SUPPORTING RETURNING COMMUNITIES
TO RAKHINE STATE
The humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State, Myanmar, is complex and protracted in nature, requiring ongoing support and partnerships to facilitate the repatriation of communities displaced during preceding years. After in-depth discussions and planning, the AHA Centre was requested by the Government of Myanmar to assist its work in the repatriation process, resulting in the Centre and members of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) undertaking preliminary needs assessments with the Government of Myanmar during the early stages of 2019. On May 27, 2019, the ASEAN Secretary-General and Myanmar’s Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement met to discuss the results of the needs assessments, and determine plans for implementation processes to enhance a safe, dignified and voluntary community repatriation to the region.
It was during the 33rd ASEAN Summit, held on 13 November 2018 in Singapore, that the Heads of State/Government from ASEAN Member States expressed their readiness to support Myanmar in its ongoing repatriation efforts. The ASEAN Leaders also welcomed the invitation extended by the Government of Myanmar to the AHA Centre to deploy a needs assessment team, tasked to identify possible areas of cooperation in Rakhine State in order to facilitate the repatriation process. A terms of reference was collaboratively developed by the Department of Disaster Management of Myanmar (DDM Myanmar), the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Secretariat, with the developed objective of the Preliminary Needs Assessment aimed to assess the readiness of Reception and Transit Centres, including potential relocations sites, previously identified by the Government of Myanmar.
During March 2019, an ASEAN-ERAT team composed of ten members from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the AHA Centre and the ASEAN Secretariat, were deployed to Myanmar. The mission began with a preparedness training and planning workshop in Nay Pyi Taw – jointly organised by the DDM Myanmar and the AHA Centre – and included a briefing on safety and security, team organisation and responsibilities, testing of communications procedures, and review of the repatriation plan and assessment tools. ASEAN-ERAT was supported by officials from DDM Myanmar, the ASEAN Secretariat, and two interpreters. The findings of the assessment and the Executive Summary of the report were then presented to the Director-General of DDM Myanmar, and a briefing provided to the Secretary-General of ASEAN regarding the outcome of the Preliminary Needs Assessment.
Given the complexity of crisis in Rakhine State, it was important for the region to provide objective, unbiased and constructive support to the Government of Myanmar to ensure strong repatriation processes for affected communities. Findings from the ASEAN-ERAT Preliminary Needs Assessment showed that the Government of Myanmar has put significant effort into its repatriation plan, including the preparation of facilities, humanitarian assistance and human resources. While ongoing efforts to repatriate displaced persons continue, ASEAN-ERAT identified options for strengthening reception and transit centres, as well as recommendations on information dissemination, and provision of basic services. These three areas of cooperation will valuably support the Government of Myanmar in the process, and stand as the ASEAN region’s key support mechanism through a positive working partnership with the Government of Myanmar.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Myanmar, I am grateful to ASEAN for standing firmly with Myanmar, and for supporting repatriation through preliminary needs assessments. As one of our most trusted and supportive partners, Myanmar looks forward to continuing working with ASEAN and continuing to strengthen our regional ties through these efforts.”
– Win Myat Aye, Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Myanmar.
Written by : Grace Endina | Photo : AHA Centre, ASEAN-ERAT
THE 11TH ASEAN-ERAT
Following the success of the previous courses, the AHA Centre conducted the 11th ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) Induction Course to train a new group of disaster responders ready for deployment across the ASEAN region. The Level 1 course took place in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, from the 8th to the 15th of April 2019. After successfully completing the 100 hours of course materials and training, the thirty are now prepared to engage in disaster responses at any moment as part of the united One ASEAN, One Response movement.
The course’s 30 participants were made up of representatives from all 10 ASEAN Member States’ National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs), and other sectors, such as health, foreign affairs, etc. as well as civil society representatives from the AADMER Partnership a Group (APG), the International Federation of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the ASEAN Secretariat, and staff of the AHA Centre. The 11th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course was made possible through the strong support of National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) of Brunei Darussalam, its own In-Country ASEAN-ERAT team, as well as funding support from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).
Alongside classroom sessions covering modules of information management, rapid assessment, logistics management, and coordination, there was also a 48-hour simulation exercise that adopted the scenario of a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila. This exercise was injected into the course to prepare and familiarise participants with the situation experienced during real disasters.
