Vol 67 – AHA CENTRE DELIVERS DESPITE PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: THE 13TH MEETING OF THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE AHA CENTRE
AHA CENTRE DELIVERS DESPITE PANDEMIC CHALLENGES:
THE 13TH MEETING OF THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE AHA CENTRE
The 13th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre took place on 26 November 2020, utilising Zoom video conferencing platform as is the norm during the 2020 pandemic. The Meeting was held back-to-back with a range of other key engagements, including: the 37th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM); the 14th Meeting of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to Promote Synergy with Other Relevant ASEAN Bodies on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR); the 8th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM), and; the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to AADMER (COP to AADMER), which were all held between 25 – 27 November 2020.
The Governing Board Meeting was attended by National Focal Points of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as representatives from the AHA Centre as the Secretariat to the Governing Board, and the ASEAN Secretariat as ex-officio member.
Prior to the Meeting, the 37th ACDM Meeting endorsed the AADMER Work Programme (AWP) 2021-2025. The AWP is the primary document that will guide the activity of the ACDM – as well as the AHA Centre – for the next 5 years, focusing on five priority programmes of risk assessment and monitoring, prevention and mitigation, preparedness and response, resilient recovery, and global leadership.
As part of the Governing Board’s agenda, the AHA Centre also presented the proposed AHA Centre Strategic Direction for 2021-2025, resulted from a comprehensive rethinking and consultation process involving ASEAN Member States and partners, to assess the organisation’s scope and mandate and how the AHA Centre can further enhance its capacity. The AHA Centre will use the Strategic Direction paper and the AWP 2021-2025 as main reference documents for the Centre’s own five-year work plan.
During the Meeting, the AHA Centre also reported to the Governing Board regarding its activities during 2020. The Board noted a number of AHA Centre achievements despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, including the provision of humanitarian assistance to the communities affected by the widespread flooding and landslides in Viet Nam, caused by the combination of Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA. The Governing Board also highlighted the recent response to support communities impacted by the effects of Super Typhoon GONI (ROLLY) and Typhoon VAMCO (ULYSSES) in the Philippines. Alongside these, the AHA Centre was also commended for its efforts to deploy resources from the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia as well as DELSA satellite warehouses in Chainat, Thailand and Manila, the Philippines, to support the regional efforts combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AHA Centre is grateful for the continuous support provided by the Governing Board of the AHA Centre during the challenging year of 2020, and hopes that the upcoming 2021 will bring better opportunity for the region.
Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
AHA CENTRE PARTNERSHIP FORUM
REFLECTING ON UNITY AND TRANSFORMATION
As part of its 9th Anniversary, the AHA Centre recently implemented its own Partnership Forum, that was aptly named Transforming through Uncertainty. The forum was organised to reflect on the strong support provided to the AHA Centre’s journey by ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat and its other humanitarian partners. The forum was also an opportunity for the AHA Centre to continue re-defining itself, in efforts to adapt and transform to remain agile and engaged, particularly with the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and other challenges.
The forum was attended by 109 participants from nearly 40 partner organisations. The Executive Director of AHA Centre, Ms Adelina Kamal; the Chair of the Governing Board to the AHA Centre, Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad of the Philippines; and the Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E Dato Lim Jock Hoi, all offered their welcome remarks to open the forum.
The event was divided into two dialogue sessions, each with a specific theme, namely Celebrating Partnership, and Renewed and Future Partnerships. Session 1 speakers included five representatives from foreign government offices and international organisations, namely: the Ambassador of Australia to ASEAN, H.E Will Nankervis; Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Indonesia, and Brunei Darussalam, Mission to ASEAN, Mr Hans Farnhammer; Deputy Head of Mission of Japan to ASEAN, Mr Yoshi Kodama; First Secretary of the Mission of the Republic of Korea to ASEAN, Mr Lee Soohong; Ambassador of Switzerland to Indonesia, Timor Leste, and ASEAN, H.E Kurt Kunz, and; Deputy Director of Emergency Response of Direct Relief, Mr Gordon Wilcock, PhD.
