic and research institutions, humanitarian organisations and the private sector. On the panel of judges were representatives from the ASEAN Member States, the Government of Japan as a donor for the DELSA Phase II project, Angel Investment Network Indonesia (ANGIN) and the Temasek Foundation as supporting partners of HELiX, as well as the AHA Centre.
From the eight pitches, the competition was narrowed down to three ideas selected as winners in the Final Pitch. Fleet for Emergency from FleetHelp from Indonesia, a software engineering company based in Indonesia, won the Opal Award as the winner in the Ideation category. The team described Fleet for Emergency as an integrated platform that aims to effectively manage and maximise the speed of emergency fleet operations. The platform uses descriptive and predictive analysis to assist humanitarian organisations in managing and facilitating relief aid distribution.
Next, winning the Sapphire Award in the Prototype category, was the team from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) from the Philippines, with their idea titled the Padayon Donation Matching App. Deriving from the team’s first-hand experience during the eruption of the Mount Taal volcano in the Philippines in January 2020, the application aims to help the management of donations by connecting donors with the deserving recipients during emergencies, in order to avoid discrepancies in donation distribution. This idea also won for the AIM the audience’s vote and the team took home the Diamond, or Community Choice, Award.
Last but not least was the Logistics Institute Asia-Pacific (TLIAP GO) team from the National University Singapore (NUS) with their idea THINKLog – Humanitarian Logistics Mode, which won the Ruby Award as the winner in the Scale-up category. Quoting from their description, ThinkLog is a board game designed as an expandable interactive learning framework for logistics and supply-chain management. As a learning framework, the game has been developed to cover different scenarios, concepts and challenges in logistics. The game aims to complement teaching and learning activities in classrooms and workshops by introducing supply-chain management concepts through role-playing and simulation.
The introduction of these innovative ideas will hopefully widen the options for the ASEAN Member States and humanitarian communities in the ASEAN region in solving their humanitarian logistics challenges, increase logistics preparedness and ease actual logistics operations during emergencies. In the end, the AHA Centre expects iPITCH to be a trigger for more discussions and collaboration to promote innovations in humanitarian logistics.
HELiX itself is not over yet. A virtual software-hacking competition titled AHAckathon will be held in October 2021 as the next item on the agenda to bring out more ideas and innovations to support humanitarian logistics in the region.
Written by : Caroline Widagdo
A JOURNEY OF THE COLUMN:
IT’S MORE THAN JUST A NEWSLETTER
I have had the great privilege of serving as Editor in Chief of The Column since December 2016 and as this edition, Volume 75, marks the end of my tenure, I would like to reflect on The Column’s journey thus far.
The Column was first published in January 2015 under the stewardship of Mr Said Faisal, who led the AHA Centre as Executive Director. At that time, the AHA Centre needed to have a platform that could regularly update and inform partners about all issues relating to disaster management and humanitarian assistance in the ASEAN region, as well as a channel to communicate to the public about the activities of the AHA Centre.
I was pleased to take over as Editor in Chief for the 24th edition and although The Column was fulfilling its initial role, I felt that there was much more that could be achieved in order to get our important message across to a wider audience. The most obvious transformation was in the visual design – to make it more attractive, and most importantly to publish The Column in a web-version format. This was achieved with Volume 36 in March 2018 and it allowed readers to access The Column from their computers or cellphones. The public could also now subscribe to receive the monthly newsletter via email.
On top of that, I sought to ensure that we had a more diverse range of contributors, from AHA Centre staff and other experts and partners to academics and the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme graduates. The Other Side section of The Column also regularly features profiles of people from various backgrounds who have shared the “other side” of their public persona. In the past few editions, the Other Side has featured ACE Programme alumni from all 10 ASEAN Member States.
The Column has become an important channel for the AHA Centre to communicate with stakeholders, partners and the general public about the vitally important role the Centre plays in disaster management and humanitarian issues in the region. As a knowledge product, The Column also provides the opportunity for AHA Centre staff, partners, academics and experts to contribute to the expansion of information on all matters relating to its work.
It has been six years since the first edition of The Column was released, and many activities and a great deal of information have been captured in its pages. As Editor in Chief, I have been a witness to what has been going on in the AHA Centre and in the region through its many informative articles.