“Overall the course was well planned and executed within an interactive classroom sharing setting, as well as a realistic field simulation exercise. This made the learning more engaging and effective. Beyond learning about the technicalities, it was an excellent opportunity to learn and hear from fellow participants from the other NDMOs and organisations about their deployment experiences, as well as their country’s culture”, said Matthew Tay, a participant from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
The success of the 11th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course was also possible with the engagement of partners from various organisations including MapAction UK, RedR Australia, the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the IFRC.
During the course, three graduates of the ASEAN-ERAT Training of Trainers course played important roles as course facilitators, which formed a new innovation during the 11th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course. “As a relatively newcomer in the area of disaster management, the Induction Course provided me with a compact yet insightful overview of the roles of an international response team during the occurrence of sudden on-set disasters” explained Akmal Aji from the NDMC of Brunei Darussalam.
“Even though many aspects of the course such as the simulation exercise was tough and energy-draining, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, as it was rewarding to be learning a skill-set that can contribute to alleviating the hardships faced by people affected by the devastating impact of natural hazards” he continued.
Fittingly, Mr. Aji highlighted the importance of the engagement of all the different parties within the course, when he said that “The training wouldn’t have been as fun if it hadn’t been for the other participants and the course facilitators, who aside from being knowledgeable and helpful, ensured that the entire course was well-organised and carried-out successfully”.
Written by: Melya Wardhani | Photo : AHA Centre
THE LAUNCH OF ARMOR FIRST EDITION
The ASEAN Risk Monitor and Disaster Management Review (ARMOR) is the AHA Centre’s newest information publication – a journal that aims to combine science, policy recommendations, and review of actual practices in disaster management. ARMOR’s development is a primary element of the AHA Centre’s efforts to increase the ASEAN region’s knowledge and skills within the global disaster management field, with the first edition published during March 2019. To celebrate this significant achievement, the AHA Centre held ARMOR’s launching event on the 20th of March in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A key aim of ARMOR – is to bridge the gap between science and decision-making in disaster management, with the launch event opening discussions between scientists and decision-makers who were in attendance. The event was officially opened by the Deputy Secretary – General (DSG) of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs – H.E. AKP Mochtan, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Indonesia and Timor Leste – H.E. Moazzam Malik, and the AHA Centre’s Executive Director – Ms. Adelina Kamal. Overall, over 100 guests attended the event, including representatives from ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Dialogue Partners, the British Embassy in Jakarta, senior officials of the Indonesian government, a range of AHA Centre partner organisations, academic and scientific community and journalists.
The importance of ARMOR for disaster management in the ASEAN region was reflected by DSG AKP Mochtan in his speech, in which he not only congratulated the AHA Centre for its work on the publication, but also highlighted the functionality of the publication for regional disaster managers and decision-makers.“I would like to congratulate the AHA Centre for its tremendous work in providing a critical platform to bridge science and decision making in the region. The launch of ARMOR is an auspicious critical step forward to building knowledge in the ASEAN community and a valuable opportunity for ASEAN to re-examine our evidence-based decision-making processes. As one of the most highly vulnerable regions to catastrophic disasters, ASEAN has no other alternative but to work toward institutionalising resilience among its communities and peoples.”
During the event, sections from the 10 chapters of ARMOR’s first edition were also discussed by regional disaster management professionals who contributed to the writing, including Dr. Mizan Bisri of the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability and Mr. Lawrence Anthony Dimailig of the AHA Centre. The discussion panel – moderated by Said Faisal, the former Executive Director of the AHA Centre who also served as a member of the Board of Editors of ARMOR – gained significant insights and feedback from guest experts such as Dr. Allistair Cook from the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, and Mr. Ray Shirkhodai, the Executive Director of the Pacific Disaster Center based in Hawaii.
The success of the launching, and importance of ARMOR overall was reaffirmed by Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Ms. Adelina Kamal during her speech in which she stated that “ARMOR aims to put science at the centre of decision-making process. We are very pleased to launch ARMOR, and hope that the report will be beneficial for our stakeholders to address disaster management across the region”. Ms. Kamal also expressed gratitude to all those involved, reminding all in attendance that “the resources required to develop the ARMOR report are not those of the AHA Centre’s alone, but from the active contribution and participation of the authors, reviewers, editors, and partners of the AHA Centre”.
