IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Social media plays an increasingly important role in disaster management. Some would even argue that it has played a vital role in recent years, with lives saved and much needed food, water and supplies delivered to where they are needed most.
While major news media companies provide ample coverage when a disaster occurs anywhere in the world, information gets posted and exchanged at a much faster pace on social media. Text, pictures and videos get published at lightning speed and often make it to TV, even if they are not of the usual broadcast quality.
A case in point is the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010 when 2,000 posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media proved critical in guiding rescue efforts.
When an earthquake struck the island of Lombok in Indonesia, social media was key in bringing help to the villages that were affected most. Many of the pictures and videos of the devastation posted on Instagram were also helpful in raising funds.
There is also the “Safety Check” feature that Facebook has added. More and more people now use it to tell their social media network that they are safe and unharmed. It has already been used by 9 million people in the United States when hurricanes have struck.
Celebrities have been known to turn to social media for fund-raising, appealing to their fan base. US celebrity James Woods used his Twitter account during the fires that ravaged California in 2019. Woods used Twitter to post reports and updates that resulted in several people being reunited with their loved ones.
As ordinary people become journalists, a lot of information gets shared and published. Disasters get reported as they happen. And with this wealth of information, which is posted more often in real-time, rescue organisations and agencies are able use this to map out relief efforts.
While there is the freedom of sharing information, there is also the issue of authenticity and credibility. “Fake news” has now proliferated to the extent that a lot of rescue groups treat social media posts with caution. Other posts can be misleading too. A picture of one flooded street cannot give you the overall situation in a community. But while this has become an issue, it still cannot be denied that social media plays a significant role in disseminating information and bringing aid to where it is much needed.
Written by : Judith Garcia Meese
WHY HELIX IS NOT A SUCCESS (YET)
The name HELiX was a year in the making. And the event itself had a much longer history. Gaynor Tanyang, the DELSA Programme Coordinator, is here to share the story.
HELiX, or the Humanitarian and Emergency Logistics Innovation Expo, is a component of the Disaster Emergency Logistics System of ASEAN (DELSA) project, which is one of the AHA Centre’s oldest-running projects. In 2018, DELSA Phase II was approved, which has three components: the establishment of DELSA satellite warehouses in the Philippines and Thailand; capacity building; and innovation.
Planning for HELiX started in 2019 with three cogs: problem identification; sharing and recognising innovative approaches; and the development of concrete action plans from National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs).
In March 2020, my colleague Ms. Caroline Widagdo and myself met with our country host, Viet Nam, travelling to Hanoi on an almost empty plane, face masks on. We excitedly planned for a big physical event in conjunction with the commemoration of Viet Nam’s National Day of Disaster Prevention and Control in May 2020. HELiX was also going to be one of the flagship events of Viet Nam’s ASEAN chairmanship. As the cases of COVID-19 grew in number globally and in the region, the co-organisers agreed to push back the staging of HELiX to 2021, with a prayerful optimism that the event could be held physically onsite.
Meanwhile, the DELSA team got busy digging for examples of logistics innovations that could be applied in the humanitarian context and found a myriad of them. We had insightful discussions with partners, old friends and industry experts to understand how they defined “innovation”. We sought their views about the trends and challenges in the supply chain and what ASEAN could do to improve humanitarian logistics. In a parallel process, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported research on logistics-capacity needs assessment in ASEAN. Meanwhile, Ms. Agustina (Rina) Tnunay, our internal authority on logistics was busy asking the NDMOs in ASEAN what the future of DELSA should look like.
All of these initiatives became part of the “problem definition” that influenced the design of HELiX. Thinking time was on our hands, the DELSA team was emboldened to take on a complex conference design that had simultaneous sessions, a hackathon, a pitching competition and an exhibition. We wanted the conference experience itself to look, hear and feel innovative. But 2020 drew to a close with all of us still working from home. The situation still felt very volatile and uncertain.
The decision to go ahead with HELiX in a fully online mode was agreed in mid-February. We set-up the virtual conference infrastructure with the support of Mr. Risdianto Irawan, our internal tech buff. We introduced the idea of HELiX to everyone we could reach by email.
We had HELiX meetings back-to-back – with partners and their partners – and we were invigorated that they, too, were excited about the idea. And the event itself had a very fruitful outcome – both in numbers and in substance. We even met our target with regard to our competition prizes threefold! Winners got a chance to visit Singapore, receive mentoring from financial investment experts and cash prizes! And many will agree, they saw, they heard and they felt innovative at some point being part of the HELiX experience.
