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
MOBILISING DELSA RELIEF ITEMS
FOR COVID-19 RESPONSE
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge ASEAN Member States, and the disaster management sector re-positions itself to determine where it can support ASEAN communities through the region’s current response and support mechanisms. The Governing Board of the AHA Centre held an online Special Meeting on May 15th, 2020, working through a range of options and ideas with AHA Centre management for a regional response and support to the pandemic situation.
The decision of the Special Meeting provides a number of specific Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) relief support items that can be accessed by ASEAN Member States (AMS) during the pandemic, to be requested by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) as an interim measure to fill operational gaps in their responses. The relief items made available as a result of this decision are Mobile Storage Units (MSU), Hygiene Kits and Prefabricated Offices (with AC) – that are kept in the DELSA stockpile and ready for deployment. Since this announcement, the support has been utilised by NDMOs from the Philippines, Malaysia and Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the AHA Centre – in collaboration with the Office of Civil Defence of the Philippines – has been providing support to the ongoing operations responding to the impact of COVID-19 in the Philippines. Efforts were undertaken from March until May, with teams working out of the new DELSA satellite warehouse at Camp General Aguinaldo, Quezon City. As part of the partnership, the AHA Centre has provided the warehouse space, as well as equipment such as forklifts to support the overall logistical operations. The AHA Centre also provided support with the delivery of a Mobile Storage Unit, that was procured with support from another AHA Centre partner – Direct Relief. The Mobile Storage Unit is currently located at the Supply Unit – Logistics Command, at Camp General Aguinaldo, and is being utilised by the Philippine’s Department of Health to store personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
The AHA Centre has also released 5,000 personal hygiene kits to the Philippines, procured with the support from Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). One thousand of these hygiene kits have been mobilised to Legazpi City in Alabay, and 4,000 hygiene kits to Tacloban City in Leyte, to be distributed to different local government quarantine sites to support their COVID-19 response. On May 29 2020, the AHA Centre worked to support Malaysia’s NDMO (NADMA – Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara), providing one Mobile Storage Unit and one pre-fabricated office to support ongoing response work. The items were mobilised from the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia, and have been sent to Selangor, Malaysia, to support the coordination and management operations of a field hospital in the region. These relief items were also provided through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF). As of early June, 2,900 Hygiene Kits and another Mobile Storage Unit were also set to be released from a DELSA satellite warehouse to support the pandemic response in Cambodia.
Written by : Ina Rachmawati | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
ASEAN VILLAGE – NEW HOMES
FOR TSUNAMI SURVIVORS IN PALU
The October 2018 earthquake and tsunami disaster in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, stands as one of the largest disaster responses undertaken by the AHA Centre in its history, and while the initial shock of the disaster has dissipated, work to rebuild the region’s infrastructure and communities has continued throughout 2019 and into 2020. Aside from the initial disaster response, this also forms the AHA Centre’s first foray into ongoing recovery activities, with the development of the ASEAN Village standing as the region’s input into the longer-term efforts to support the people of Palu City and its surrounds.
During April 2020, the AHA Centre in its role facilitating the ongoing support from ASEAN Member States, coordinated the official handover of the ASEAN Village to the Government of Palu City. Although it was undertaken online due to the limitations caused by the global pandemic, the handover maintained its true value for all involved, as the Mayor of Palu City Mr. Drs. Hidayat, other key government officials, an array of ASEAN dignitaries and other key programme representatives came together for the handover of outcomes from the new and innovative project.
Recounting the implementation of the project in her opening speech, the AHA Centre’s Executive Director Ms. Adelina Kamal said “In the early recovery period, we submitted a proposal to BNPB for the construction of temporary shelters, with funds received from the Philippine Government and from the people of Brunei Darussalam. With operational funds from Australia, we formed a team in the field, full time, to follow through the mandate and maintain the trust given by the Government of the Philippines and the people of Brunei, and to coordinate closely with the local government”.
Overall, the ASEAN Village project developed and delivered 75 new homes to the affected communities in the Tondo area of Palu City. Thanks to the generous support of the Government of Brunei Darussalam and Direct Relief, another 25 dwellings and additional structures, such as an auxiliary health centre and a mosque, will be developed in the coming months. The project was implemented in partnership with the Housing and Settlement Department of the Palu Government, and utilised USD 723,647 to develop the homes across a 22,600sqm area. The project implementation also received additional support from the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Australia.
Funds from the Brunei Darussalam Government were a result of crowd-sourcing directly from the people of Brunei Darussalam, which forms the ﬁrst time ASEAN citizens directly providing funding to an AHA Centre project. Meanwhile, the Philippines provided support as part of its solidarity to the tsunami survivors in Palu, even the country was still recovering from its own disaster, Typhoon Mangkhut, which struck the country in September 2018.
“On behalf of the Government of Palu City, we confirm that the 75 houses are well received. We hope that these permanent houses handed over by the AHA Centre will bring happiness and improve the welfare of the tsunami-affected people of Palu City.”
– Mr Hidayat, The Mayor of Palu
“For the first time, the AHA Centre got involved in the recovery phase, not only during emergency response phase. We plan to properly document these experiences at the end of our project in Palu. We also hope that the ASEAN Village in Palu can serve as a model and can be done in other ASEAN Member States.”
– Ms. Adelina Kamal
Written by : William Shea | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE AHA CENTRE:
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on everyone. By the end of March 2020, the number of global cases has reached more than 50,000 per day. In Southeast Asia, although the case numbers remain relatively low, many countries have taken precautionary measures, such as limiting travel from countries that are heavily affected by the outbreak.
The AHA Centre has also been heavily affected by the pandemic, although fortunately no staff has been infected by the virus so far. However, as a regional organisation, many of the AHA Centre’s activities include travel and engagements across the region. Therefore, travel restrictions have caused the Centre to postpone or cancel some programmes and events that has been planned. Some activities being postponed for 2020 include batch 7 of the ACE Programme, ASEAN-ERAT trainings, and the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX).
Alongside this, the Government of Indonesia (the host of the AHA Centre’s office) implemented social distancing measures on March 15th, as part of the efforts to contain the spread of the virus. These included requests for all businesses and organisations to implement work-from-home conditions, to which the AHA Centre responded immediately by initiating work-from-home arrangements to ensure the health and well-being of staff and the wider community.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
The AHA Centre faces a significant challenge in adapting to this ‘new normal’. This includes significant re-alignment in working approaches as staff switch from office-based to home-based environments. As an organisation that is very reliant to collaboration among staff as well as with ASEAN Member States and partners, the challenge lies in finding the best online working method that accommodates the collaborative nature of the work.
There are, however, two sides to any disaster, even in situations such as the pandemic. The Centre has identified an opportunity to realise a long-standing vision of becoming a smart office that utilises various collaborative technological tools. Part of this vision is to apply near-to-zero waste and minimal utilisation no papers. However, the pandemic situation has forced the AHA Centre to make these necessary changes, as part of its overall adaptation to the new normal.
Adjustments have also included the utilisation of video conferencing tools for meetings, as well as other tools to facilitate sharing and collaboration. Additionally, the AHA Centre has also moved all of its administrative, financial and human resource processes fully online.
Some challenges still remain of course, including the reality that nothing can fully replace direct face-to-face interaction. However, the Centre aims to remain productive, while at the same time protecting staff’s health and well-being. While we hope for the end of the pandemic situation, we also appreciate that some of these changes and adjustments will continue, and that will be for the benefit of our work in the future.
Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
Vol 58 – THE AHA CENTRE AND EUROPEAN UNION ANNOUNCE SUPPORT FOR IN ASEAN HUMANITARIAN AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN ASEAN
THE AHA CENTRE AND EUROPEAN UNION ANNOUNCE SUPPORT FOR
HUMANITARIAN AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE IN ASEAN
To support ASEAN endeavours to enhance disaster response capacity, in 2020 the European Union (EU) and the AHA Centre launched a EUR 10 million programme supporting the AHA Centre’s work, named the “Integrated Programme in Enhancing the Capacity of AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanisms”, or in short known as the EU-SAHA programme. This new initiative aims to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of the AHA Centre to achieve operational excellence in disaster monitoring and emergency response, as well as enhance mechanisms for ASEAN leadership to ‘respond as one’ through excellence and innovation in disaster management.
In the wake of the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia, the AHA Centre was among the first humanitarian agencies that arrived on the ground to provide humanitarian assistance. The AHA Centre highlighted its unwavering commitment in assisting ASEAN Member States (AMS), and again proved instrumental in assisting the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) in coordinating humanitarian aid by utilising available ASEAN mechanisms. The project is expected to also leverage the expertise of the EU’s Emergency Response Coordination Center (ERCC), which operates under the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism and has a similar scope of work in the EU as the AHA Center does in ASEAN.
The Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Ms Adelina Kamal, expressed her appreciation for the launch of the programme. “The EU SAHA programme will enable the AHA Centre to strengthen the entire spectrum of the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response, adopted by the ASEAN Leaders in September 2016. It will enable the AHA Centre to further enhance our capacity to facilitate ASEAN’s collective response to large-scale disasters inside the region, maximising further our coordination potentials as shown in multiple responses in 2018. Not only that, the EU SAHA will also allow us to study what it takes to facilitate collective response outside the region and learn from the EU, who has done it, through comparative studies and knowledge exchange”.
The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, recognised EU’s support, stating that “As an important partner of ASEAN, the European Union’s contribution to the AHA Centre will play a pivotal role in advancing ASEAN closer towards realising its vision as a global leader in disaster management. By supporting ASEAN’s hallmark emergency response mechanism, the European Union ensures the continued development of disaster management assets and capacities at the regional and national levels in the ASEAN region”.
It is the AHA Centre’s hope that through this new programme, the ASEAN region will become more resilient and more proactive in disaster mitigation and prevention. Much has been achieved to this point, but efforts must be sustained to realise the outcomes of the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management. The ASEAN region is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, having experienced more than 50% of overall global disaster mortalities during the period of 2004-2014. The aim of the new EU programme is to substantially reduce disaster losses in lives and in the economic, social, physical and environmental assets of ASEAN Member States. It also aims to support joint responses to disaster emergencies through concerted national efforts, and intensified regional and international cooperation.
Speaking after signing of the agreement at the ASEAN Secretariat on January 27, the EU Ambassador to ASEAN, Igor Driesmans, stated that no countries should overlook the importance of concerted and coordinated disaster response. He highlighted that the regional approach to dealing with disaster has provided ASEAN greater strength to handle unprecedented calamities, as it can utilise regional pool of Member States’ expertise and assets – managed by the AHA Centre. The Ambassador said that this is not only a workable model, but also a mechanism to deal with the transboundary nature of the climate-induced disaster. This requires strong collaboration and partnership among Member States, similar to European nations under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EU-CPM), which is shepherded by their Emergency Response Coordinating Centre (ERCC), an entity displaying the same value and design as the AHA Centre.
Written by : Ina Rachmawati and Dipo Summa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
8th ANNIVERSARY OF THE AHA CENTRE – RETHINKING OUR PATH
To celebrate the eight-year journey since the establishment of the AHA Centre, the Strategic Thematic Forum – Rethinking AHA Centre was undertaken from 18-22 of November 2019 in Jakarta, Indonesia. A forum for reflecting on successes and mapping the path forward, event also included the Workshop on Management of International Assistance, and the Partners Dialogue – Celebrating Partnership.
The Strategic Thematic Forum – Rethinking AHA Centre (held on 18-19 November, 2019) was opened by H.E. Michael Tene, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs, who reminded us that when thinking ahead, we must also align with ASEAN’s broader vision. During this exercise, regional and global technical experts in the fields of conflict, Disaster Risk Reduction and pandemics, along with representatives from ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre, were brought together for technical discussions aimed at providing insight and assessing the feasibility of engaging in new disaster management elements beyond the AHA Centre’s existing scope of natural disasters. The forum included over 60 participants, with representatives coming from National Disaster Management Organisations and Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the ASEAN Secretariat, subject matter experts and panellists, AHA Centre staff, and other facilitators and observers. The forum actively promoted discussion through both group work and panel discussions, encouraging sharing of open opinions in all discussion areas. The Strategic Thematic Forum was supported by UK Mission to ASEAN.
WORKSHOP ON MANAGEMENT OF INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE
Day three of the event began with the Workshop on Management of International Assistance, which was co- organised by the AHA Centre and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Asia Pacific, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The workshop’s aim was to strengthen the coordination of regional and international assistance during humanitarian emergency response, including methodologies, procedures and tools. It also aims to improve preparedness capacity of ASEAN Member States, by identifying areas of improvements in the management of incoming regional and international assistance during emergency response, and to improve the capacity of the AHA Centre as the primary regional coordinating agency in managing offers of regional and international assistance for affected Member States during emergency response.
The workshop was conducted throughout two days from 20 to 21 November 2019, with participants from National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) of the ASEAN Member States, IFRC and representatives from National Societies in Southeast Asia, the AHA Centre and other key stakeholders. The workshop was officially opened by the AHA Centre’s Executive Director Ms Adelina Kamal, Head of IFRC Country Office in Myanmar, Mr Joy Singhal, Mr Ky Anh Nguyen, ASEAN Secretariat Director of Sustainable Development, and Mr Michael Cottier, Deputy Head of Mission Embassy of Switzerland in Indonesia. A keynote speech was delivered by Mr Said Faisal, the Former Executive Director of the AHA Centre who was also the Deputy of BRR for Aceh and Nias responsible for the implementation of post-tsunami rehabilitation and reconstruction.
PARTNERS DIALOGUE: CELEBRATING PARTNERSHIP
The week-long strategic thematic forum ended with the Partners Dialogue: Celebrating Partnership event. The Partners Dialogue was used as an opportunity to share information on the work of the AHA Centre, its core achievements over the past 8 years, and share key discussions and findings regarding its proposed future direction. The activity invited all the AHA Centre’s partners from the past eight years to share their insights that can be used to help expand the Centre’s work for the next five years. This was the first time the AHA Centre brought together all its donors and strategic and operational partners together in one event to discuss the AHA Centre’s work, achievements, core business, mandate and strategy. The Forum was attended by 66 participants including representatives from ASEAN Dialogue Partners, strategic and operational partners, AHA Centre staff, ASEAN Secretariat, along with several supporters and observers.
Written by : Ina Rachmawati | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
11TH MEETING OF THE GOVERNING BOARD OF THE AHA CENTRE
October the 2nd 2019 saw the 11th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre take place in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, which was followed by the 7th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) and the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) on October 4th. To round of the busy schedule, the Governing Board convened back-to-back with the 35th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the 12th Meeting of the ASEAN Joint Task Force to Promote Synergy with Other Relevant ASEAN Bodies on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief – all of which took place between 1 – 3 of October.
The Governing Board received an update from the AHA Centre regarding a range of activities and programmes that had taken place throughout the previous period, including updates on such things as preparations for the 2020 ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX-2020) with the Philippines, implementation of Level 2 ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) courses, and the development of the ICT Roadmap on Disaster Management for 2025 and Beyond. The Governing Board also received updates on the development and launching of the Disaster Emergency Logistics System of ASEAN (DELSA) Satellite Warehouses – in both the Philippines and Thailand – that took place during the middle of 2019.
Of particular note to the Governing Board was the ongoing ASEAN Village recovery project, implemented by the AHA Centre in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. This project has utilised generous financial support from Brunei Darussalam and the Philippines to support communities affected by the earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction disasters that struck the region in September 2018. The AHA Centre also appreciated support from the Government of Australia to strengthen the project’s management, and highlighted the potential of further support arriving from other parties.
The Governing Board also encompassed and afforded support to the AHA Centre’s plan to – as part of its 8th anniversary – conduct a visioning exercise to re-think how the AHA Centre can further enhance its services to support ASEAN as the primary regional coordinating agency on disaster management and emergency response. The effort would include workshops to determine if AHA Centre could contribute towards the provision of humanitarian assistance during human-induced disasters. The Governing Board maintained that the AHA Centre must focus on its existing mandates through enhancing its core services in disaster management and emergency response, as well as ensuring synergy, adaptability and readiness of its systems, procedures and skills to potentially provide humanitarian assistance to other types of disasters.
The meeting also resulted in the Governing Board adopting the Financial Status of the AHA Centre, as well as the AHA Centre Budget for 2020. Recent successful external audits were also highlighted, with the AHA Centre successfully completing such audits for all externally funded projects through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) as well as the AHA Centre Fund. Options for strengthening financing mechanism will also be explored, to help ensure the region is more self-reliant in the funding of emergency response operations and deployment of ASEAN-ERAT.
Written by : William Shea | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
ASEAN RESPONDS TO FLOODS IN LAO PDR
The formation of Tropical Storm ‘Podul’ was first identified on August 27, 2019, with the AHA Centre intensifying its monitoring efforts based on the potential size and impact of the storm. As September arrived, so too did a large Low Pressure Area (LPA) and a Tropical Depression – known as Tropical Depression ‘Kajiki’. The combination of the LPA, tropical storm and tropical depression resulted in significant rainfall and flooding across 6 provinces in Lao PDR – Champasak, Saravan, Sekong, Savannakhet, Attapeu, and Khammouan. The AHA Centre quickly stepped up to the call of support from the Government of Lao PDR, and responded through various means to support the affected communities of the ASEAN Member State.
Ready to operationalise the spirit of “One ASEAN, One Response”, the AHA Centre worked quickly to support the Lao PDR Government’s response through coordination, information management, rapid needs assessment, and deployment of ASEAN relief items from the region’s Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) warehouse network. The AHA Centre’s In-Country Liaison Team (ICLT) was mobilised to coordinate the region’s response support, and also facilitated the handover ceremony of DELSA relief items in Vientiane on 12 September 2019. The relief items comprised of family kits (330), personal hygiene kits (2,596), kitchen sets (1,144), mosquito nets (1,400) and jerry cans (1,400), which were airlifted into the affected region by the A400M of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, from the DELSA regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia.
The AHA Centre’s Information Management specialist and ICLT, together with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Education, and the Lao PDR Red Cross, also engaged in a National Joint Needs Assessment Planning Meeting implemented by the Director-General of Lao PDR’s Social Welfare Department in Vientiane. The AHA Centre worked collaboratively with in-country members of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) to develop supporting tools and methods for the assessment efforts, to be translated into local language and provided to local staff for implementing the assessment in affected areas.
Flood waters began to subside on September 10, with conditions improving slowly through all affected provinces during the days that followed. The damage that remained was significant, with figures showing up to 89 bridges, 613 schools, 46 health centres and hospitals, 298 km of roads, 274,719 hectares of farmland, 574,742 livestock, and 36 reservoirs affected by the floods. Total damage is so far estimated at more than USD 10 million. Flooding and related hazards affected over 661,000 people, left 40,000 displaced, and resulted in the deaths of 18 souls. The AHA Centre’s Executive Director, Ms. Adelina Kamal, summed-up the region’s feelings when she spoke at the handover ceremony of DELSA relief items. “Our hearts and prayers are with the communities affected by the floods. The AHA Centre as a centre established by the ten ASEAN Member States, including Lao PDR, stands ready to enhance country-led response to alleviate the suffering of the flood-affected communities.”
Written by : William Shea | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
Vol 54 – ASEAN STRATEGIC POLICY DIALOGUE ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT (SPDDM) 2019: BUILDING ASEAN’S RESILIENCY TO DISASTERS
ASEAN STRATEGIC POLICY DIALOGUE ON DISASTER MANAGEMENT (SPDDM) 2019:
BUILDING ASEAN’S RESILIENCY TO DISASTERS
Building on the success of 2018’s forum, the ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management (SPDDM) 2019 turned its focus to the region’s resiliency in the face of disaster. Titled Building ‘ASEAN’s Resiliency to Disasters’, the 2019 SPDDM took place in Singapore on the 21st of August 2019, and was attended by some of the region and the world’s leading disaster management professionals. The event was co-organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, the AHA Centre, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), alongside the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies as the forum’s knowledge partner.
In 2018, the SPDDM focused on “Strengthening a Disaster Resilient ASEAN through Effective Cross-Sectoral Cooperation and Innovation”, with the theme of enhancing ASEAN’s disaster management capabilities through multi-sectoral engagement. 2019’s SPDDM continued on this track, aiming to develop discussions on how ASEAN how partnerships contribute toward building ASEAN’s resiliency in times of disasters, in line with ASEAN’s theme of ‘Partnership for Sustainability’ under Thailand’s Chairmanship in 2019. This topic pushes to continue building on ASEAN’s achievements to enhance resilience for communities and other stakeholders across the region. As part of the day’s discussions, participants and speakers discussed ongoing efforts to realise the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management, with the range of inputs to act as a reference in the upcoming development of the AADMER Work Programme 2021 – 2025.
The forum was opened by Dr Ko Ko Naing, the Director-General of the Department of Disaster Management of Myanmar as this year Chair of the ASEAN Committee for Disaster Management (ACDM), in which he highlighted the importance of partnerships in reducing losses from disasters, and that the SPPDM could form a platform in which stakeholders could share and exchange their knowledge on the issues faced. During the speech Dr Ko Ko Naing also noted that the operationalisation of “One ASEAN, One Response” forms a key step to further building ASEAN’s resiliency to disasters. Mrs. Josephine Teo, Ministry of Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs of Singapore, followed-on by encouraging governments to be more resilient in the face of climate change and natural disasters, while highlighting the importance of sufficient resources being allocated to government agencies for disaster management efforts. Mrs. Teo also highlighted the importance of community engagement – particularly teaching people about the dangers and threats they are exposed to and how to deal with them – while highlighting several initiatives used in Singapore to raise awareness and capacity for the community in disaster management.
Following interesting speeches from other key representatives and organisers of the forum, a high-level discussion then took place on the topic of ‘ASEAN Resiliency: Forging Partnerships For Future Challenges’. Panellists engaged in the fruitful discussion included Ms. Cristelle Pratt, Deputy Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Under Secretary-General for Partnership at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Mr. Olabisi Dare, Head of Humanitarian Affairs, Refugees, and Internally Displaced Persons Division at the African Union. These panellists brought interesting perspective from outside of the ASEAN region, and highlighted efforts being taken in their own regions that could be of value to ASEAN.
The following session titled ‘ASEAN, sustainable Development and Disaster Impacts’, raised some of the contexts, challenges and learnings that would be applied to the ASEAN region on disaster management. Speakers included Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Ms. Lesley Jeanne Y. Cordero, Senior Disaster Risk Management Specialist from the World Bank Group, Mr. Darren Klemm, Commissioner of Department of Fire and Emergency Services in the State of Western Australia, and Mr. Teong How Hwa, Deputy Commissioner (Future Technology and Public Safety) at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
To round out the discussion sessions, the third thematic forum focused on “Adapting To Localisation as a New Norm In Humanitarian Response”, in which the AHA Centre’s Executive Director Ms. Adelina Kamal, moderated a range of participants through interesting insights on the application of local-based contexts and approaches to broad-scale disaster management efforts. The SPDDM was then capped-off with a range of questions and answer sessions regarding the content of earlier discussions and closing remarks from the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), Mr. Kung Phoak, that summed-up the day’s findings and the important points to be considered on behalf of the region as a whole.
Written by : William Shea | Photo : SCDF