Written by: Wiliam Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
PREPAREDNESS AND SAFETY TIPS
The Pacific typhoon season poses an annual threat to the ASEAN region, with Member States such as Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam, and in particular the Philippines often experiencing the brunt of large typhoons and tropical storms – usually between the months of May to October. Numerous typhoons and tropical storms also form in the Northern Pacific (Bay of Bengal) region, often striking Myanmar and other nearby nations from the west of ASEAN. 2018 displayed the potential impact of such events, with Typhoon Mangkhut and Tropical Storm Son Tinh affecting ASEAN communities, not only through the initial impact of the storms, but also the resulting disasters such as flood and landslides caused by the heavy rain and winds. Through its activities during the advance of Typhoon Mangkhut, the Philippines evidenced the benefit of preparedness measures in the typhoon season, providing inspiration for the following tips on typhoon preparedness and safety measures.
WHEN A TYPHOON IS NEAR
Understanding and preparedness can play a significant role in minimising damage and loss of life when large storms are baring down. Strong planning and coordination between governments, communities and disaster management bodies such as the AHA Centre can go a long way towards ensuring the people of ASEAN and their livelihoods remain stable even in the face of super typhoon and tropical storm events. Organisations such as the AHA Centre and national governments have the technology and knowledge to track the progress of impending typhoon and storm cells, therefore information sharing and awareness is imperative for preparedness.
1. MONITOR INFORMATION
Identify your local news outlet and information channels from your local government and disaster management authorities, and follow the information and any directions (particularly orders to evacuate) during the days leading-up to the storm’s landfall.
2. PREPARE YOUR HOME
Your home is a place of refuge during a storm, as well as something to return to if you are ordered to evacuate. Boarding up windows and removing overhanging trees can go a long way to minimising damage to your place of residence.
3. PREPARE TO WAIT IT OUT
Once an impending typhoon is near, staying in your home is the only option, therefore a safe place on the ground floor away from windows and doors should be identified. It is best to organise food, water and medical supplies in advance, as it may be some time before the storm clears and emergency teams can access your local area to provide further support.
4. PREPARE A GRAB-BAG
Having a Grab-Bag is imperative should you be ordered to evacuate at short notice. It should contain water, nutritional food/snacks, spare warm clothes, a torch, a communication device, and important medication.
5. HARVEST AND SECURE
For farmers or fishermans, it is recommended to harvest available crops in the days leading-up to a typhoon’s landfall, fishing boats and other important farming equipment should be secured and tied-down in a safe place, to ensure increased ability to return to economic activities once the worst has passed.
DURING AND AFTER A TYPHOON
Whether you are in your home or forced to evacuate, your decisions can determine your safety during the event of disaster.
1. IN THE HOME
If in your home, confine yourself to the determined safe space away from windows on the ground floor, with all doors and windows closed and covered. Turn off gas and electricity sources, and wait calmly until the worst has passed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull in the storm, as it may be the storm’s eye or a moment of respite. Once conditions have calmed for a number of hours, it is then safe to say that you have survived the worst. Remember, however, to be aware of secondary disasters such as flood and landslide that may threaten your immediate surrounds.
In the days leading-up to the typhoon’s landfall you may be requested to evacuate to a nearby safe location appointed by your local government or disaster management body. It is recommended to follow all orders and requests completely, as such decisions are made based on the most relevant and technical information available, and with the best interests of community safety in mind. Pack your important belongings and your Grab-Bag, and follow all orders from authorities calmly and in an orderly fashion.
AFTER THE STORM
If planning to return from evacuation shelters, only do so when given the all-clear by the relevant authorities. When arriving home, monitor your property from the outside, check for damage to the structure of your house, and also to cables or pipes for electricity and gas. For those waiting-out the storm at home, the same applies as for evacuees. Check your home’s structure and potential leaks or breaks in utility supplies, wait for contact from emergency services, and at all times remain aware of potential secondary disasters.
Written by: Will Shea
THE AHA CENTRE
ANNUAL PLANNING MEETING 2019
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
Failing to prepare means preparing to fail. Therefore, the AHA Centre team dedicated two full days away from their regular duties to reflect on their 2018 achievements, as well as undertake the planning of the organisation’s activities for 2019. The AHA Centre’s Annual Planning Meeting took place in Bogor, just outside of Jakarta. Alongside consolidating their 2019 agenda, the Centre’s staff also worked together to ensure that all planned activities will contribute to the AADMER* Work Programme 2016-2020.