As I prepare to leave the Centre this month, I feel emotional about also leaving The Column, where over the years I have got in touch with so many dedicated individuals, both professionals and volunteers, in formal meetings, informal gatherings and through social media. We could not have achieved what we have without their efforts and I would like to take the opportunity to thank them. I would also like to express my sincerest gratitude for the support provided by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and EU-SAHA to The Column.
I hope, indeed I am sure, that The Column will continue to inform the AHA Centre’s partners and the wider public about all disaster-management and humanitarian issues in the region. I wish it and the team every success in the future.
Written by : Ms Adelina Kamal
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
JULY 2021 | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL REVIEW OF JULY 2021
For the month of July 2021, a total of 113 disasters were reported. The ASEAN Member States that were affected were Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Most of the disasters (63.72%) occurred in Indonesia but these only comprised 13.32% of the total number of affected people for the month. The Philippines comprised 16.81% of the disasters for July but comprised 83.3% of the total number of affected people, largely due to the effects of the Southwest Monsoon with one instance being enhanced by Tropical Cyclone IN-FA. The share of disaster-affected people for other ASEAN Member States was as follows: (1) Cambodia-0.01%, (2) Lao PDR-0.3%, (3) Malaysia-0.02%, (4) Myanmar-2.74%, (5) Thailand-0.15% and (5) Viet Nam-0.14%. July 2021 saw disasters affecting 265 per 100,000 people* and displacing 57 per 100,000 people* in the region. July 2021 also accounted for 16.64% of the total disasters and almost half (49.76%) of damage costs reported so far in the current year.
Most of the disasters that occurred in July 2021 were floods (57.52%) and this is consistent with July of the previous year and July on a five-year average (2016-2020). July 2021 saw hydrometeorological disasters (floods, rain-induced landslides, storms and winds) dominating the disasters that affected the region for the month (79.58%). The reported disasters in the region for July 2021 in comparison with the historical data (average for June 2016-2020) indicates that there were 5.94x more reported disasters; 5.56x fewer people affected; 18.73x more people displaced; 7.73x more houses affected to some extent; 5.77x fewer lives lost; 45.5x fewer people suffering injuries; and lastly, 1.86x more people reported missing.
Geophysically, 38 significant earthquakes (Magnitude ≥ 5.0) were reported by Indonesia’s Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG), the Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), and Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH). On 1 July 2021, Mount Taal in the Philippines was raised to Alert Level 3 due to the volcano generating a dark phreatomagmatic plume 1 kilometre high (with no accompanying volcanic earthquake). The eruption of Mount Taal affected 22,433 people and caused the evacuation of 13,027 from the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel in Batangas Province. Mount Taal is currently placed under Alert Level 2 (as of 23 July 2021). Volcanoes in Indonesia and the Philippines have shown recent activity but have not resulted in significant events (except for Mount Taal) and are continuously being monitored.
*Computed based on 2020 population data from worldometers.com
According to the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), during July 2021, rainfall in the region was a mix of lower to more than the average values from 2001-2020.(Figure 1.a). Wetter conditions (positive anomalies from average values from 2001-2020) were detected over the coastal parts of southern Myanmar, southern Cambodia, northwestern Philippines, as well as the Maluku Islands for both satellite-derived rainfall estimates datasets (GSMaP-NRT and CMORPH-Blended). Coincidentally, these were the areas where disasters were reported for July 2021 with southern Myanmar and Northwestern Philippines reportedly resulting from the effects of the Southwest Monsoon. The two datasets (GSMaP-NRT and CMORPH-Blended) were also in agreement that the largest negative anomalies (drier conditions) were over the central Philippines. However, there were some discrepancies over the western and central Maritime Continent, where CMORPH-Blended recorded drier conditions than GSMaP-NRT.
According to the situational report from the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, since 28 July 2021 the Southwest Monsoon has brought intense rains to multiple regions of the Philippines and has since affected 312,605 families (1,222,241 persons) from 1,117 barangays. Related incidents to the Southwest Monsoon that impacted multiple regions in the Philippines were floods, rain-induced landslides, a mudslide, an overflowing spillway and swollen rivers. 129 roads and three bridges were affected and 12 roads and one bridge remain impassable. 1,723 houses have reportedly been damaged. The estimated cost of damage to agriculture is reported to be around USD 4,686,168.51 incurred in Regions I, III, VIII, IX and CAR. With regard to infrastructure, an estimated USD 721,025.94 worth of damage has been reported. A total of 40 cities/municipalities were declared under a State of Calamity. Assistance (in the forms of financial, family food packs, other food items, family kits, hygiene kits, sleeping kits, kitchen kits, medical assistance, non-food items) worth USD 204,497.13 have been provided to victims in Regions I, III, VI, CAR and MIMAROPA.
