INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 2021:
CELEBRATING WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
As part of 2021’s International Women’s Day and the month of celebrations that followed, the AHA Centre was engaged in an array of events and discussions promoting and highlighting women’s roles in disaster management and leadership. AHA Centre staff participated through online platforms, and the Centre’s Executive Director Ms Adelina Kamal was a keynote speaker for a number of these interesting events.
A key event was the virtual discussion held by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), Women’s International Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (WIN DRR), UN Women and UNDRR’s Regional Office for Asia and Pacific. It engaged some of the Asia-Pacific region’s leading women in disaster management, and saw an array of diverse and inspiring women leaders sharing insights and concerns related to women’s role in disaster and the wider community – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ms Mami Mizutori, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, probed key areas of governance and participatory strategies by highlighting the need to ask government “Have you included woman in the making of strategies? Are women part of the decision-making and part of the implementation of these strategies?”. “If the answers are no” she continued, “then we need to strongly urge governments to involve women to get their feedback on the strategies”.
Ms Marian Grace L. Ticzon, a Youth Advocate from the National Rural Women Coalition in the Philippines, also brought some fresh and different insights to the discussion, speaking about some of the key issues faced by rural women and youth. “First are the pre-existing issues faced by most rural women and young women, in particular a lack of access to resources and basic services. Infrastructure and access to health services are barriers, as many live in remote areas and have difficulties accessing transport to health centres and services.” “Second is a lack of access to information” Ms Ticzon continued, “as many rural women don’t have an internet connection, particularly if they live in a remote area”.
AHA Centre Executive Director Ms Adelina Kamal spoke about leadership during crisis – among other important topics – and called on women to engage from early on to lead and support their communities.
“Leadership is tested during crisis, but leadership can also be moulded during crisis. It takes a skilled swordsmith and the hottest fire to forge a sword. The swordsmith can be our teacher or mentor that provides us with the great opportunity to learn, and the fire is the crisis that will make us versatile in future battle”.
– Adelina Kamal
Other key speakers also shared their insights on women’s leadership during the pandemic, including presentations from Ms Bandana Rana (UN CEDAW Community), Ms Emeline Siale Ilolahia (Executive Director of PIANGO), and Ms Michelle Chivunga N, (Founder/CEO Global Policy House). The discussion was moderated by Ms Elizabeth Puranam from Aljazeera, and set the tone to further advance the movement of women leaders within the disaster management sector, and under the pandemic context in general.
Another key event during the last month was the “Women Leaders in Building Disaster Resilience” held on March 31 by ARISE Philippines – a local subsidiary of ARISE (the Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies) – who is a UNDRR-led network of private sector entities committed to support and implement the Sendai Framework and other key development policies. The event was implemented to recognise the important role of women participation and leadership in disaster risk reduction and resilience. Finally, another event that engaged Ms Kamal as a speaker was held by Asashi Shimbun, a newspaper from Japan, called Think Gender. Ms Kamal spoke to to inspire women, especially in Japan, to become leaders across an array of sectors and contexts.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit: AHA Centre.
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).
FOR THAILAND’S RESPONSE TO NEW OUTBREAK OF COVID-19
In collaboration with Thailand’s Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM), the AHA Centre mobilised relief items as a response to the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in Samut Sakhon Province, Thailand. There are currently more than 4,000 people under quarantine, most of whom are immigrant fisheries workers arriving from neighbouring ASEAN nations.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, explained that the mobilisation of relief items aims to augment Thailand government’s ongoing efforts to respond to COVID-19 outbreak in the province. “The ASEAN relief items are mobilised to support the operation of field hospitals that are now being set-up by the Government of Thailand. This mobilisation of support further showcases the solidarity of the ASEAN countries during this challenging situation”, Ms Kamal stated.
Supported by the Government of Japan through Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), the relief items comprising of 2,100 personal hygiene kits and 50 family tents, were mobilised from the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) Satellite Warehouse in Chainat, Thailand. As of 31 January 2021, four batches of items have been mobilised to two provinces, as well as directly to the Ministry of Public Health, Thailand.
The first batch (500 personal hygiene kits – PHK) was delivered to Nonthaburi Province on 4 January 2021, and the second batch comprising of 1,000 PHK were mobilised to Samut Sakhon Province on January 8. A total of 50 family tents were also delivered to the Ministry of Public Health as part of the third batch of items on 11 January. The last mobilisation was on January 30, and was made-up of 600 PHK that were sent to Nonthaburi Province. The remaining relief items will be mobilised by the DDPM after finalising the delivery schedule.
It is not the first time that the AHA Centre has mobilised ASEAN relief items to support ongoing operations responding to the impact of COVID-19. During the May to August 2020 period, the AHA Centre mobilised DELSA relief items from all three DELSA stockpiles located in Subang, Malaysia; Chainat, Thailand; and Quezon City, the Philippines. Five thousands PHK were mobilised from DELSA satellite warehouse in Quezon City, the Philippines, and sent to local government quarantine sites across the country as well as one mobile storage unit (MSU) was mobilised to the Department of Health for storing the medical equipment located in Manila. One Mobile Storage Unit and one pre-fabricated office were mobilised from the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia to support the coordination and management operations of a field hospital in Selangor. Also, one Mobile Storage Unit and 2,900 PHK were released from both the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang and the DELSA satellite warehouse in Chainat to support the pandemic response in Cambodia.
Such mobilisations of DELSA relief items to support COVID-19 – including the recent activity to support Thailand’s response – is based on the collective decision of the ASEAN Member States during the AHA Centre’s Governing Board Special Meeting in May 2020. It aims to provide specific support through relief items from the three DELSA locations as an interim measure to cover operational gaps in the pandemic responses of ASEAN nations.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : DDPM Thailand
Vol 68 – ASEAN-HELP-ASEAN: DISTRIBUTING TEMASEK FOUNDATION’S REUSABLE FACE MASKS TO SUPPORT ASEAN COMBATTING COVID-19
DISTRIBUTING TEMASEK FOUNDATION’S REUSABLE FACE MASKS TO SUPPORT ASEAN COMBATTING COVID-19
Singapore’s Temasek Foundation recently donated 1.5 million reusable face masks to the AHA Centre to be distributed to the communities in ASEAN Member States, as well as Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and other ASEAN centres and entities who are based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The donation aims to support the ongoing COVID-19 response in the region by ensuring people can continue their lives as safely as possible under current health protocols. The face masks have been distributed by the AHA Centre to ASEAN Member States through the National Disaster Management Organisations, as well as directly to other Jakarta-based stakeholders since December 2020.
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. “This cooperation between Temasek Foundation and AHA Centre reflects our commitment to fight hand-in-hand against the pandemic in the region,” she stated.
The overall donation by Temasek Foundation is comprised of 750,000 packs of reusable face masks, which include two reusable face masks in each pack, making the total donation of reusable masks reach 1.5 million. The packages were provided to the AHA Centre through Temasek Foundation’s supplier located in Tangerang, Indonesia, and continued to be distributed to all ASEAN stakeholders who accepted the offer through the AHA Centre.
This partnership effort also provided a significant opportunity for the AHA Centre, Temasek Foundation and other ASEAN bodies to further engage with local, grass-roots organisations to deliver the facemasks to communities. Examples were highlighted in Jakarta as the ASEAN Foundation worked alongside local non-profits – such as Diberi untuk Memberi (Given to Give) – to distribute masks to street food sellers, local medical centres and the general public throughout the island of Java. Such partnerships that span from regional to local level serve to represent the true unity in the region’s fight against the pandemic, as well as strengthen and develop networks between the engaging organisations.
This is not the first time that the AHA Centre and Temasek Foundation have worked side-by-side on humanitarian issues in the region. In late 2018 the two organisations worked together on disaster response efforts in Central Sulawesi, with Temasek Foundation providing direct material support for communities affected by the earthquake and tsunami – support that was facilitated and distributed through the AHA Centre’s broad network of responders in the field.
“We are grateful to Temasek Foundation for the support to the AHA Centre and the region. We hope to continue strengthening the partnership and good cooperation between the two organisations in the future,”
– Adelina Kamal
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : Diberi untuk Memberi and AHA Centre
AHA CENTRE SUPPORTS
AHA CENTRE SUPPORTS TYPHOON-AFFECTED AREAS OF THE PHILIPPINES
During November 2020, within a short span of just a few weeks, communities across the Philippines have experienced extreme weather disturbances, including Tropical Storm SAUDEL, Typhoon MOLAVE, Tropical Storm ATSANI and Tropical Storm ETAU. The two strongest typhoons to strike the nation were Super Typhoon GONI (or locally known as ROLLY), and Typhoon VAMCO (or ULYSSES). In response to the impact of Super Typhoon GONI – that made landfall in the Philippines on 1 November 2020 – as well as the ongoing impacts of the other storms and typhoons, the AHA Centre was engaged to support the Government of the Philippines to respond to the people’s needs in the days and weeks that followed.
The AHA Centre released a large number of relief items stockpiled at the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) Satellite Warehouse in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, the Philippines, to strengthen the government’s ongoing efforts to support typhoon-affected communities. Facilitated by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) of the Philippines, the first batch of ASEAN relief items were transported by the Navy on 15 November from the Port of Manila to the Bicol Region – which was the region most affected by Super Typhoon GONI. A second batch of relief items was transported to Marinduque Province on 30 November.
The ASEAN relief items, valued at almost USD900,000, included 2,946 rolls of tarpaulins, 100 shelter repair kits, 1,000 kitchen sets, 5,000 mosquito nets, 5,700 family kits, 5,010 jerry cans, 74 outdoor family tents, and also 1,000 indoor family tents that can be used by affected families inside evacuation centres. This response was the AHA Centre’s biggest response to disaster to date in 2020. It also evidenced the value of the DELSA Satellite Warehouse system – developed in 2019 and co-managed by the AHA Centre and the Philippines OCD – supporting the overall speed and accuracy of disaster response for the ASEAN region.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, stated that the mobilisation of ASEAN relief items – supported by Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) and Direct Relief – represents the tangible solidarity of ASEAN and the spirit of ‘One ASEAN, One Response’. “The AHA Centre has been monitoring the disaster situation in the Philippines since October 2020 when several weather disturbances were first identified”, Ms Kamal explained, adding that “when we gathered and received information about the potential impacts caused by these extreme weather disturbances, our Emergency Operations Centre was activated, and this included working closely with our counterpart at the OCD of NDRRMC in the Philippines, as well as other ASEAN countries and partners for potential regional support”.
To provide situational awareness and common operating information on the effects of extreme weather disturbances, including Super Typhoon GONI, the AHA Centre also organised an executive briefing on 4 November 2020. The event was attended by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, ASEAN Member State representatives, diplomatic missions, defence attachés, and humanitarian partners from across the region. The Philippines OCD Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad provided a briefing on the latest situation from the affected provinces, as well as an update on impacts that the super typhoon was having on communities and infrastructure.
“The Philippines has been tested by multiple tropical cyclones, floods and other weather disturbances, within a span of only a few weeks. Our hearts and prayers are with the typhoon-affected communities, and we believe that the Filipino spirit is stronger than any typhoon,”
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre and NDRRMC – OCD of the Philippines
Vol 66 – TROPICAL STORMS LINFA AND NANGKA: THE AHA CENTRE’S FIRST DISASTER RESPONSE AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
TROPICAL STORMS LINFA AND NANGKA:
THE AHA CENTRE’S FIRST DISASTER RESPONSE AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
Significant weather activity during the middle of October, 2020, saw the AHA Centre mobilised ASEAN relief items in response to Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA that struck Viet Nam. Supported through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), the relief items were airlifted from the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia, with the assistance of the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD). The items included 1,300 kitchen sets and 1,000 shelter repair kits, and reached Da Nang International Airport, Viet Nam in the evening of the 20th of October.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, stated that the AHA Centre worked closely with the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – Viet Nam Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, to monitor the impact of Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA. “We also intensified our disaster monitoring efforts from early October, after identifying the formation of the tropical storms,” Ms Kamal explained.
According to Ms Kamal, the relief items represent the tangible assistance and solidarity of the ASEAN nations, under the spirit of ‘One ASEAN, One Response’. This was also the AHA Centre’s first natural disaster response amidst the COVID-19 pandemic context, which meant that most preparations, including at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), were conducted remotely.
The disaster response effort within the pandemic context created a range of other new challenges for the AHA Centre team. Engaging partners and all other response stakeholders within a remote environment was a primary focus of the AHA Centre, as it worked out new and innovative ways to ensure its primary role was fulfilled regardless of the limitations caused by the situation. On 15 October, the AHA Centre organised an online Executive Briefing for all ASEAN Member States, diplomatic missions and humanitarian partners, together with the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority. This gathering worked to provide situational awareness and a common operating overview of the impacts resulting from Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA in the ASEAN region. The briefing was attended by over 40 invitees, including the Secretary-General of ASEAN H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi and the Deputy Director-General of the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA) Mr. Nguyen Van Tien. Both these key stakeholders also provided strong and clear input during the Executive Briefing.
The widespread floods caused by Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA not only affected multiple provinces through central Viet Nam, but also impacted other areas in Cambodia and Lao PDR. More than 800,000 people in Viet Nam were affected by the storms, with more than 66,500 people evacuated. The AHA Centre remained on stand-by to support and coordinate with the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority, as well as continue to monitor the situation in Viet Nam and other ASEAN countries. “We do hope that the relief items will lighten up the spirit of the communities affected by the storms in central Viet Nam,” Ms Kamal added.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : VNDMA for AHA Centre
Vol 65 – ASEAN LAUNCHES PROJECT ON STANDARDISATION AND CERTIFICATION FOR EXPERTS IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
IN PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE:
ASEAN LAUNCHES PROJECT ON STANDARDISATION AND CERTIFICATION FOR EXPERTS IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
The ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND) Project was developed from the challenge faced by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) of ASEAN Member States and the AHA Centre when responding on the ground to a large-scale disaster. In these circumstances, humanitarian actors engage from many different organisations, institutions, private companies, as well as individuals, to provide various kinds of support to those affected. While these stakeholders often hold the capacity to respond, there remained a challenge in identifying and validating their specific skills for coordination purposes.
On the 22nd September 2020, the ASCEND Project was officially launched through a joint launching ceremony, opened by the Secretary-General of ASEAN H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to ASEAN H.E. Lim Sungnam, and the AHA Centre’s Executive Director, Ms Adelina Kamal. Many ASEAN disaster management community stakeholders attended the ASCEND launching event, as well as representatives from AHA Centre donors and partners.
The ASCEND programme was developed to validate, and thus provide recognition, to specific skills and competencies held by individuals working in the disaster management sector. This certification will help the AHA Centre and ASEAN Member States to determine the skills and expertise available for both deploying or receiving support teams at times of disaster. Alongside this, competency standards can also serve as a credible reference to guide disaster management institutions and organisations when they are developing their own specific training programmes. For individuals, this certification will support their continuous learning and career progression within the disaster management sector.
From 2016-2019, led by the National Disaster Management Agency of Indonesia (BNPB) through its Competency Certification Office (LSP-PB), the first phase of the ASCEND Project developed a foundation for future efforts through the endorsement of the ASCEND Framework by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management. As well as the ASCEND Framework’s endorsement, the standard competencies for the first five disaster management professions were identified and provided. These professions are: Rapid Assessment; Humanitarian Logistics; Shelter Management; Emergency Operations Centre, and; Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.
After the completion of ASCEND phase one in early 2020, the AHA Centre received confirmation of generous support from the Republic of Korea through the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF). This support will allow for the ASCEND development to continue for the next three years. In implementing the ASCEND project, the AHA Centre will also collaborate with the Korean National Fire Agency (KNFA), where both parties will benefit through the exchange of knowledge and expertise, and activities including conducting a joint event.
The three years of ASCEND Project phase two implementation is aimed towards institutional and technical preparation. For institutions, the project will prepare relevant institutions that will implement the ASCEND certification process, including a Competency Body, Certifying Body and Assessment Providers. For the technical side, the project will prepare technical tools such as an ASCEND toolbox, training and certification management systems necessary to guide and document the certification process. Following the institutional and technical preparation, the project will conduct a certification assessment pilot for the first five professions, while continuing to promote and increase awareness of ASCEND throughout ASEAN target groups. This pilot activity will provide feedback for learning and iterative improvements before the ASCEND Programme is scaled-up.
This forms an exciting journey for the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Member States to ensure this initiative further contributes to the realisation of ASEAN’s goal to become a global leader in disaster management by 2025, as articulated in the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management. The AHA Centre, through the ASCEND Project, looks forward to working closely with the Republic of Korea, NDMOs, the ASEAN community, and AHA Centre partners, in enhancing regional resilience with more competent disaster management experts available in the region.
Written by : Andrew Mandranugraha / Ririn Dwi Haryani | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
12th GB MEETING:
DISCUSSING THE OF THE AHA CENTRE FUTURE DIRECTION
Held two times each year, this instalment of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre was originally slated to be held during April 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 12th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre was re-scheduled into August 2020, and engaged the 10 National Disaster Management Organisations from ASEAN Member States to meet in an online environment.
With the situation meaning that the Philippines hosting a physical face-to-face meeting was no longer possible, the Governing Board agreed to implement it in an online fashion, making this the first time this key event has been undertaken online. The meeting was held back-to-back along with the 36th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), and the 13th Meeting of the Joint Task Force (JTF) to Promote Synergy with Other Relevant ASEAN Bodies on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). These events all took place from the 11 – 12 August 2020, with the 12th Meeting of the Governing Board taking place in the afternoon of August 12.
Similar to regular meetings of the Governing Board, the AHA Centre usually uses the forum to update the Governing Board of its activities spanning the period from the last such meeting, which in this case took place in October 2019. This year’s meeting was quite unique, not only because of the pandemic context, but also as 2020 forms the end of the AHA Centre’s 5-year work plan. The AHA Centre used this momentum to continue discussions on rethinking the vision and mission of the AHA Centre for the coming five years and beyond. The timing of the meeting was also in-sync with the Governing Board members (in their role as the ACDM) developing a new cycle of the AADMER Work Programme for 2021-2025.
In addition to discussions on rethinking the AHA Centre’s vision and mission, the meeting was also utilised to launch three key AHA Centre publications. The first was the AHA Centre Annual Report 2019, that focused on the theme of ‘Unfolding Future’, with the report highlighting the focus of the AHA Centre in 2019 towards continuing its expansion and development for the future. The second publication was the After-Action Review of the AHA Centre emergency response operations in 2018 – a year in which the AHA Centre responded to 7 back-to-back disaster events. Finally, the AHA Centre launched the second edition of the ASEAN Risk Monitor and Disaster Management Review (ARMOR), that focuses on the theme of Climate Emergencies. Named “Time is Running Out: Why ASEAN Must Act Now against Climate Emergencies”, the journal uses both historical data and the most up-to-date information, trends, and risk profiles of the ASEAN countries with regards to climate change and disasters.
The 12th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre was officially closed by Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, the Administrator of the Office of Civil Defense of the Philippines, who was serving as the Chairperson of the Governing Board. The 13th Meeting of the Governing is scheduled to be held at the end of November 2020, and will be most likely be once again held in an online environment.
Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
REFLECTION FROM THE AHA CENTRE MID-TERM REVIEW:
ADJUSTING TO THE NEW NORMAL
The AHA Centre has been implementing working from home arrangements since March 2020, in order to ensure the safety and well-being of its staff during the global pandemic. Adapting to these new working arrangements has been challenging, especially due to the collaborative nature of the AHA Centre’s work. Facilitating collaboration without having direct physical interaction can be tricky, but the AHA Centre has determined to adapt to this new working environment. As an organisation specialising in disaster management and emergency response, the AHA Centre understands that while contexts such as this bring significant upheaval, they also present opportunities to revise and improve.
During the second week of July 2020 the AHA Centre undertook its Mid-Term Review (MTR) workshop. This is an annual activity in which the AHA Centre seeks to assess the progress made towards achieving planned objectives in comparison to its annual work plan. This year’s MTR, however, would be very different from the previous years, as this was the first time that the MTR was conducted fully online.
The event was delivered to 42 participants through numerous sessions across five days. It included briefings on the organisation’s work, group sessions to review the work plan for the upcoming term, as well as sessions to provide strategy and direction for programme continuity within the pandemic and ‘new normal’ contexts. There was no shortage of challenges in implementing this year’s MTR, including the logistical challenge to identify the right platform to support collaboration among all AHA Centre staff. In order to facilitate this collaboration, the AHA Centre made use a number of online collaborative tools including MIRO and Wooclap.
Another key challenge was maintaining staff enthusiasm and spirit for the entire duration of the workshop. The online environment has a number of limitations, in particular limitations on communicating and exchanging ideas and information freely. A lack of non-verbal communication can be tiring, and when people are tired enthusiasm can decline. Therefore, in order to maintain staff energy levels to achieve all workshop objectives, the AHA Centre spread out the event across five days instead of the usual three. The team also explored a number of energising and ice-breaking activities suitable for the online environment, and they proved successful in maintain staff engagement and interest.
By the end of the week the AHA Centre successfully achieved all of the MTR workshop objectives. Beyond this, the activity also gave the team an opportunity to continue adapting to the new normal.
Written by : Merry Rismayani & Dipo Summa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
OPENS PROJECT OFFICE IN MYANMAR
Developing capacities at national level in an ongoing, face-to-face format ensures intensive and targeted capacity development of disaster management actors in ASEAN Member States – an outcome that forms the central reasoning of the new AHA Centre project office in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Working alongside Myanmar’s Department of Disaster Management (its National Disaster Management Organisation – NDMO), the AHA Centre and the Government of Myanmar aim to strengthen the nation’s disaster management sector through this pilot project, that will also stand as evidence for replication in other nations in the years to come.
Identifying comprehensive and durable solutions that address the situation in Rakhine, Myanmar formed a key need highlighted by the ASEAN Leaders during the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore, November 2018. Within this discussion arose the importance of creating a conducive environment for affected communities to rebuild their lives. During the Summit, all ASEAN Leaders also expressed continued support for Myanmar in its effort to bring peace, stability, the rule of law, to promote harmony and reconciliation among various communities, as well to ensure sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State.
As part of this ongoing effort, ASEAN Leaders also affirmed their readiness to support Myanmar in the process of repatriating displaced communities, and welcomed the invitation from Myanmar to the AHA Centre to engage a needs assessment team to the region, in an effort to identify possible areas of cooperation to facilitate the repatriation process in Rakhine State. As a result, the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) was deployed to Myanmar to conduct a preliminary need assessment (PNA) for repatriation during March 2019. A key finding from the PNA was the opportunity to enhance the readiness of Myanmar Government’s local capacity to provide humanitarian assistance as part of the repatriation process. Based on this outcome, a project was approved for implementation in Myanmar, through the ongoing support of the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).
This pioneer project, entitled “Enhancing the Readiness of Myanmar Government Local Capacity in Providing Humanitarian Assistance to Support the Repatriation Process“, aims to develop localised tools and methodologies that can then serve as a reference and model for future local capacity building programmes across other ASEAN Member States. More formally, the project has three key goals that are:
Therefore, a project management team has been recruited in Myanmar, and have begun their work alongside the Department of Disaster Management in Nay Pyi Taw. The team is currently made-up of a National Project Manager, a National Training Officer, and a Finance & Administration Officer, who will implement the project’s activities and strategy with support from the AHA Centre team based in Jakarta, as well as guidance from the Government of Myanmar and the other 9 ASEAN Member States.
Written by : Aye Theint Thu | Photo Credit : AHA Centre