“The AHA Centre has several departments and we are here as a reminder that each individual is important to the team. If the AHA Centre is a boat, the operations team might be the hull. But, the boat will not move without the propeller that gives it power to move forward, which in a way symbolises the Corporate Affairs Division who takes care of finance and human-resources management. The boat also needs a steering wheel as it gives direction on where the boat needs to go, which symbolises the role of the Office of Executive Director who holds control of the steering wheel and gives direction for the organisation”, said Arnel Capili, the newly-appointed Deputy Executive Director of the AHA Centre. Arnel was using the metaphor of a boat to describe the working mechanism of the AHA Centre.
Throughout the meeting, AHA Centre’s team identified room for improvements based on 2018’s learnings, and scheduled priorities for the business as usual agendas, including induction courses for the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT), the 6th Batch of the AHA Centre Executive Programme, and many other integral programmes and projects. On top of that, the Centre also began preparations for the launch of two new satellite warehouses to strengthen the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA), as well as the humanitarian mission in Rakhine State, the establishment of the ASEAN Resilient Village in Central Sulawesi, and the implementation of Integrated Programme in Enhancing the Capacity of AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanism (EU-SAHA) project. The Team also agreed to reorient the organisation’s core business into five core services, in accordance to its main mandate to facilitate cooperation and collaboration in disaster management in ASEAN. The five core services of the AHA Centre cover coordination, data intelligence and analysis, resource management, knowledge and outreach, and financing.
Dipo Summa, the Knowledge and Change Management Officer of the AHA Centre underlined that, “The Centre has completed numerous activities in 2018. However, we learned that we over-estimated our capacity and placed too many plans on our plate. It is good for us to reflect on our strategies in order to re-prioritise our forthcoming agenda in 2019”.
*AADMER : ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre
THE 10TH INDUCTION COURSE OF
For the second time in 2018, the AHA Centre successfully conducted an ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) level 1 course. The 100-hour course was implemented in Bogor, Indonesia during the first week of December 2018, resulting in 19 new graduates, which brings the total pool of talent to 275 deployable ASEAN-ERAT ready to respond to disasters across the region.
“I have been involved in several ASEAN-ERAT trainings and this by far is the most intense one”, said Mr. Sébastien Latouille, the representative from Télécoms Sans Frontières who co-facilitated the course. His remarks was echoed by other facilitators from the AHA Centre, DHL, Indonesian Red Cross, and MapAction. Alongside the continuous course content injections and changes – aimed to resemble the unpredictability of an actual emergency setting – participants also undertook mock-up assessments in mountainous terrain during the midst of a heavy downpour. Thankfully, the ambulance that was on stand-by was not required, as all participants took care of themselves and each other, conducting their work in good health and good shape.
In addition to the regular modules – such as logistic management, information management, rapid assessment, and coordination – a new innovation was integrated to the course design. With the support of DHL Asia Pacific, participants in this course were challenged to coordinate with partners from the private sector. In total, approximately 100 elements were injected during the 48-hour drill, that was a simulation of an emergency response to an earthquake in Metro Manila.
While handing over the signature ASEAN-ERAT vests, Ms. Adelina Kamal, Executive Director of the AHA Centre reminded all graduates that “when you wear the ERAT vest, wear it with pride, but also remember that you are the bridge of trust for ASEAN, and you are the ASEAN’s solidarity on the ground. Always treat fellow ERAT members as your friends, and continue to build strong relationship with them”.
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre
Large-scale disaster responses can be complex in nature, and require the engagement of a wide array of responders, support networks and capacities to ensure the safety of affected communities and pave the way for efficient recovery processes. To prepare for such events, improve procedures, and trial new innovations, every two years ASEAN’s disaster management bodies and practitioners come together to undertake the region’s largest simulation exercise – the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX-18) – that allows all parties to engage, trial and debrief within an atmosphere designed to mirror responses to a relevant large-scale disaster. ARDEX-18, ASEAN’s 7th such simulation, was implemented in Indonesia from the 5th to the 9th of November.