SO WHY DO I SAY THAT HELIX IS NOT A SUCCESS (YET)?
Problem identification? Check. Sharing and recognising innovative solutions? Check. Developing a concrete action plan by ASEAN Member States? In progress.
When I was leading the visioning and planning of HELiX, I had in mind that the outcomes of HELiX would feed into the new phase of the ASEAN Humanitarian Logistics Roadmap. This would seal the trifecta of HELiX success.
And while planning HELiX, I could hear Co-Chair of the Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Working Group (PRRWG) Mr. Abdul Razak’s voice in my head saying, “HELiX should address the challenges of ASEAN Member States in humanitarian logistics.”
So, here is where we are. We celebrate the bonds and networks that flourished during HELiX. We cheer the indomitable spirit of the AHA Centre staff who provided an unforgettable virtual experience in a time of COVID-19.
But we have only begun our baby steps. The real seal of success for HELiX is to see, hear and feel the visible and tangible innovative solutions at work in the 10 ASEAN Member States. Who knows? Our Donation Matching App by Padayon, could be ASEAN’s platform for humanitarian giving.
And then, there’s still AHACKATHON.
Written by : Gaynor Tanyang
Vol 72 – AS LOCAL AS POSSIBLE: STUDY ON LOCALISATION OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT DURING PANDEMIC AS LOCAL AS POSSIBLE
AS LOCAL AS POSSIBLE
STUDY ON LOCALISATION OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT DURING PANDEMIC
Localisation is an international process involving the empowerment of local actors in humanitarian assistance. At the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, leaders declared that humanitarian action should be “as local as possible, as international as necessary.” This definition highlighted the disparities among international humanitarian actors, UN agencies, international non-governmental organisations and local humanitarian actors in disaster management. Since there is no universal definition, stakeholders debate the different interpretations of localisation. Drawing from the insights of key informants, the following working concept of localisation was used:
Localisation is a process of recognizing, respecting and strengthening the independence of leadership and decision-making of local actors in humanitarian and disaster response. Local actors include national actors, sub-national actors, local authorities, local communities and local civil society organisations.
In order to better understand how localisation is perceived in the region, the AHA Centre collaborated in research with the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University and the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) based in Hawaii. This required stakeholder analysis to (i) determine how localisation evolved, particularly since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, (ii) define the role of the AHA Centre in operationalising local efforts and analysing sustainable methodologies and (iii) reflecting on adaptations of the broader Southeast Asian humanitarian system.
The research, through qualitative interviews and quantitative surveys, explored the perspectives of key stakeholders in the humanitarian sector. These informants and respondents included ASEAN Member States and other governmental bodies, donors, international organisations, including the United Nations (UN) and non-UN affiliated, local, national and non-governmental organisations, national societies and other community partners. The surveys and the interviews were conducted between February and March 2021, while the final report was completed in April 2021.
The definition of localisation depends significantly on each organisation’s scope and scale of engagement. Respondents from international organisations deemed national organisations as local, while national organisations deemed actors at the sub-national and community levels as local. They also recognised capacity-building as the most integral dimension of localisation, thus emphasising the importance of empowering local actors through laws, training and knowledge sharing, among other aspects.
Survey respondents cited the AHA Centre as having an essential role in coordination and providing visibility to regional and national actors. Interviewees and respondents expressed the belief that the AHA Centre was helpful in capacity-building, coordination, partnership and in furthering support for these localisation dimensions. Many survey respondents also agreed that regional organisations were essential in furthering local-led responses.
The research also produced several strategic recommendations for ASEAN and the AHA Centre to improve localisation, including:
▸ Creating a leadership programme for civil society organisations (CSOs);
▸ Allocating specific staff for CSO engagement;
▸ Monitoring and evaluating CSO engagement through robust indicators;
▸ Providing visibility platforms for local CSOs;
▸ Using local resources to overcome language barriers; and
▸ Communicating with locals in real time during disasters
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the urgency of localisation to the fore. The pandemic has severely impacted personnel mobility within countries and between countries. Due to the prevailing restrictions, international organisations’ personnel often cannot help affected areas. As such, adaptation plans have been drawn up to address the impact of COVID-19, including operational modality and geographical areas of implementation to alleviate the personnel and logistical restrictions.
Respondents felt that COVID-19 either hampered or accelerated the process of localisation. A respondent from an international organisation mentioned how COVID-19 had put its capacity-building efforts for local actors on hold due to a lack of internet connectivity in certain communities and the inability to train in person. Governments also had to rely on local organisations, instead of external support. Leaders resorted to activating local organisations from the affected regions to prevent the spread of the disease.
