Friday, 01 September 2023 / Published in The Other Side



November 2022 marked the end of my internship with the ASCEND (ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management) project at the AHA Centre. I completed my internship while studying for a Master’s degree in the Civil Society Leadership program at Ajou University, Suwon, South Korea. It is one of the scholarship programs held by KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency) under the 2021 Technical Cooperation Program of the Government of the Republic of Korea. Spending almost two years of studying and simultaneously interning in South Korea has been a valuable opportunity to experience what it feels like to work in Korea.

Interning at the AHA Centre feels like I am coming home. I joined as an ASEAN-ERAT member in 2017 and have been deployed on humanitarian missions by the AHA Centre. I have also been involved in some of the ACE programme activities, as a facilitator during the Red Cross Red Crescent Induction Course, and have been invited to join some of the international events. Therefore, when I saw the internship opportunity with the ASCEND project, I immediately applied for it.

The distance of more than 5,000 km between Jakarta, Indonesia and Suwon, South Korea, has made the internship more interesting. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, having online meetings is no longer a new activity for everyone. I am very much grateful for all the support given to me by the immediate supervisor and other colleagues in the ASCEND program. The working environment is friendly and supportive.

Assisting in the ASCEND Benchmarking Visit to South Korea from 26 to 30 September 2022 was also part of the internship. During the visit, participants from the ASEAN Member States came to Korea to gain in-depth knowledge of how the Republic of Korea responds in emergency situations. We also had the opportunity to learn how the Korea National Fire Agency operates. Again, the visit gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge during the internship. The field visits were one of the most exciting things, since it gave me the chance to participate in offline activities after Covid-19 restrictions. Visiting places from Sejong to Seoul during the Benchmarking Visit was particularly thrilling, especially places that I may not have been able to visit as a student. For example, visiting the KNFA Fire Academy, Seoul Emergency Operation Center, and many more. Seeing the working places related to emergency response in Korea provided me with insights into how South Korea has transformed from a developing country to a progressive developed country.

Again, this internship has given me a broader perspective on working in an international environment, especially in South Korea. However, I do feel something is still incomplete, since my Korean language skills are still limited. Otherwise, I believe I could have contributed more to this internship. As I mentioned earlier, I have had several experiences working with the AHA Centre in Indonesia and on international missions. This internship has added even more value, and it feels like I was being prepared to return to work again after graduation in January 2023.


“Thank you, AHA Centre, the ASCEND Project, and the ASEAN Korea Cooperation Fund, for this valuable opportunity. I am very much looking forward to having more working opportunities with the AHA Centre.”




Written by: Andreane Tampubolon, ASCEND Intern

Friday, 01 September 2023 / Published in The Other Side


My name is Aulia Dara Nur Arifin (Dara), and I first discovered the AHA Centre many years ago when I was a fresh graduate looking for a job. Being involved with a humanitarian or development organisation has always been my goal, so I bookmarked the AHA Centre’s vacancy page, and it has remained there ever since.

Years passed, and after a somewhat life-altering decision to resign from my previous job and enrol for a master’s degree in Social Welfare, I visited that page again and was delighted to find a vacancy for an internship with the ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND) Project, which I applied for in a heartbeat.

Long story short, I received an acceptance email during one of my classes, which luckily was online; otherwise, I would have to excuse myself to express my excitement. Thus began the 6-month-journey of my internship at the AHA Centre.

Previously working in a profit industry and being out of touch with a humanitarian environment made me wary, and I questioned myself numerous times if I could be of help to the project, especially since it focuses on the certification process for disaster management, an area I was eager to learn about but was far from understanding. I was very glad this thought was immediately shattered as the team, consisting of Mas Andrew, Excel and Kak Haura, guided me thoroughly. They not only introduced the project and my responsibilities and tasks within this internship, but also explained how a regional organisation/project operates, maintain its relationship with Member States and other stakeholders, as well as how they carry out their mission through various projects within the AHA Centre.

Not long after I joined, I was greeted with ASCEND’s first project, which was the first Assessor Training in Viet Nam, exposing me firsthand to a regional project’s preparation prior to an event. Although I didn’t attend the training myself, I had a very strong sense of belonging as I was included in every step of the event, an amenity I continued to feel throughout my internship period. Soon after this event concluded, I was greeted with the project’s next event, which was the Benchmarking Visit to the Republic of Korea. Even though the logistical and administrative work were similar to the previous event, the objective was different, and I got to be more involved in the development of its handbook to facilitate the visit.

Upon completing the Benchmarking Visit, I was again greeted by the project’s final big event of the year, the ASCEND Certification Trial Simulation and Evaluation Workshop. It was around this time that my understanding of the project and its objectives became more solid. The prior activities, such as the Assessor Training, the development of the toolbox and its competency standards, as well as the continuous efforts to improve the process through discussions with relevant parties, served as significant steps for this event. My responsibilities grew more diverse, and I was glad to carry out different tasks and become more involved in its logistical and administrative work, which proved to be a crucial process to ensure smooth implementation. I was very delighted and proud to end my internship with such an inspiring event and had the chance of working alongside hard-working, kind, and supportive people.