For the first time, 2018’s ARDEX saw the inclusion of hazardous material (hazmat) elements within the overall disaster response simulation, with the exercise focusing on a response to a three-fold disaster situation – namely an earthquake, tsunami and industrial facility damage leading to hazmat leakage – striking the area of Cilegon on the north-western tip of Java island. Cilegon itself has been highlighted by the Indonesian Disaster Management Authority (BPNB) as a high-risk area for such a risk, and therefore provided the perfect backdrop for the added hazmat element within the overall ARDEX-18 exercise. During his address at the opening of ARDEX-18, the then BNPB’s Chief, H.E. Willem Rampangilei, reminded participants of the overall importance of ARDEX events by stating that “ARDEX is an effort to demonstrate ASEAN’s solidarity in increasing disaster readiness, mitigation, and preparedness in Southeast Asia. ARDEX also serves as a platform to enhance our collective capacity and share ideas to attain the best possible disaster management efforts”.
Preparations for ARDEX-18 had been taking place for almost a year, ensuring the integration of a range of ASEAN disaster management procedures and practices including the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP), the ASEAN Standby Arrangements and Standard Operating Procedure (SASOP), the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT), and the guidelines to establish the Joint Operation and Coordinating Centre of ASEAN (JOCCA).
The results of the 5-day exercise will act as the catalyst for improvements and changes to many of these processes, including updating and refining the SASOP and ARDEX handbooks for future exercises. ARDEX-18 also presented the opportunity to engage bodies from both outside the direct disaster management scope, as well as outside the region, to further understand and increase implementation capacity of ASEAN disaster management process and practice, a particularly important element for efficient responses to large-scale disasters. ARDEX-18 was attended by a range of government officials, humanitarian organisations, search and rescue organisations, defence and military officials, private sector representatives, civil society actors, and members of the academic community to improve such broad multi-sectoral partner engagement in ASEAN disaster management activities.
Although faced by the challenges of ongoing disaster responses in Lombok and Central Sulawesi during the lead-up and implementation of ARDEX-18, Indonesia’s BNPB and AHA Centre managed to ensure a fluent and engaging implementation of the exercise, which encompassed a range of formats and workshops under the context of a transnational disaster response.
ARDEX-18 combined both strategic and tactical components, with the simulation exercise including indoor table top discussions between decision makers, in parallel with outdoor command post exercises (CPX) and joint field training exercises (FTX) for humanitarian responders. The real situation of multiple ongoing disaster responses further highlighted the importance and relevance of simulation exercises such as ARDEX-18 for the overall ASEAN, and international disaster management sector.
As stated by the AHA Centre’s Executive Director Ms. Adelina Kamal, “ARDEX is the only regional exercise platform that tests and validates disaster management tools to improve preparedness and readiness for One ASEAN One Response. It also provides a great environment for all of us, including local governments, local communities and stakeholders, to fight against complacency. ARDEX helps us explore the needs as well as acknowledge the capacity of all ASEAN Member States, that will be useful once we are faced with actual emergencies” she explained. As the event wrapped-up on the fifth and final day, all of the 170 participants from across the world had gained further insight into ASEAN’s mechanisms, alongside providing relevant input and sharing ideas and experience for furthering a united ASEAN.
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre
ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE FOR
“The tsunami caught everyone in a state of panic. I was near the beach, and everything happened so fast” recalls Misfar, a resident of Palu after a series of disaster events rocked Central Sulawesi on Friday evening the 28th of September, 2018. “The call to prayer began only shortly after the earthquake stopped – and wasn’t yet finished when the tsunami hit the beach”, Misfar explains as he recalls the rapid sequence of multiple disasters that began with a 7.7M earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami and a liquefaction phenomenon. Misfar and his family are grateful to have survived the triple disasters, but remain worried as they lost their houses and feel uncertain about their future.
Misfar is only one of over 68 thousand families whose houses were damaged or ruined by the disasters of the 28th of September. By end of the emergency phase on October 26th, the events caused the deaths of over 2000 people, with over 1,300 still missing, and over 200,000 residents of the Central Sulawesi province displaced. Adding to this, the earthquake also forcibly closed the Mutiara Al-Jufri Airport in Palu, slowing down logistical efforts and the flow of aid to Central Sulawesi’s affected districts (Palu City, Donggala, Sigi, and Parigi Moutong). The earthquake struck within less than two months after a series of seismic events shook the island of Lombok in Eastern Indonesia. The National Disaster Management Authority of Indonesia (BNPB) managed to extend support for both the recovery on Lombok Island, as well as the emergency response in Central Sulawesi.
The Government of Indonesia also opened its doors to welcome offers of international assistance, under specifications identified early during the initial stage of the response. As a result, the international community provided support in a range of forms, including air cargo capacity to transport relief items, water filtration units, family tents, generator sets, medical equipment, and environmental-management support for the prevention of mosquito-borne disease outbreak. At a later stage, the Government of Indonesia also accepted cash donations from governmental and humanitarian partners, channelled through BNPB and the Indonesian Red Cross. Throughout the emergency period, the BNPB worked alongside multiple governmental agencies, who came together on a national response task force. Engaging agencies included the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises, the National Search and Rescue Agency, the National Police Force, and the Ministry of Education. The national rapid response was reinforced by local NGOs, as well as volunteers from across the nation, who helped restore stability in the affected sites. In less than one week, the national taskforce managed to gradually restore electricity, telecommunication access, and access to gasoline supplies. Debris cleaning and the provision of health services were also quickly reinforced through the deployment of field hospitals and military vessels from neighbouring provinces and national resources.
“I am impressed by the Government of Indonesia’s work to quickly restore telecommunication and electricity infrastructure. Once the electricity was on, everything else followed, and coordination became easier”, said Kenneth Mak, one of the members of ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force who was deployed to Palu in the early days following the disasters.
The AHA Centre responded quickly to the disasters by providing full support as required to the BNPB. In addition to providing relief items, including generators, family tents, and mobile storage units, the AHA Centre also mobilised three groups of ASEAN-ERAT members, with a total deployment of 29 personnel from 5 ASEAN Member States. The Centre also supported BNPB with the facilitation, coordination and tracking of incoming international assistance in Jakarta, Balikpapan, and Palu.
During the second week of the emergency response, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, H.E. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, paid courtesy visit to BNPB and the AHA Centre. During this visit, the Chief of BNPB, H.E. Willem Rampangilei mentioned, “We are grateful for the tremendous support of the AHA Centre, who has been very helpful during the responses in Lombok and also Palu”.
In Palu, the AHA Centre and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) had the opportunity to implement ASEAN-UN interoperability of mechanism for the first time. On immediate notification, ASEAN-ERAT was assigned by BNPB to set-up and manage the on-site Joint Operations and Coordination Centre for International Assistance (JOCCIA), which is home to facilitate the initial joint needs assessments involving both national and multinational agencies. At a later stage, the ASEAN-ERAT and JOCCIA also hosted members of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team. The widespread impact and scale of the disaster attracted the attention of the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. António Guterres, who visited ground-zero on the 12th of October. Prior to the visit, he addressed ASEAN Leaders in Denpasar, reiterating the full commitment of the United Nations to support government-led rescue and relief efforts. “I also commend the work of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance which has been instrumental in the response, even facilitating and accommodating some of our embedded UN staff.”
The collaboration for the response in Central Sulawesi was comprehensively summarised by ASEAN-ERAT member from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Mr. Nazim Bin Kudin, when he stated that “everyone came together to help one another, and the best type of leadership is by setting examples, instead of simply telling one another what to do”. He continued by saying that “leading by example not only indicates that you are in-charge, but also the fact that you are involved in getting the work done. So, once you roll-up your sleeves, everyone will follow. That is what I witnessed from the excellent partnership here, especially with the logistics management team.”
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre
ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE
FOR TYPHOON MANGKHUT
By mid-September it was all-hands-on-deck in the AHA Centre, with the monitoring team tracking the formation of largest storm cell of the year so far, as it made its way across the Pacific Ocean with a population of millions across the Philippines directly in its path. Communities along the nation’s northern coastline and outer islands were being evacuated, as preparation was well underway for the onset of Super Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong). On the 15th of September, Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall in Cagayan Province, continuing its path westward with extreme winds and lashing rain, and leaving in its trail over 2.5 million people affected across the Philippines.