With the monsoon rain band located north of the equator in August 2021, Southwest Monsoon conditions are likely to persist over the ASEAN region. Climatologically, the Southwest Monsoon is characterised by rainy conditions in the northern ASEAN region and dry weather in the southern ASEAN region. During the August to October period, the prevailing winds in the ASEAN region are from the southeast or southwest.
For the August to October 2021 period, there is an increased chance of above-normal rainfall for much of the Maritime Continent. ENSO-neutral conditions are forecast to continue for the next three months. The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is in the negative phase and models are forecasting the negative IOD to also remain for the next three months. A negative IOD tends to bring above-average rainfall for the southern ASEAN region for this time of the year. Warmer-than-usual temperatures are expected for most of the ASEAN region except for Borneo and southern Sumatra where near- to above-normal temperatures are predicted.
Sources: ASEAN Disaster Information Network (ADINet), ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), ASEAN Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS), Cambodia National Committee on Disaster Management (NCDM), Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), Malaysia Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara (NADMA), Myanmar Department of Disaster Management (DDM), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Thailand Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA), Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG), Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG), Philippine Institute for Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS)
Written by : Keith Paolo Landicho, Sadhu Zukhruf Janottama, Lawrence Anthony Dimailig
The 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.
STRENGTHENING DISASTER-RESPONSE CAPACITY OF NDMOs AMID PANDEMIC
Responding to disasters during the COVID-19 pandemic has become more complicated as National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) have had to provide assistance as well as dealing with the pandemic at the same time. To maintain safety standards during any disaster response in Viet Nam this year, the Viet Nam National Disaster Authority (VNDMA) has handed over medical equipment to five Ministerial Standing Offices for Disaster Prevention.
The handover ceremony was held on 20 July 2021 at the Standing Office of the National Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control. The support items, funded by Direct Relief through the AHA Centre, comprised of medical equipment, including body thermal scanner systems, and medical face masks. These items will play a significant role in supporting the VNDMA and its disaster-prevention offices during any disaster response amidst the pandemic.
Viet Nam, like many countries within the region, is prone to disasters, especially in the second half of the year. Tropical storms, floods and landslides are the most frequent types of disaster and often simultaneously occur in the country, causing loss of life and property. Toward the end of 2020, Viet Nam was hit by Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA, which affected more than 800,000 people, with some 66,500 people forced to evacuate.
However, when such disasters occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, the response is more complicated and challenging as the country is still combating the pandemic while responding to the disaster. This means that a country needs to double the resources and this puts more pressure on the local authorities already facing the pandemic crisis. A disaster might well occur in an area where COVID-19 case rates are high, therefore, the disaster response must incorporate health protocols to ensure there are no new clusters of COVID-19 cases in temporary shelters.
The VNDMA has mitigated the above situations and any possible risks during its disaster responses. Understanding the risks faced by officials, it is crucial to be prepared and ready by providing the ministerial-level agencies with medical equipment and face masks during their responses to disasters.
The AHA Centre is grateful for the support items funded by Direct Relief to be distributed to the VNDMA. It is essential that disaster management agencies in the region have the medical equipment to ensure safety during their responses in the pandemic.
“It is very challenging for us now to respond to disasters while also combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The way we respond to disasters in this current pandemic needs to be adjusted while maintaining agility in our disaster responses”
This is not the first time that the AHA Centre has mobilised items in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the AHA Centre was mandated by the Governing Board to mobilise relief items from the DELSA Regional Stockpile in Subang, Malaysia; the DELSA Satellite Warehouse in Chainat, Thailand; and the DELSA Satellite Warehouse in Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippines, to support the ongoing COVID-19 responses in Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand. The AHA Centre has also distributed 1.5 million reusable face masks, donated by Singapore’s Temasek Foundation, to the ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Centres, entities related to ASEAN and the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia – PMI).
Written by : Moch Syifa, Kiran M. Husni | Photo Credit: AHA Centre