If I had to describe my internship experience using one word, it would be FUN. The word itself is often associated with an easy-going picture of life, but for me, through what seemed like a roller coaster ride and quakes (literally) of lessons and experiences, I was able to enjoy every second of it and still crave more. Balancing my studies with my internship was challenging, but the ASCEND Project Management Team (PMT) made it easy and was very supportive as they provided me with the flexibility to attend and focus on both without jeopardising the other. This was also the word I used to describe ASCEND’s fifth Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting, an occasion I was honoured to be involved in and attend, which provided me with knowledge on how regional forums are conducted, and I was also very impressed to learn a new language. English was spoken – however, I realised how communications used within this setting is always geared towards positivity and encouragement, a significant tool to achieve collective development and progress, which resulted in fruitful discussions and inputs.

People go through different experiences to understand and find meaning in the work they do, and for me, this internship brought it back from a deep slumber. It was here that I discovered how my studies are not just a shortcut to improve someone’s social welfare or achieve a better quality of life. It is an elaborate and comprehensive process of planning, identifying issues and potentials, designing growth and development strategies, and having a well-thought-out implementation and evaluation and monitoring process of its activities and objectives to achieve social welfare as its ultimate goal. For the ASCEND project, the goal is improving people’s lives by providing competent experts and professionals to facilitate disaster management activities. It has shown me that social change takes time because the goal is the development of human capital through capacity building, a valuable investment for the people, which I was very fortunate to be able to witness and experience through my internship for the ASCEND Project at the AHA Centre.


Written by: Aulia Dara Nur Arifin, ASCEND Intern

Friday, 01 September 2023 / Published in AHA Centre Diary 1


Equipping Leaders for Effective Emergency Response

The ASEAN-ERAT Level 3 (Team Leader) Pilot Course was held in Bogor, Indonesia, from 8 to 15 May 2023 with the support of the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). Hosted by the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB), the Pilot Course was attended by 11 experienced ASEAN-ERAT Members from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Viet Nam, and the AHA Centre.


Strengthening the ASEAN-ERAT System for Disaster Response

Since its establishment in 2008, the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) has been deployed to numerous emergency response missions across seven countries in the region. The team has played a pivotal role in providing leadership and coordination services during emergencies, contributing to ASEAN centrality in times of crisis.

In order to strengthen the ASEAN-ERAT system for disaster preparedness and response in line with the ASEAN Vision 2025, the ASEAN-ERAT personnel capacity-building has been focused at three levels: In-Country Team (Level 1), Specialist (Level 2), and Team Leader (Level 3). To achieve this, the AHA Centre has conducted several advanced courses, including rapid needs assessment, information management, humanitarian logistics, humanitarian civil-military coordination, and early recovery assessment.

The ASEAN-ERAT Level 3 (Team Leader) Pilot Course marks a significant milestone in the continuous strengthening of ASEAN-ERAT. As the frequency and severity of natural disasters in the region increase, the need for a well-trained and capable response team becomes ever more crucial. Thus, the ASEAN-ERAT Level 3 course aimed to develop experienced humanitarian response leaders with strong leadership skills who can assume authority and lead ASEAN response operations on the ground.

A customised course curriculum for Team Leaders was developed to address the specific needs and context of the ASEAN-ERAT. The curriculum focuses on teaching nine essential leadership traits, including Command and Control, Knowledge in Disaster Management, Negotiation Skills, Presentation Skills, Communication, Coordination, Reporting to the AHA Centre, and Financial Management.


Building Skills and Testing Leadership

At the Closing Ceremony of the ASEAN-ERAT Level 3 Pilot Course, Executive Director of the AHA Centre Mr. Lee Yam Ming congratulated the participants for being the first batch of ASEAN-ERAT Members to be trained as future Team Leaders. He expressed his hope that participants would continue to lend their strength to the ASEAN-ERAT within and beyond the ASEAN region. “Not only by responding to the call for deployment and leading ASEAN-ERAT in the field, but by also guiding and nurturing future ERAT Team Leaders and Members as role models and mentors,” he added.

Participants of the ASEAN-ERAT Level 3 (Team Leader) Pilot Course themselves found the course to be a great opportunity to gain new skills and prepare for the realities of leading a team on the field. “The best thing is that there is a lot of emphasis and focus on the soft skills element of leadership,” said Ihsan Fauzano, an ASEAN-ERAT Member from Indonesia who participated in the Pilot Course. “We learned communication, negotiation, decision making, team dynamics, delegating. And for the last 3 days, we learned stress management and time management during the Simulation Exercise.”

Dr. Janaki Rani, an ASEAN-ERAT Batch 8 member from Malaysia, added that the training of ASEAN-ERAT Team Leaders is crucial to ensure a successful mission. “The outcome of the mission would be better when we train leaders who are capable of handling the entire team, produce good reports, and can give good information that helps the AHA Centre and affected Member States to make good decisions, leading to an effective disaster response,” said Dr. Janaki.

The ASEAN-ERAT Level 3 (Team Leader) Pilot Course represents a significant step in strengthening the ASEAN-ERAT’s ability to respond effectively to natural disasters. By developing competent and experienced team leaders, ASEAN-ERAT aims to enhance its coordination and leadership services during emergencies. The course not only equips participants with essential skills and knowledge but also fosters a network of capable leaders who will guide and nurture future ASEAN-ERAT team members. With continued support from partners and a commitment to continuous improvement, ASEAN-ERAT is well-positioned to meet the challenges posed by the increasing occurrence of natural disasters in the region.





Written by: Gladys Respati, Madiatri Silalahi, Anggaripeni Mustikasiwi | Photo credit: AHA Centre

Friday, 01 September 2023 / Published in Partnership


Background of the Project

The project ‘Improving ASEAN’s Humanitarian Assistance Capacity in Multi Hazard’ – funded by the Government of Canada (Global Affairs’ Canada) – launched in April 2022, will run for five years, from 2022 – 2027.  

One of the guiding principles of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme 2021 – 2025 is on Gender and Inclusion. This principle inculcates a whole-of-society approach in disaster management that leaves no one behind by recognizing the key roles and unique needs of the communities, especially those that are most affected during disasters, including women and other vulnerable groups. As one of the implementors of the AADMER Work Programme 2021 – 2025, the AHA Centre proposed this project to further expand the capacity of ASEAN Member States and Local Partners through a multi-sectoral approach to systematically integrate such gender and protection considerations into disaster management.

Through this project, the AHA Centre supports ASEAN Member States and Local Partners to recognize and set the priorities for indicators and targets related to protection, gender, and inclusiveness (PGI). This project believes that building resilience of women, and other vulnerable groups within the national and regional resilience will help in addressing and mitigating socio-economic impact of the disasters.

The Project adopts the AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025 and formulized the ASEAN Regional Framework on Protection, Gender, and Inclusion in the ASEAN Region. Subsequently, a new AADMER Technical Working Group on Protection, Gender, and Inclusion (TWG-PGI) was established in 2021 to support the mainstreaming of the gender and social inclusion guiding principles throughout the disaster management efforts in the region.


Main Components of the Project

The Project has three main components, among others, (i) Enhanced Regional Coordination Mechanism to respond to multiple types of disasters, which integrates PGI, Climate Change Adaptation and Environmental Sustainability measures; (ii) Improved Knowledge of ASEAN responders in addressing the needs and interests of vulnerable groups during emergency periods; and (iii) Improved disaster management and emergency response practices in ASEAN Member States.


Upcoming activities of 2023

As of February 2023,
the Canada Project had its first series of activities—Exchange Forum on ASEAN’s Practices on Data Disaggregation in Disaster Management: A Way Towards Protection, Gender, and Inclusiveness (PGI), and the 1st Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting of the Project, which were held in Da Nang, Viet Nam on 22-24 February 2023. The PGI Exchange Forum is designed to help participants exchange knowledge on PGI experiences, which will be a key principle for the achievement of this project. The PGI Exchange Forum and the 1st PSC Meeting were held back-to-back with the 5th Meeting of the Technical Working Group on Protection, Gender and Inclusion (TWG-PGI), and 5th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management Working Group on Prevention and Mitigation (ACDM WG P&M).

Starting Quarter 2 of 2023 (April – June),
the project aims to conduct Consultation and Desk Review on expanding the existing New Risk Scenario. This activity falls under the outcome of “Enhancing Regional Coordination Mechanism to respond to multiple types of disaster which integrates PGI, Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainability measures”. Within this activity, the project aims to develop a new Disaster Risk Scenario Study, adding to the three existing scenarios in the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP). The new Disaster Risk Scenario will focus on Transboundary Flood within the Mekong sub-region. Additionally, the scenario will integrate PGI, Climate Change Adaptation and Environmental Sustainability as part of the Project’s key thematic areas.

In Quarter 3 of 2023 (July – August),
the project intends to organize consultation workshops to validate the New Risk Scenario. Within the same quarter, the project further aims to conduct Capacity Building on PGI, focusing on the exchange of experiences among ASEAN Member States through cross-learning.

In the last Quarter 4 of 2024 (October – December),
the project aims to deploy experts from the Member States to other Member States as part of Capacity Development Support.


Canada’s Support

The Project Management Team has been recruited in Jakarta, Indonesia, and have begun their work alongside the Disaster Monitoring & Analysis Team (DMA) in the AHA Centre. The Team is currently made up of a Project Officer and Project Assistant, who will implement the project’s activities and strategy with support from the Government of Canada and experts from the AHA Centre’s partners, including UNWOMEN, LACER, and SDC.

This forms an exciting journey for the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Member States to ensure this initiative further contributes to the envisions of AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025. The AHA Centre, through the Canada-funded project, looks forward to working closely with the Government of Canada, NDMOs, ASEAN Member States, The ASEAN Secretariat, and AHA Centre partners, to integrate PGI, CCA, and ES into the efforts of increasing capacity, enhancing standby arrangement with new disaster scenario, and further increasing collaboration and partnership will increase resiliency of multiple types of disasters within AMS and Local Partners.


Written by: Pwint Mon Swe, Htet Wai Zin, Lawrence Anthony Dimailig