In conclusion, the study highlights the complexities of, as well as opportunities for, localisation in the region during the pandemic. There is an increased recognition among the actors of the importance of localisation. Of all the different perspectives that were presented on localisation, the research found that almost all respondents could at least agree on one thing: humanitarian action should be “as locals as possible, as international as necessary.”
Written by : Daniel Boey, Sarah Hussain, Chennan Jin, Alexis R. Moore, Nopasi Niyamabha, Fariha Wasti, and Mark James Wood – Columbia University – School of International and Public Affairs
TRAVEL CORRIDOR ARRANGEMENTS:
BETWEEN ECONOMIC AND HEALTH INTERESTS
An article by the AHA Centre’s own Grace Endina – a preparedness and response officer in the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) – was recently published on the Jakarta Post’s website. Named Travel corridor arrangements: Between economic and health interests, this article provides an insight into travel during the time of pandemic, and highlights areas for learning that could be utilised during this or future pandemics. The following are excerpts from Grace’s article, with the full version linked at the end of the text.
I am one of the few people who were fortunate to be able to travel amid the pandemic, flying from Jakarta to Yangon, Myanmar. Indeed, it was really challenging even before I hopped on the flight in my mask and face shield, and with my handy bottle of hand sanitizer. Thanks to the pandemic, I had to transit in Singapore and then Malaysia, due to the different procedures in each country. These included the validity period of COVID-19 test results, flight availability, sudden visa requirements and transit restrictions for passengers arriving from certain cities.
At Yangon International Airport, airport authorities and officers from the Ministry of Health strictly recorded passengers’ data and then transported them via a shuttle service to a designated quarantine hotel. Foreigners were taken to one hotel, where we were required to self-quarantine for exactly two weeks. Another interesting observation was the rather long time that passed between arriving flights at the three airports, which I guess was intended to enable airport authorities and health officials to manage and control the arrival of international travelers.
The most interesting aspect was the quarantine process and period. While some studies have suggested that the coronavirus may not be detected in the early days of exposure, each country applied different quarantine periods and different swab testing frequencies and intervals for travelers. Singapore and Myanmar, for instance, imposed a very strict quarantine period of 14 days and required two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Once you exit the immigration counters in these countries, you are transported on a bus to the designated quarantine hotel, accompanied by airport authorities. The airport authorities have already booked your hotel for the quarantine period, so you have no options to stay at different hotel. The quarantine hotels are not open to regular guests. Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the quarantine period is currently five days with two PCR tests. As soon as you exit the airport, salespeople from designated quarantine hotels and designated taxi companies offer their services to arriving travelers who do not have bookings yet.
My experience traveling during COVID-19 showed that each country has adopted different arrival procedures and quarantine protocols. I guess this depends mainly on the availability of their resources and interests in view of restoring essential business services. While it is clear that the generally prescribed quarantine period is 14 days, there is no prescribed method for how best to manage airports amid the pandemic. The health sector advises travelers to quarantine for 14 days without taking an immediate swab test, but others may think differently in terms of issues of practicality rather than what should be done from the perspective of public health. With these different standards for travel corridor arrangements, is it possible to protect business interests and public health at the same time?
Written by : Grace Endina
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
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.
INCLUSIVE DISASTER MANAGEMENT FOR PERSONS WITH
With International Day of Persons with Disabilities being celebrated on 3 December 2020, it brings with it a timely reminder to explore disaster management in relation to persons with disabilities across ASEAN. While different populations face similar risks of exposure to the impacts of disaster, the vulnerability of communities such as persons with disabilities can be much greater.
Increased vulnerability is related to socio-economic conditions, civic and social empowerment, and access to mitigation and relief resources for persons with disabilities, and see them disproportionately affected in disaster, emergency, and conflict situations. This is usually due to inaccessible evacuation practices, disaster response actions (including shelters, camps, and food distribution), and then ongoing recovery efforts.
Findings reveal that persons with disabilities are more likely to be left behind or abandoned during evacuation in disasters and conflict, which is often due to a lack of inclusive preparation and planning, as well as inaccessible facilities and services, and transportation systems. Most shelters and refugee camps are not accessible, and people with disabilities are many times even turned away from shelters and refugees camps due to a perception that they require “complex” medical services.
