ASEAN MEMBER STATES EMBARK ON THE SECOND BENCHMARKING VISIT TO THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA
The Second ASCEND Benchmarking Visit marked a collaborative effort between the ASEAN Member States and the Republic of Korea to bolster their emergency and disaster response capabilities. Taking place from 28 to 31 August 2023 in the Republic of Korea, this event offered 26 participants from the ten ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN-Korea Programme Management Team (AKPMT), and the AHA Centre a unique opportunity to learn from South Korea’s exemplary practices in disaster management.
The four-day schedule was packed with informative and hands-on experiences in various benchmarking sites. First, the delegates visited the Fire Equipment Center in Eumseong County, where they had the chance to understand the critical role of the Fire Equipment Center in managing and inspecting fire equipment. The visit also included a briefing by the Korea Fire Institute, providing an overview of fire equipment management, followed by an exhilarating hands-on experience driving a fire vehicle simulator.
On the second day, the participants travelled to Busan and visited the Busan Fire Academy. The academy offered delegates a comprehensive introduction to its various operations, including the rescue and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operations at sea during the maritime disaster response. An observation of a simulated exercise (SIMEX) on emergency response at sea ended the visit to the academy.
Still in Busan, delegates explored the Busan 119 Safety Experience Center, which features various facilities for safety training and simulations. Briefings on each facility and its functions were followed by active participation in programmes such as earthquake and cyclone simulations. This immersive experience provided insights into disaster preparedness and response strategies.
The visit culminated with a trip to the International Fire and Safety Expo Korea 2023, where state-of-the-art fire technology and safety innovations from companies worldwide were on display. Delegates had the opportunity to observe cutting-edge fire and safety equipment, fostering connections with international partners and staying updated on the latest advancements in the field.
Similar to the first visit, the second ASCEND Benchmarking Visit was facilitated by the Korean National Fire Agency, which supports and contributes to the ongoing implementation and development of ASCEND. South Korea’s commitment to sharing expertise and facilitating learning among its regional counterparts was evident throughout the visit. The event concluded with participants expressing gratitude to the Republic of Korea for its warm hospitality and invaluable insights. The commitment to ongoing collaboration and knowledge sharing in the realm of emergency and disaster response was reaffirmed, promising a safer and more resilient future for all.
Written by: Excel Botigan | Photos by: AHA Centre
A MILESTONE TOWARDS ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE BEYOND THE REGION
The AHA Centre, with the support of the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), organised a workshop on the Lessons Learned from Humanitarian Operations for the 7.8 Magnitude Earthquake in Turkiye and Syria on 18 and 19 September 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The devastating earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria on 6 February 2023 triggered an outpouring of international sympathy and support. A report from the United Nations News estimates that the earthquake resulted in more than 410,000 casualties, causing homelessness to 1.5 million people and more than USD 45 billion worth of damages. Considering the severity of the disaster’s impact, on 7 February 2023, the Government of Turkey announced that it would welcome international aid. As of 9 February 2023, more than 100 countries, including several ASEAN countries, i.e., Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, also mobilised their personnel and logistics support to Turkiye and Syria.
Such large-scale international humanitarian operations are infrequent. It offers a glimpse of how the global humanitarian system can work to support communities affected by disasters. Therefore, the workshop aimed, first, for ASEAN to learn first-hand the dynamics, challenges, and best practices in helping an affected state that is geographically far from the region. Second, to identify critical lessons from emergency response operations in Turkiye and Syria that can enhance ASEAN’s ability to respond as One beyond the region. This learning opportunity will shed light for ASEAN in manifesting One ASEAN One Response Declaration, which was signed in 2016 by the ASEAN Leaders, outlining ASEAN’s ambition to respond as one within and beyond the region and is also contributing to the goal of ASEAN as a global disaster management leader by 2025.
The two-day workshop brought together experts from ASEAN Dialogue Partners, such as Japan, Australia, India, the United States of America, and New Zealand, to share learning points from their humanitarian operations in Turkiye and Syria. In addition, the workshop also brought representatives from the ASEAN Member States (AMSs) who deployed humanitarian teams to Turkiye and Syria, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
The workshop’s first day focused on bringing participants to understand the common operational picture, challenges, and best practices of the response through a keynote speaker from the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presentations from ASEAN Dialogue Partners and partner organisations, and panel discussions. The panel discussions were divided into lessons learned and coordination at the strategic and tactical/field levels. Discussion on the strategic level was shaped around crucial decision points in sending assistance, collaboration and coordination with the affected government and other assisting governments, and resource allocation.
Meanwhile, the tactical/field level scope discussed operational challenges to mobilise resources, mainly the deployment and operationalisation of the USAR and Disaster Response teams and coordination among the teams from different countries on the ground.
On the second day of the workshop, a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with the AMS and ASEAN Dialogue Partners and partner organisations, respectively, took place in parallel, focusing on how ASEAN can realise the vision of responding beyond the region. The AMS group, comprising representatives of the NDMOs and national USAR agencies, focused on identifying current capacities and mechanisms of ASEAN and its AMS that can be used to advance the OAOR vision. The FGD with AMS continued with a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) exercise, which guided the Group in identifying the strengths and weaknesses and broader opportunities and threats of realising ASEAN’s mission beyond the region.
In parallel, the second Group with ASEAN Dialogue Partners and partner organisations focused on identifying possible support that the partners can provide should ASEAN extend its humanitarian assistance to other regions. This perspective is expected to complement the discussion in Group 1 so that ASEAN can have a balanced understanding of what needs to be prepared moving forward.
The workshop resulted in several strategic and technical recommendations for ASEAN to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study for ASEAN responding beyond the region. It further recommended exploring the development of a roadmap as part of the study for ASEAN to transform its capabilities for providing humanitarian support following a disaster outside the ASEAN region.
Written by: Grace Endina & Dipo Summa | Photos by: AHA Centre
SDC’S SUPPORT TO THE AHA CENTRE:
ENHANCING CAPACITIES OF THE AMS AND AHA CENTRE THROUGH THE SECONDMENT PROGRAMME
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been a steadfast supporter of the AHA Centre since 2017. In the first collaboration, SDC and the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM) supported preparations for the 2018 ARDEX, in particular by deploying experts to support scenario development and referee training. Following the success of this initial collaboration, SDC and the AHA Centre then signed a new Memorandum of Intent (MoI) that is much broader in scope.
Phase I of the collaboration was implemented in 2020-2021. Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitment between SDC and the AHA Centre to enhance collaboration remained strong. This led to the continuation of the second phase of the MoI, with covered a longer period in order to achieve more strategic objectives and allow greater flexibility in implementing activities.
The MoI for the second phase was signed during the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) on 2 August 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. This MoI outlined a two-year collaboration between the AHA Centre and SDC, spanning from 2022 to 2024. One of the components in this collaboration is capacity development through the implementation of a secondment programme for the ASEAN Member States and AHA Centre staff.
The secondment programme has two main objectives. First, to support the capacity development of both National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and AHA Centre staff, particularly on disaster monitoring and analysis. This capacity development will be achieved through an increased understanding and better awareness of the operational mechanisms in both the AHA Centre and the NDMOs for monitoring and analysing disasters and hazards. The second objective is to create better operational working relationships between the AHA Centre and the NDMOs, through increased familiarity with each other’s operational structures.
This programme, set to continue until 2024, allows the AHA Centre to support four secondments from NDMOs to the AHA Centre annually, as well as four secondments from the AHA Centre to the NDMOs, for a maximum duration of two weeks each.
The first batch of the secondment programme was conducted on 16-27 October 2023, with participation from six NDMO staff coming from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Viet Nam. During this programme, the secondees worked together with Jakarta-based AHA Centre staff, in the Disaster Monitoring and Analysis (DMA) and Preparedness and Response (P&R) Units. They also had the opportunity to visit the ASEAN Secretariat and the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of BNPB Indonesia.
Beyond the secondment programme, the collaboration also includes several activities, including other capacity building programmes. All activities under this collaboration will contribute to the implementation of the AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025 and the AHA Centre Work Plan 2025.
Written by: Moch Syifa | Photos by: AHA Centre
On 15 September, Typhoon Mangkhut (locally known as Ompong) made landfall in Cagayan Province, the Philippines, unleashing devastating winds and torrential rains. In its wake, over 2.5 million people were affected, 50 lives lost, and hundreds injured. Homes, infrastructure, and livelihoods across eight provinces and seven cities/municipalities were severely affected. Typhoon Mangkhut, with a diameter surpassing that of 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, caused damages estimated at over USD 6 million.
Pre-emptive actions by the Government of the Philippines, such as early evacuations and the provision of essential supplies played a large part in reducing the number of casualties and mitigating the disaster’s impact. The AHA Centre’s involvement was also instrumental, both in the preparation for and response to Typhoon Mangkhut. Working closely with the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the AHA Centre tracked the typhoon’s progress as it moved towards the Philippines.
An In-Country Liaison Team (ICLT) arrived in the Philippines hours after the typhoon’s landfall, standing by at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) of the NDRRMC to provide support to national relief efforts. Three ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) Information Management Specialists were also deployed to support the NDRRMC with data analysis, data visualisation, and report writing.
The AHA Centre mobilised relief items worth over USD 275,000, including 30 tonnes of rice, four generator sets, and 2,000 rolls of tarpaulins, which were formally handed over to the NDRRMC in a meeting on 24 September 2018.
Five years later, the ASEAN response to Typhoon Mangkhut reminds us of the importance of preparedness, resilience, and unity in the face of calamities. ASEAN’s unified approach stands testament to the collective strength and solidarity of the ASEAN Member States in the spirit of “One ASEAN One Response.”
Written by: Gladys Respati | Photos by: AHA Centre