These representatives – through their government and organisations – support current and ongoing AHA Centre projects including:
Strengthening the AHA Centre’s Capability to Respond Effectively to Human Induced Crises (Australia)
Integrated Programme for Enhancing the Capacity of AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanism (European Union)
Disaster Emergency Logistic System for ASEAN (DELSA) Phase II (Japan)
ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND) (Republic of Korea)
Cooperation on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (Switzerland)
Enhancing DELSA Satellite Warehouses (Switzerland and Direct Relief)
ASEAN Village in Central Sulawesi (Australia and Direct Relief, complementing Brunei Darussalam and Philippines’ support)
Session 2 provided an opportunity for the new and existing partners to share their insights on the existing gaps for humanitarian issues in the region, and insights on their expectations for partnerships and future engagement with the AHA Centre. Five panelists were invited to shared their opinions, including: First Secretary in Development Section of the Mission of Canada to ASEAN, Mr Abdullah Mojaddedi; Deputy Head of Mission of France to ASEAN, Ms Myriam Saint-Pierre; Chief Executive Officer of RedR Australia, Ms Kirsten Sayers; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to Indonesia and ASEAN, H.E Benedetto Latteri, and; Executive Director of the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), Mr Ray Shirkhodai.
The Forum was closed with a presentation and introduction of the new AHA Centre project proposals that include:
1. Future Disaster Emergency Logistics System and Digital Transformation for ASEAN (DELSA-Transformed);
2. Enhancing ASEAN Member States’ Government Local Capacity through Local Capacity Building Programme (Go-Local);
3. Future Strengthening of Capacities of ASEAN Disaster Management Professionals in Emergency Response and in Building Resilience (FutureScape), and;
4. Learning Management System in Disaster Management (ASEAN-Learn).
Written by : Yuniarti Wahyuningtyas | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
ARMOR 2ND EDITION PUBLIC LAUNCH AND WEBINAR SERIES:
IT’S TIME TO ACT NOW!
Following the inaugural publication of the ASEAN Risk Monitor and Disaster Management Review (ARMOR) in 2019, the AHA Centre has successfully released the second edition with support from the European Union. The ARMOR 2nd Edition – “Time is Running Out: Why ASEAN Must Act Now against Climate Emergencies?” – aims to offer scientific perspectives regarding climate change influence towards the risk and threat of disasters, particularly within the ASEAN region.
The public launch event was conducted on 19 November 2020 via Zoom Webinar platform, as part of the commemoration of the AHA Centre’s 9th anniversary. The event also kicked-off the launch of the ARMOR Webinar Series that aims to ensure widespread dissemination of key findings from the ARMOR 2nd Edition articles. The virtual public launch was officiated by H.E. Igor Driesmans, Ambassador of the EU Mission to ASEAN and Ms. Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre.
Overall, the ARMOR 2nd Edition consists of nine articles by an array of authors from the AHA Centre and external partners, such as UN University, Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), ASEAN Disaster Preparedness Center, USAID, Emory University, NTU Singapore, DDPM Thailand, IFRC, ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), and Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia. Following the initial ARMOR publication that focused on bridging science and decision making, this 2nd Edition aims to provide information required by the ASEAN Member States to better prepare, mitigate, respond and recover from disasters, most importantly as caused by the increasing threat of climate change.
The coinciding Webinar Series is made-up of four separate sessions that highlight different articles in the publication. With the first session taking place after the initial launch, the remaining three webinar sessions are under development, with the second session scheduled to take place in the fourth week of January 2021.
The first webinar session focused on the first two articles of the publication, with article one titled “Real and Present Danger: What Does a 1.5˚C Increase Mean to ASEAN?” by Dr Mizan Bisri from the UN University, and article two titled “The Threat-Multiplier: Climate Change and Disaster Riskscape in ASEAN”, co-authored by LA Dimailig and Keith Landicho from the AHA Centre together with Dr Joseph Green and Daniel Morath from the PDC. The session was designed as an interactive discussion, and attended by approximately 100 participants, with the panelists comprised of the articles’ authors, with comments from Dr Riyanti Djalante, Head of the Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, and moderated by Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre.
The idea for the theme arose from the growing threat posed by climate change to the survivability of humankind. The first article in the publication on the risk and threat posed by the 1.5˚C increase on climate to the disaster risk in ASEAN became the centre of discussion. The article summarises the latest assessments and outlook of climate change impacts in the ASEAN region that inspired the overall publication title.
Written by : Caroline Widagdo | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
While the global pandemic has interrupted capacity building efforts such as the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme, the Centre continues to provide education for ACE Programme Graduates. The AHA Centre has been implementing a webinar series to support its objectives of capacity-building, networking, and utilising leadership competencies to improve national and regional coordination response mechanisms and disaster management more broadly. As part of the AHA Centre’s 9th Anniversary celebrations, the final instalment of the ACE Programme Webinar Series 2020 was held on 18 November 2020, with a focus on the area of humanitarian diplomacy.
In collaboration with the Asian Institute Management (AIM) – an Asian pioneer in management education – the AHA Centre had the fortunate opportunity to engage H.E. Ambassador Laura Quiambao-Del Rosario (Distinguished Fellow in Development Management of AIM) as a resource speaker, as well as Dr. Miguel Manuel C. Dorotan (Adjunct Faculty of AIM) as the moderator for the humanitarian diplomacy webinar.
The webinar itself began with a poll to identify the geographical background of participants, their role in their organisation, and their experience or involvement in diplomatic negotiation. This was done to support the aims of ensuring that the webinar materials could successfully cover all aspects and needs of the participants related to humanitarian diplomacy. Out of all webinar participants, 95% were located in the ASEAN region, and one each were from Europe and the Pacific. A third of the participants were in middle-management, 15% were in senior management, another third (31%) were technical specialists, a fifth (21%) were rank and file. 38% said they have previously been involved in diplomatic negotiations.
Ambassador del Rosario started by describing the difference between Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law as basis for humanitarian diplomacy. While both legal frameworks aim to protect life, health and dignity of humanity, human rights law applies in both peace time and war, while International Humanitarian Law applies only during war and conflict. Under such circumstances some human rights can be suspended for internal security reason, except the right to life, the prohibition of torture, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the prohibition of servitude and slavery.
Humanitarian diplomacy is specifically needed in circumstances that include: densely populated areas of need; during unstructured conflict; where there is displacement of people; where there is a breakdown of systems of health, education, distribution of food and water, and; where there is sexual violence. The Ambassador highlighted that as part of diplomatic negotiation during humanitarian situations, it is important to know the interest or objectives of other parties in the conflict. A lot of questions were raised with regard to the role of the AHA Centre during conflict. The Ambassador emphasised that the application of neutrality as a humanitarian principle must be maintained. The role of any humanitarian in a situation of conflict is to alleviate the suffering of affected people, while addressing the root of the conflict should be left to political stakeholders.
Dr. Dorotan summarised the key takeaways on humanitarian diplomacy by spelling out an acronym using DIPLOMACY itself. Know the discipline of humanitarian diplomacy, international human rights law, and humanitarian law. The Ambassador suggests to not only focus on the problem but also on the people affected. Openness to share your views among each other across different level of population is important in negotiations. Just as in any other profession, one must have a mastery of the craft one is doing. As a diplomat it is important to be a communicator. And finally, y stands for “yehey”, as a term of expression for celebrating the small but successful accomplishments.
Written by : Shella Ningtyas, edited by Gaynor Tanyang | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
OF THE ASEAN-ERAT MISSIONS
Since its first response mission to Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis in 2008, the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) capacity and skill have been utilised by affected ASEAN Member States to support responses to a range of disasters, including – but not limited to – typhoons, floods and earthquakes as some of the most frequent disaster occurrences in the ASEAN region. Since the initial response in 2008, a total of 144 of the 322 trained ASEAN-ERAT members have been (re)deployed in a total of 28 ASEAN-ERAT missions throughout ASEAN.
2013 and 2018 are the two years with the highest number of disaster events that resulted in the ASEAN-ERAT missions. During 2013, 27 ASEAN-ERAT members responded to 6 disasters, which formed a significant increase in response engagement compared to the initial 2008-2012 period. Five years later in 2018, multiple and simultaneous disasters across the region tested the ASEAN-ERAT capacity to respond quickly and flexibly. In total, 45 ASEAN-ERAT members responded to 5 disasters – that were mostly classified as catastrophic – occurring across Indonesia, Myanmar, Lao PDR and the Philippines.
In 2018, ASEAN-ERAT members with skills in information management were deployed in three disaster responses, this being the first time such skills have been utilised in responses, following the implementation of ASEAN-ERAT Level 2 courses in 2017. Another three ASEAN-ERAT members were deployed to respond to landfill fire in Myanmar during 2018, which formed another first for the regional response. In 2018 the Government of Indonesia also authorised 9 ASEAN-ERAT members to provide support to the nationally-coordinated response led by the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) after the Central Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami. This mission saw ASEAN-ERAT members coordinate and facilitate incoming relief assistance from regional and international countries and organisations. The latest ASEAN-ERAT mission was in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the Government of Myanmar entrusted 10 ASEAN-ERAT members to conduct a Preliminary Needs Assessment and observations for the repatriation of displaced persons to Rakhine State.
Trust from ASEAN Member States and the significant dedication and solidarity of ASEAN-ERAT members themselves evidences the commitment towards ‘One ASEAN, One Response.’ Across the last 12 years, ASEAN-ERAT members’ capacity to undertake response missions has increased both in numbers and through specialisations. Such improvement is the result of strong collaboration between the ASEAN-ERAT Advisory Group, the ASEAN-ERAT In-Country Teams, the ASEAN-ERAT Operational Support Group, and the AHA Centre, who continue to ensure enhancement of ASEAN-ERAT members’ response capacities through the ASEAN-ERAT courses, regional exercises, and after-action reviews for preparedness activities.
“When we deploy ERAT, we don’t just deploy a person or a group of individuals. We deploy the solidarity of ASEAN. It is about delivering results and adding value framed within ASEAN solidarity. The emotional dimension is reflected in the fact that when we deploy ERAT, we are visiting a family.”
Said Faisal, Former Executive Director of the AHA Centre.
The AHA Centre honours the hard work and dedication of the ASEAN-ERAT members who have served during emergency response and preparedness missions across the ASEAN region since 2008. The AHA Centre would also like to thank the ASEAN-ERAT Advisory Group, ASEAN-ERAT In-Country Teams, and the National Disaster Management Organisations of each of the 10 ASEAN Member States, for their support in enhancing the capacity of ASEAN-ERAT as recognised response specialists in the region.
THE ASEAN-ERAT MEMBERS DEPLOYED IN ASEAN-ERAT MISSIONS THROUGHOUT 2008 – 2019
Adelina Kamal, Adi Bishry, Adiratna Wira Adnan, Agustina Tnunay, Amir Shah Noor Ahmad, Amnat Phonmart, Andreane Tampubolon, Andrew Mardanugraha, Andy Bachtiar Musaffa, Angelito Casinillo, Anne Tan, Arnel Capili, Arshinta, Arun Pinta, Asri Wijayanti, C.H. Kenneth Mak, Chan Nyein Thu, C.P.T Koh Kim Hwee, David Chow Tai Wei, Fazlisyah Muhammad, Gaynor Tanyang, Geok Meng Ng, Grace Endina, Haji Nordin bin Haji Buntan, Irvin Miranda, Janggam Adhityawarma, Jennifer Frances De La Rosa, Jennyline Fan, Jommel Mayor Merano, Lawrence Anthony Dimailig, Leny Jakaria, Luqmanul Hakim, M Fairual Idzuan bin Awang Jahri, M Nazim, Malyn Tumonong, Mark July Yap, Mary Grace Somido, May Francelline Jimenez, Min Soe Han, Mohammad Zikri, Mohamed Firoz, Mohamed Kadir Maideen, Mohammad Raihan Hafidz Mohd Rafiek, Mohammad Shazwan bin Suhanie, Muhamad Ali bin Hassan, Muhammad Azhar bin Said, Muhammad Fauzie Ismail, Nasrus Syukroni, Neil Angelo Sanchez, Nurul Fatien Rusly, Ow Yong Tuck Wah, Radito Pramono Susilo, Rio Augusta, Rivie Ayudhia Imanuela, Rohaizat Hadli, Romeo Almazan Bituin, Said Faisal, Sawita Lertsupochavanich, Shahrin bin Ahmad, Shintya Kurniawan, Siti Mariam Abu, Tan Teck Ming, Theophilus Yanuarto, Wanri Naibaho, Ye Tu Han, Yeny Susilowati, Yoram Lukas, Yos Malole.
THE ASEAN-ERAT IN-COUNTRY, THE ASEAN-ERAT ADVISORY GROUP, AND THE NATIONAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT ORGANISATIONS OF THE ASEAN MEMBER STATES
Written by : Madiatri Silalahi
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
NOVEMBER 2020 | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL REVIEW OF NOVEMBER 2020
While number of recorded disaster occurrences (56) for the month of November 2020 is 37% lower than the previous month (October 2020 – 89 disasters), it is three times higher than the five-year average for November (2015-2019). Figures also show significantly higher numbers for affected people, internally displaced people, damaged houses, deaths, injuries, and missing people. As predicted by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) in their previous seasonal outlook, wetter conditions for most of the ASEAN region and La Niña phenomenon (which bring wetter-than-normal conditions likely to persist until January 2021) were realised as forecast. Coincidingly, hydro-meteo-climatological hazards were constant during November 2020, an almost threefold increase in floods, two times more rain-induced landslides, twice as many storms, and more than ten times the amount of high winds reported. Aside from these, many of the higher figures are also attributed largely to the effects of Typhoons GONI and VAMCO across multiple regions of the Philippines, and partially into Central Viet Nam.
For geophysical events, a total of 21 significant earthquakes (M≥5.0) were reported in the region for November 2020 by local authorities. Volcanic activities were reported for Indonesia’s Merapi, Sinabung, and Ili Lewotolok mountains, with all under Alert Level III and being closely monitored. Recent volcanic activity was also reported for Ibu, Semeru, and Dukono mountains in Indonesia, but there were no reports of significant damage. The recent eruption of Mount Ili Lewotolok highlights the importance of early warning systems and early action to reduce humanitarian impacts, even more so in tectonically active countries like Indonesia and the Philippines.
Northeast Monsoon conditions were present over much of the ASEAN region by the last week of November 2020. During the Northeast Monsoon, the winds over the ASEAN region are expected to blow mainly from the northeast or northwest. The northern ASEAN region is expected to enter its traditional dry season, while in the southern ASEAN region generally wet conditions can be expected, as the monsoon rain band moves southwards over the equatorial regions.
For the December 2020 to February 2021 period, models predict near-normal to above-normal rainfall over much of the ASEAN region, except for the equatorial region, where near-normal to below-normal rainfall is predicted. La Niña conditions are present over the tropical Pacific Ocean, with climate models predicting moderate to strong La Niña conditions during the period. La Niña conditions are typically associated with wetter-than-normal conditions over the Southeast Asia region, and are expected to weaken during the boreal spring (March – May).
Warmer-than-normal temperature is expected to continue over much of the Maritime Continent for the next three months. Parts of Mainland Southeast Asia may experience below to near-normal temperatures.
With the onset of the Northeast Monsoon, a gradual increase in hotspot activities and associated smoke haze over the northern ASEAN region may be expected from December 2020 under the influence of dry conditions. Hotspot activities in the southern ASEAN region are forecast to remain subdued, mainly due to wet conditions resulting from the monsoon rain band located over the southern ASEAN region.
Data Sources: ASEAN Disaster Information Network, ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre
Written by : Keith Paolo Landicho, Lawrence Anthony Dimailig
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.
AHA CENTRE SUPPORTS
AHA CENTRE SUPPORTS TYPHOON-AFFECTED AREAS OF THE PHILIPPINES
During November 2020, within a short span of just a few weeks, communities across the Philippines have experienced extreme weather disturbances, including Tropical Storm SAUDEL, Typhoon MOLAVE, Tropical Storm ATSANI and Tropical Storm ETAU. The two strongest typhoons to strike the nation were Super Typhoon GONI (or locally known as ROLLY), and Typhoon VAMCO (or ULYSSES). In response to the impact of Super Typhoon GONI – that made landfall in the Philippines on 1 November 2020 – as well as the ongoing impacts of the other storms and typhoons, the AHA Centre was engaged to support the Government of the Philippines to respond to the people’s needs in the days and weeks that followed.
The AHA Centre released a large number of relief items stockpiled at the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) Satellite Warehouse in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, the Philippines, to strengthen the government’s ongoing efforts to support typhoon-affected communities. Facilitated by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) of the Philippines, the first batch of ASEAN relief items were transported by the Navy on 15 November from the Port of Manila to the Bicol Region – which was the region most affected by Super Typhoon GONI. A second batch of relief items was transported to Marinduque Province on 30 November.
The ASEAN relief items, valued at almost USD900,000, included 2,946 rolls of tarpaulins, 100 shelter repair kits, 1,000 kitchen sets, 5,000 mosquito nets, 5,700 family kits, 5,010 jerry cans, 74 outdoor family tents, and also 1,000 indoor family tents that can be used by affected families inside evacuation centres. This response was the AHA Centre’s biggest response to disaster to date in 2020. It also evidenced the value of the DELSA Satellite Warehouse system – developed in 2019 and co-managed by the AHA Centre and the Philippines OCD – supporting the overall speed and accuracy of disaster response for the ASEAN region.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, stated that the mobilisation of ASEAN relief items – supported by Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and Direct Relief – represents the tangible solidarity of ASEAN and the spirit of ‘One ASEAN, One Response’. “The AHA Centre has been monitoring the disaster situation in the Philippines since October 2020 when several weather disturbances were first identified”, Ms Kamal explained, adding that “when we gathered and received information about the potential impacts caused by these extreme weather disturbances, our Emergency Operations Centre was activated, and this included working closely with our counterpart at the OCD of NDRRMC in the Philippines, as well as other ASEAN countries and partners for potential regional support”.
To provide situational awareness and common operating information on the effects of extreme weather disturbances, including Super Typhoon GONI, the AHA Centre also organised an executive briefing on 4 November 2020. The event was attended by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, ASEAN Member State representatives, diplomatic missions, defence attachés, and humanitarian partners from across the region. The Philippines OCD Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad provided a briefing on the latest situation from the affected provinces, as well as an update on impacts that the super typhoon was having on communities and infrastructure.
“The Philippines has been tested by multiple tropical cyclones, floods and other weather disturbances, within a span of only a few weeks. Our hearts and prayers are with the typhoon-affected communities, and we believe that the Filipino spirit is stronger than any typhoon,”
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre and NDRRMC – OCD of the Philippines
Mr. Sombath Douangsavanh is the Deputy Director of the Disaster Preparedness and Response Division, Social Welfare Department, of the Lao PDR Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (Lao PDR’s National Disaster Management Organisation – NDMO). He works primarily as the ASEAN and International Cooperation National Programme Coordinator in the Integrated Programme for Climate Resilience and Empowerment, based in Attapeu province, Lao PDR.
Mr. Sombath took some time out this month to answer questions from the AHA Centre relating to his work, his experience with the AHA Centre programmes, and the overall disaster management context for Lao PDR.
When asked about the challenges he faces in his current position, Mr. Sombath identified the uniqueness of working in the middle-level management. “On the middle management level, most of our work is more on technical-focused, however as the Social Welfare Department acts as the Secretariat of Central Disaster Management Committee, that work is more focused on monitoring disaster management implementation, meaning we have a broad area of skills to encompass” he explained. “Additionally, leading the ASEAN and International Cooperation Emergency Operation Centre, I also have had to increase my knowledge and skills related to such things as situation analysis’, GIS remote sensing, and data management.”
Mr. Sombath also highlighted that he has strengthened many of his skills and experiences through engagement with the AHA Centre over the years. He identifies his participation in the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme as a key moment in his career. “The ACE Programme provided very comprehensive knowledge and skills from basics of disaster management, understanding the ASEAN context, UN and Red Cross mechanisms and specific skills, and also engaged us in the ASEAN-ERAT and other leadership efforts” he recalled. Mr. Sombath also believes it was these such engagements that have supported his career progression to this point, stating that “by having this kind of support and engagement, I have been promoted to a higher position, and utilise the knowledge gathered from ACE to manage my tasks and my team”. “Also, when a disaster situation arises, my skills can be used to support the emergency response effort”, Mr. Sombath said.
Mr. Sombath values learning and reflection both individually and with his wider team, and believes that networking and partnerships are the most important part of strong disaster management. He also has great hopes for the ASEAN region to continue its progression in all aspects of disaster management, and that the ASEAN mechanisms continue to strengthen and are effectively applied in disaster management across the region and also outside. Mr. Sombath finishes with a reminder to all disaster managers about the importance of complete and all-encompassing disaster management activities, and the importance that such activities are fully supported.
“We never hope disaster happens, however, to be better prepared, ASEAN Member State governments must continue to invest more on all disaster risk reduction efforts – not only response, but preparedness and recovery as well.”
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo : Mr. Sombath Douangsavanh
(ASIAN CONFERENCE ON DISASTER REDUCTION 2020)
The Asian Disaster Reduction Centre (ADRC), since its establishment in 1998, has capitalised on the development of human and information resource management in order to enhance the disaster risk reduction capabilities of member countries. Through one of its activities—the Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction (ACDR) – this resource development is carried out, while also serving as a venue for annual conferences to be hosted by one of the member countries. For the first time in 19 years, the ACDR 2020 was organised virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the ADRC, hazards that have resulted in disasters have resulted in increasing impacts throughout recent years. This comes despite the continued efforts by member countries to implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR). These facts have shed light on the urgency of implementing and adapting Disaster Mitigation and DRR Strategies that take climate change into “greater consideration, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic”.
The 2020 conference focused on how national disaster management organisations, civil society organisations, and other relevant authorities and agencies deal with the dual risks of climate change and COVID-19. In the ACDR 2020, member countries shared their situations and discussed future actions that focused on two themes, namely:
1. DRR Measures and Challenges to the Intensifying Disaster Risks, and;
2. Disaster Preparedness and Response Amidst COVID-19.
During the ACDR 2020, the AHA Centre had the privilege to present on how it undertakes disaster information management. The presentation highlighted the resilience and adaptability of the AHA Centre’s processes and mechanisms during the pandemic—including even being able to conduct operations and responses through virtual means. Bangladesh presented an interesting insight into addressing issues and challenges for disaster risk reduction under changing disaster conditions and climate change, while Singapore presented on addressing issues and challenges for disaster risk management in the “New Normal” resulting from the pandemic.
Overall, the conference provided a platform for organisations in member countries to share to and learn from one another, engaging on best practices in adapting to changing landscapes battered by climate change, and even further by COVID-19.
Written by : Keith Paolo Landicho | Photo : AHA Centre
MEASURING OUTCOMES FOR DISASTER RESPONSE,
COORDINATION AND MANAGEMENT
While the global pandemic has interrupted capacity building efforts such as the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme, the Centre continues to provide education for ACE Programme graduates. The AHA Centre recently implemented a webinar series to support its objectives of capacity-building, networking, and utilising leadership competencies to improve national and regional coordination response mechanisms and disaster management more broadly. The webinars run from September to November 2020, and are primarily intended to expose the ACE Programme graduates to the latest trends and challenges in disaster management.
Following the success of the first ACE Webinar during September, the AHA Centre conducted the second ACE Webinar – namely Measuring Outcomes for Disaster Response, Coordination and Management – on 21 October, 2020. The webinar engaged more than 142 humanitarian practitioners from the ACE Programme graduate pool, NDMO officers, partners, and academics, in particular those working in monitoring and evaluation. Experts from UNOCHA, IFRC, Save the Children (member of the AADMER Partnership Group), and the Lien Centre for Social Innovation from Singapore Management University (SMU), shared their experiences in measuring the effectiveness of disaster response.
The session began with an interactive session on how often participants assess certain aspects during disaster operations – including measurement of coordination, response team effectiveness, accountability to affected population, leadership, and adherence to the programme cycle. Participants highlighted that coordination was the most frequent aspect that they measure in disaster response. This was highlighted further by the UNOCHA’s presentation, which focused on the importance of coordination to evaluate disaster responses, to ensure that assistance reaches the affected population, and to avoid gaps and duplication of assistance. This notion was also echoed by the speaker from the Lien Centre for Social Innovation, who also stated that cross-sectoral collaboration should create strong results for all stakeholders. ACE Programme Graduate Ms. Sarah Ulat of the Philippines Office of Civil Defense – National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council of the Philippines moderated the webinar, and also highlighted the importance of partnerships as a force multiplier and as a mode to a highly enabling environment for all agencies.
The speaker from IFRC shared experiences in measuring the effectiveness of surge teams undertaking internal reviews and utilising performance management and appraisals. The speaker from Save the Children covered the importance of assistance reaching vulnerable groups – including children – as they often make-up large percentages of an affected population.
Failure to listen to or consult with children in response evaluations not only neglects important information, but also ignores children’s agency and ability to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
The webinar concluded with some key takeaways provided by ACE Programme Graduate Mr Muhammad Azhar bin Said of the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
“Monitoring, evaluation and coordination is a continuous process to ensure the effectiveness of the humanitarian response. These days, with the advance of technology, we should be able to transform the way we undertake responses. After all, leadership is extremely important to be able to deliver productive and successful operations”.
-Mr Muhammad Azhar bin Said
Written by : Ferosa Arsadita | Photo : AHA Centre