Disruption to overall physical, social, economic, and environmental networks and support systems affect persons with disabilities much more than the general population. There is also a potential for discrimination on the basis of disability when resources are scarce. Furthermore, the needs of persons with disabilities continue to be excluded through the longer-term recovery and reconstruction efforts, thus missing another opportunity to ensure that cities are accessible and inclusively resilient to future disasters.
Mainstreaming disability into emergency responses and preparedness, by making disability issues and persons with disabilities visible in national and international actions plans and policies, is essential to ensure equality and human rights for all. Studies show that including the needs and voices of persons with disabilities within all stages of the disaster management process – especially during planning and preparedness – can significantly reduce their vulnerability, and increase the effectiveness of government response and recovery efforts.
However, despite an increasing worldwide focus on disaster risk reduction as opposed to disaster response, most city and related government agencies fail to adequately plan for – or include – persons with disabilities in their disaster management activities. Rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts must not only be inclusive and responsive to the needs of all people, including persons with disabilities, but should include the participation of persons with disabilities, to ensure that their needs and rights are respected. Women with disabilities are a particularly vulnerable group whose needs should be included at all stages of recovery and reconstruction efforts.
This article is adapted from: https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/
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, Md Syafawie Md Amin, 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
GETTING TO KNOW
EL NIÑO & LA NIÑA
El Niño and La Niña are complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. As we begin the latest La Niña phase, we can take a little time to learn about their history and what they really mean for our current weather and climate.
El Niño means the Little Boy – or Christ’s Child – in the Spanish language. It was originally recognised by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s, and was formed by the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean for a certain time of the year. The name was chosen based on this time of year (which was around December), during which these warm water events tended to occur more often.
In modern times, the term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction that is linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific region. Typical El Niño effects usually develop over the Northern America continent during the winter season, and is signified by warmer-than-average temperatures over western and central Canada, as well as over the western and northern United States. Wetter-than-average conditions are likely over portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast and Florida, while drier-than-average conditions are found in the Ohio Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The presence of El Niño can significantly influence weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries across large portions of the earth for an extended period of time, and have significant causal effects on other weather-related events.
La Niña, on the other hand, is Spanish for the Little Girl. La Niña is also sometimes known locally as El Viejo, anti-El Niño, or ‘a cold event’. Simply put, it forms the opposite conditions to the El Niño event.
La Niña episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific. La Niña impacts on the global climate tend to be opposite those caused by El Niño, and in the tropics, ocean temperature variations in La Niña also tend to be on the opposite end to the weather patterns attributed to El Niño. In general, during a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than usual in the southeast of the Northern American continent, and cooler than normal in the northwest.
DURING THE PANDEMIC
The current pandemic leaves disaster managers with new and unique challenges in preparing for – and responding to – natural disasters that may take place. With restrictions on human interaction and movement due to significant health challenges, the occurrence of a natural disaster could force large numbers of people into close proximity, with the potential to add to the disaster impact through spread of the highly contagious virus. To overcome this, planning and guidelines are required to be developed in short turnaround, and risks such as tsunami disasters require specific consideration.
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO), in consultation and collaboration with expert working groups within Intergovernmental Coordination Groups (ICGs), has released regional guidelines for tsunami warning services, evacuation and sheltering during the COVID-19 pandemic. The four regional guidelines (for the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, and the North-eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean) include details of regional tsunami services, that can be used by national authorities responsible for the organisation of tsunami warning and emergency response to develop their own nationally-coordinated guidelines.
These guidelines are also supported by a special national version for Indonesia, particularly due to the nation’s recent history of large tsunami events. For some Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Viet Nam, the Pacific Ocean regional guidelines will provide relevant information. Meanwhile, Thailand and Myanmar can refer to the Indian Ocean regional guidelines. Additionally, these guidelines can also be applied to other coastal hazards such as storm surges and flash flooding.
When the National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC) and/or a National Disaster Management Organisation (NDMO) issues a tsunami warning, the desired action for the public is to follow the advice of the authorities, including evacuation from identified at-risk locations as required. It is important to highlight that human life is the priority when tsunami evacuations are required, regardless of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and physical distancing protocol. Of course, in a state of evacuation such protocols may not be practical. Regardless, handling any resultant COVID-19 infections must be done immediately following an evacuation, to minimise the risk or large-scale infection. Communities must also be aware of COVID-19 safety protocols and any requirement for physical distancing when sheltering at an evacuation site. In addition, a personal or family emergency backpack should be augmented with disposable tissues, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes, and possibly face masks, in consideration of the heightened sanitation and hygiene requirements due to the COVID-19 virus.
Written by : Shahasrakiranna | Source : Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission