MARY ANN SARAH CRUZ ULAT
This volume we catch-up with AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme alumni Mary Ann Sarah Cruz Ulat (Sarah) from the Philippines National Disaster Management Organisation. Sarah took us through her work in the disaster management sector, her engagement in the ACE Programme and other ASEAN regional initiatives, and her experiences responding to disaster over recent years.
Sarah is currently the Head of the Operational Coordination (OpsCoord) Section of the Response and Operational Coordination Division, Operations Service, Office of Civil Defense Central Office (OCD CO). The Office of Civil Defense is the executive arm of the Philippine’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC). Her team sits on the strategic and policy-making level, with the OpsCoord Section primary responsible for the formulation of policies, plans, programmes and standards related to operations activities and response initiatives. She has been part of the OCD for almost six years, and holds an array of interesting and challenging experiences as a result.
As her role is a relatively new one, Sarah highlights a number of challenges and changes that she is currently facing and adjusting to within the work. “Time challenges are many, as are the challenges of mobility and accessibility in a nation like the Philippines”, Sarah explains. “I also recognise the need for people to integrate different levels within disaster response”, she says, but follows by acknowledging these challenges are a common experience in disaster management regardless of one’s position.
Sarah highlights the ACE Programme as one of the defining milestones in her career to this date, and stated that it forms a key element of her ongoing learning journey in the disaster management field. “It developed both personal and professional aspects of my work”, Sarah remembers, “it allowed me to better myself, gain friends, and experience new things while also gaining technical knowledge on various tools and mechanisms, and being exposed to the international sector”. Sarah considers the ACE Programme as an opportunity to develop relationships that can be used in building resilience. “Learning is a journey and so is resilience” she states. “This couldn’t be more emphasised than throughout the ACE Programme, as it helped us develop our competency in leading emergency and disaster situations through shared theories and practices. Bearing in mind that the core of what we do is for the people, from saving lives and reducing human suffering during disaster, to the improvement of the community’s quality of life by building resilience within yourself and the community you are working with.”
Sarah’s experiences responding to disasters also continue to define her career journey, although she hasn’t been engaged in a response since completing the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) course in 2019. “As part of organising the Philippine humanitarian mission to Indonesia to extend assistance to the affected population of the Palu, Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in 2018, I realised the importance of policies and plans being formulated and implemented in preparation for events like this”, Sarah says. “This then creates an enabling environment for a more unimpeded and timely response, even in a trans-boundary operation.”
Sarah also draws on her academic background in environmental planning and human ecology when looking at the disaster management scenarios, and highlights the importance of strong local governance and community engagement as the major contributing factors to achieve resiliency.
“Participatory and inclusive approaches are key in preparing and implementing people-centred and community-driven development and DRRM plans. Communities tend to be collectively unique, requiring a unique approach in collaborating with them also. We must try to build connection, relationship, and trust with the communities; dipping your fingers into the water will enable you to better understand and relate.”
Finally, Sarah talks of the importance and context of ASEAN for disaster management, and recognises that ASEAN nations can capitalise on relationships, promote togetherness, and learn from each other regarding disaster.
“I envision that disaster risk reduction and management (DRR) is embedded in everybody’s way of life, and there is a sense of common responsibility. Starting with a strong foundation of community-based disaster risk reduction and management. A collective effort towards a more holistic, inclusive and sustainable DRR in ASEAN can result in a region that is more proactive when it comes to disaster management.”
Written by : Moch Syifa, William Shea | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
PREPARING FOR DELSA’S
HUMANITARIAN AND EMERGENCY LOGISTICS EXPO (HELIX)
In today’s complex yet interconnected world, responding to disasters and other humanitarian emergencies drives a need to rethink and innovate our disaster management processes. Furthermore, with increased disaster risks as the global climate warms, rapid mobilisation of humanitarian assistance and an efficient flow of relief supplies must be achieved. Innovation in the name of saving more lives continues to form an integral part of this solution.
What makes something “innovative”? The answer differs from person to person; but in general, we find something innovative if it tackles a problem in a different way from the norm. This may include looking at the problem from a different perspective, approaching the solution in an unexpected way, or applying a solution from a diverse or different context to work within a context it was not designed for.
In the modern era, the search for innovation is often led by profit-driven companies, and within the disaster management field this is particularly prevalent for businesses who focus on the issue of supply chain and logistics optimisation. For example, DHL has developed its map-based application Resilience 360 as a risk analytics tool for its commercial operations, which also has clear relevance to humanitarian logistics and supply chain management.
With many important developments in commercial logistics, actors within the humanitarian sector must take stock and critically review innovations to understand how they can improve disaster management – from pre-disaster through to the response and recovery phases. Such innovations hold potential to solve challenges concerning the transport, storage and distribution of relief assistance, as well as well as improve the design of relief items themselves.
Immediate access to vital aid such as sanitation, medicine, shelter, and nutrition are key elements of swift disaster response. Examples of innovations in this area include improved product designs of items such as collapsible jerry cans for household water storage, field-deployable medical tents, portable and self-contained semi-rigid shelters, and tools for relief personnel and search-and-rescue operations.
Another key area for disaster managers is the importance of data and information access and utilisation. Increasingly, sharing of satellite imagery – combined with drone technology and robotics – has been used to assess the immediate impacts of disasters and support search-and-rescue operations. Such innovations were evident during the 2018 Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami response.
Additionally, new and environmentally-friendly technologies – especially in manufacturing and transportation, which are especially critical to logistics – form another frontier that is being developed within innovation efforts in the humanitarian sector. This includes the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, in logistics transportation, and recyclable materials for developing emergency relief items. Such examples of environmentally-conscious developments are increasingly important given the undeniable link between climate change and increasing environmental disasters.
While it is easy to be swept up with technological hardware and digital innovations, many innovations may also be simple interventions that reach the most vulnerable groups. For example, the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan – particularly the elderly, people with disabilities and pregnant women – were offered a choice between “direct build” or cash transfers for their shelter assistance, thereby ensuring suitable opportunity for survivors to repair or rebuild their house. Cash transfers and vouchers are also being increasingly utilised over direct provision of relief items, allowing affected populations in making their own decisions on priority expenses during the aftermath of a disaster.
Such a wide array of topics may seem intimidating, but are nevertheless a critical component for any humanitarian effort. The AHA Centre in its role as the coordinating body of disaster management in Southeast Asia, and as part of its core mission of Knowledge and Outreach, continues to participate in and drive forward conversations regarding research and innovation in disaster management and humanitarian logistics.
The AHA Centre’s Disaster Emergency Logistics System of ASEAN (DELSA) programme’s upcoming event, the Humanitarian and Emergency Logistics Expo (HELiX), forms the newest component in the Centre’s steadfast commitment to this role. The event, which will be held in 20-25 May 2021, aims to foster exchange and discussion of new and emerging innovations in the field of humanitarian logistics through an exciting array of panel discussions featuring experts and innovators. HELiX also includes the AHAckathon (a software development competition) and iPitch (an innovation pitching competition), that are both aimed at encouraging and generating diverse new ideas from students, amateurs and professionals. The event is being held as part of Viet Nam’s National Week of Disaster Prevention and Control, led by the Viet Nam National Disaster Management Authority. HELiX will be held in a fully online format, and invites the participation of youth, students, and established agencies in developing new approaches and solutions within this dynamic field through technology and creative design thinking.
Written by : | Caroline Widagdo | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
THE AHA CENTRE WORK PLAN DEVELOPMENT
The ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) members have continued to stay connected amid the array of challenges faced within the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While managing disasters and COVID responses in their respective countries, ASEAN-ERAT members found time to gather virtually as part of ASEAN-ERAT Coffee Chat sessions, and engaged in the ASEAN-ERAT Refresh Our Mind series. The aim of these sessions was to support ASEAN-ERAT members to continue to interact with each other – even if only virtually – as well as to remain engaged with the ASEAN-ERAT system itself and its specialisation courses.
A total of forty-five ASEAN-ERAT members from four ASEAN Member States (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Singapore) participated in the first ASEAN-ERAT Coffee Chat session, which was held online on 4 December, 2020. It provided an opportunity for members, from the programme’s first group (2010 graduates) through to the twelfth group (2019 graduation) to re-connect and discuss the issues related to past responses, as well as the ERAT induction course itself. Based on the feedback from the first session, the second ASEAN-ERAT Coffee Chat was held on 11 December 2020, and deliberated specifically on ASEAN-ERAT’s role into the future. Thirty-eight ASEAN-ERAT members engaged from across all groups, with productive discussions resulting in several ideas on enhancing the ASEAN-ERAT members’ role in the future. One such idea was for more specialised skillsets to enable the ASEAN-ERAT members to support complex and evolving humanitarian emergencies, such as pandemic situations amongst others.
Kicking-off 2021 on January 29, the AHA Centre organised the first event of the ASEAN-ERAT Refresh Our Mind series, which focused on Rapid Needs and Damage Assessments, and was attended by seven ASEAN-ERAT members. The event included a 100-minute online learning task designed for ASEAN-ERAT members who feel they need a refreshment on the ASEAN-ERAT system, as well as Rapid Needs and Damage Assessments, and was delivered through a fun learning, interactive, and insightful session. The event commenced with a quiz that invited ASEAN-ERAT members to refresh on the ASEAN-ERAT system and Rapid Needs and Damage Assessments in general. Then three ASEAN-ERAT members (Ms Mary Grace Somido from the Philippines, Ms Grace Endina and Mr Yos Malole from Indonesia) shared insights on their hands-on experiences conducting a rapid needs assessment during deployments. The final section for the first event was a hands-on activity that allowed participants to develop a scenario-based Assessment Plan. The participants were provided with access to the ASEAN-ERAT Learning Management System to watch three short videos related to the first event’s content.
Participants attending the ASEAN-ERAT Coffee Chat sessions and the first ASEAN-ERAT Refresh Our Mind event provided positive feedback overall, and encouraged the AHA Centre to continue organising such virtual events in 2021 to increase connections and engagement for more ASEAN-ERAT members.
Written by : Madiatri A. Silalahi, Siva Balan | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
Vol 70 – UTILISING VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY FOR TRAINING EXERCISES AND FIELD-BASED EMERGENCY OPERATIONS
UTILISING VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY
FOR TRAINING EXERCISES AND FIELD-BASED EMERGENCY OPERATIONS
Responding to a disaster during the emergency situation is not a simple process. It requires multi-level coordination, multidisciplinary experts, and an array of other resources. Therefore, well-trained human resources for disaster management and emergency response are imperative. Virtual and Augmented Reality holds significant potential to be utilised as a platform for training disaster management actors, particularly in this current pandemic situation. Not only this, but such technology shows significant potential for utilisation in certain aspects of field-based emergency response as well.
According to Kumaran, et al. (2007), in the article Augmented Reality Applications in Disaster Management, for post-disaster relief activities to return to normal, we require multidisplinary experts, stakeholders, and layers of coordination for preparing rescue and recovery plans. This process sometimes takes time, and can cause conditions to become worse. Thus, well-planned actions are key to rescue affected people, and also to reduce the number of casualties.
In order to address the issue of complexity in coordination process, it is suggested that Virtual and Augment Reality technology applications be utilised for training in disaster management as well as in the field during emergency response.
For training, Virtual and Augmented Reality is an effective way to make learning process easier and more efficient. In an emergency response, Virtual and Augmented Reality can help visualise the effects of calamities, by providing increased time to experts for making alternative plans. The technology also helps disaster management actors and stakeholders better plan actions during an emergency situation. By having well-planned structure and actions, the relief work can take place immediately after disaster strikes.
However, there are challenges in developing and implementing Virtual and Augmented Reality in disaster management and emergency response. The main challenge is the cost of the technology, and also limitations for implementing on a wider scale. Those challenges aside, some experts believe that Virtual and Augmented Reality in disaster management – especially in the training process for disaster management actors – can still have advantages.
THE ADVANTAGES OF VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY
IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT TRAINING PROCESS
First, this technology is safer for training as it reduces interactions and dangers faced in the field.
Second, it provides more comprehensive experiences for participants, and provides more realistic disaster scenarios.
Third, although the technology itself is costly, training using Virtual and Augmented Reality is cost effective, as participants and trainers are not required to physically visit certain locations.
Finally, the technology also makes the learning process more visual, and can provide an almost-real experience.
Written by : Moch Syifa
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
FEBRUARY 2021 | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL REVIEW OF FEBRUARY 2021
February 2021 was characterised by a significantly higher number of disaster occurrences in comparison to the average from February during the previous five years – with a six-fold increase overall. In-line with this increase, statistics show significantly higher comparative numbers of affected people (almost 6 times the February five-year average), internally displaced (7 ½ times), damaged houses (36 times), casualties (2 ½ times), and missing persons (7 times). A majority of recorded disasters in February occurred in Indonesia, over 70% of which were floods. These increases can be largely attributed to the Northeast Monsoon conditions that brought wetter conditions to Indonesia (Java Island and regions around it), causing flooding, rain-induced landslides and heavy winds. The effects of a frontal system’s tail end were also evident in eastern parts of the Philippines, which was also subject to Tropical Storm DUJUAN that affected 272,500 people living in the area. La Niña conditions are still present in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and continue to be associated with wetter conditions for Southeast Asia.
A total of 32 significant earthquakes (M≥5.0) were reported in the region during February 2021, although they caused limited damages to populations and infrastructure. Volcanic activity was reported for numerous Alert Level III volcanoes – including Mount Merapi, Sinabung, Semeru, and Karangetang in Indonesia – all of which remain under close monitoring. Recent volcanic activity was also reported for Ibu, Dukono, and Raung mountains in Indonesia, and Taal in the Philippines, but there were no significant related damages.
According to the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), the prevailing Northeast Monsoon conditions are expected to continue into March 2021. During this period, the prevailing northeasterly or easterly winds over the northern ASEAN region could strengthen at times due to the influence of high pressure systems moving eastwards over continental Asia. In addition to the traditional dry season over the northern ASEAN region, areas in the equatorial parts of the southern ASEAN region could occasionally experience dry and windy conditions during March, as they are in the dry phase of the Northeast Monsoon. Inter-monsoon conditions are expected to develop in April and continue into May 2021. The prevailing winds across the ASEAN region are expected to be light and variable, and an increase in shower activities is forecast for the ASEAN region during this period.
For the March to May 2021 period, models predict above-normal rainfall over much of the ASEAN region north of the equator. La Niña conditions are present over the tropical Pacific Ocean, with climate models predicting La Niña conditions to weaken over the boreal spring (March – June). La Niña conditions are typically associated with wetter-than-normal conditions over the Southeast Asia region. While below-average rainfall is expected for much of Indonesia’s Sumatra, Borneo and Sulawesi islands for March – May, these areas tend to be less influenced by La Niña conditions at this time of year. Warmer-than-average temperatures are expected over the equatorial region for the period, with much of mainland Southeast Asia, except Myanmar, experiencing below to near-average temperatures.
Despite the slight chance of above-normal rainfall outlook over the Mekong sub-region in March-May 2021, dry conditions are expected to persist, as it is still the traditional dry season for the Mekong sub-region. During this period, the hotspot situation and risk of transboundary haze occurrence in the sub-region are likely to remain elevated. The gradual return of wet weather conditions from April 2021 onwards is expected to bring some respite to elevated hotspot and haze occurrences over parts of the sub-region. In the southern ASEAN region, hotspot activities should generally subdued during this outlook period. However, during periods of drier weather, there may be brief occurrences of isolated hotspots with localised smoke plumes, in particular over parts of the equatorial region where below-normal rainfall is forecast.
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.
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.
DISTRIBUTION OF TEMASEK FOUNDATION’S REUSABLE FACE MASKS:
MORE MASKS FOR MORE COMMUNITIES
The distribution of the Temasek Foundation’s reusable face masks – as covered in Volume 68 of the Column – has continued to reach many more recipients, including communities affected by the recent earthquake in West Sulawesi of Indonesia. The Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia – PMI) distributed the face masks in Mamuju and Majene – the two most affected areas in West Sulawesi – during the month of February 2021. Other local non-government organisations (NGOs) also have helped distribute the masks to the wider recipients.
Through the AHA Centre, Singapore’s Temasek Foundation donated 1.5 million reusable face masks at the end of 2020 to support the ongoing COVID-19 response in the region. The masks have been distributed to ASEAN Member States, ASEAN centres, entities related to ASEAN, and the PMI. These organisations then engage local non-profit organisations to deliver masks to ASEAN communities. According to PMI, the communities of West Sulawesi are increasingly vulnerable and at high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the disaster situation. Therefore, distributing face masks to these communities can help prevent the spread of the virus. PMI itself received 512,000 face masks that have been distributed to several locations in Indonesia, including West Sulawesi.
As well as the PMI, Diberi Untuk Memberi (Given to Give) – a Jakarta-based non-profit organisation –also delivered face masks to communities in Mamuju. They had also previously been distributing masks to food sellers, local medical centres, and the general community in Jakarta.
Distribution to communities was also undertaken by the ASEAN Insurance Council in Tangerang Selatan, Banten. The Mayor of Tangerang Selatan City, Mr Benyamin Davnie, showed his appreciation for the ASEAN Insurance Council’s efforts, hoping that the spread of the virus could be reduced by having more people wearing face masks.
The AHA Centre staff have also voluntarily helped distribute the face masks to their networks. For example, Ms Yuni Wahyuningtyas, the AHA Centre Project Development Officer, channelled distribution to Canari Foundation, a local non-profit organisation. “I have several networks, especially local non-profit organisations. I think it’s good to also donate the face masks to these organisations so that they will reach the wider community”, she explained.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, highlighted her appreciation of Temasek Foundation’s support to the region’s fight against the pandemic, as well as all parties who have helped distribute the face masks.
“This cooperation between Temasek Foundation and AHA Centre reflects our commitment to fight hand-in-hand against the pandemic in the region”
“It’s also a pleasure knowing that this activity has engaged more local-based organisations and grass-root communities”,
– Adelina Kamal
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo credit: ASEAN Insurance Council, Diberi untuk Memberi, Palang Merah Indonesia (PMI).
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.