Afterwards, a total of 8 provinces and seven cities/municipalities have been announced under state of emergencies, with widespread damage to homes, infrastructure and livelihoods. Typhoon Mangkhut – that had an actual diameter larger than 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan – claimed over 50 lives, with hundreds more injured, and over 180,000 homes either fully or partially damaged. Total damage has been estimated at over USD 6 million, with communities particularly affected by secondary hazards that accompanied the typhoon, such as flooding and landslides. However, was it not for the coordinated effort in the days prior to the storm by the various national and sub-national agencies, alongside communities themselves, loss of life and damage could have been far worse.
“We pre-positioned the Cagayan Valley Response Team in advance, with early evacuation taking place two days prior to the typhoon’s landfall. We also estimated the numbers of people likely to be affected, and provided hygiene kits, non-food items, and generators. These preparedness measures managed to minimise casualties in our region”, explained Mr. Dante Balao, the Regional Director of Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Regional Office II, in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.
Alongside tracking the progress of Typhoon Mangkhut in the weeks and days leading-up to the disaster, the AHA Centre was also engaged with the Philippines Government, through the Philippines’ National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), in both the preparation and response to the storm. At a later stage, the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) was mobilised to provide information management and assessment report as the emergency phase coming to an end. On the 15th of September, just hours after the typhoon made landfall, the AHA Centre In-Country Liaison Team arrived in the Philippines, to establish direct communication with the NDRRMC in Manila and in affected areas, and to facilitate ASEAN’s assistance to those in need.
In response to the disaster, the AHA Centre mobilised relief items valued at over USD 275,000 to communities across the affected regions, including 30 tonnes of rice, four generator sets, and 2,000 rolls of tarpaulins. During the handover ceremony on September 24th, Undersecretary Ricardo B. Jalad, the Executive Director of NDRRMC and the Administrator of the Philippines’ Office of Civil Defense showed his appreciation for ASEAN’s support when he stated “I would like to thank and express my deep gratitude to the AHA Centre for facilitating this assistance”.
While Typhoon Mangkhut was a disastrous event for the Philippines and the ASEAN region, it presented an opportunity for the AHA Centre and ASEAN-ERAT to engage on a new element as part of the region’s ongoing efforts to improve disaster management practices. Three ASEAN-ERAT information management specialists were deployed to support the NDRRMC office with data analysis, data visualisation and report writing. One of the ASEAN-ERAT Level 2 members deployed to the Philippines, Adiratna Wira from Malaysia, recognised the importance of information management support for response agencies during disasters. “Aside from the actual products developed, there was great benefit for both the NDRRMC and ASEAN-ERAT members”, said Adiratna. “There was increased understanding in the roles and ways of working for each party, which could speed-up a range of processes and information distribution in the future.”
On the last day of the ASEAN-ERAT’s deployment, Mr. Edgar Posadas, the Director of Operations Service and Spokesperson of the NDRRMC emphasised, “we know that our region is always at risk of disasters, but with neighbours like you and friends like you, we know that things will be moving forward. We are thankful to our ASEAN neighbours and the AHA Centre for your help. The ASEAN region is advancing, we don’t have to go beyond our borders (to respond to disasters), so those beyond the ASEAN corridors can attend to their own disasters. I think it’s a way to go now, everybody is trying to be self-sufficient. We have to be ready should simultaneous disasters are taking place. So, the more capacity that we have and the more prepared we are, the better it will be for the people”.
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre
ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE
During August 2018 the AHA Centre once again evidenced ASEAN’s solidarity for disaster-affected population in the Southeast Asian region, this time supporting communities in the well-known tourist destination of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The area was recently the epicentre of multiple earthquakes, with the initial major quake recorded at M 6.4 on Sunday the 29th of July. A week later, on the 5th of August, a larger M 7 earthquake hit the already-affected area, increasing numbers of casualties and causing greater damaged to buildings and livelihoods within the Lombok region. The main shock also triggered a tsunami warning, which thankfully did not result in an actual tsunami event. However, throughout the month of August, over 1000 aftershocks were recorded by the Meteorological, Climatology, and Geological Agency of Indonesia (BMKG), with the region still remaining vulnerable to quakes during the ongoing recovery phase.
Following the main earthquake on the 5th of August 2018, the AHA Centre intensified its cooperation with Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB), which had been ongoing since the initial quake in late July. Upon receiving notification of the second earthquake, the AHA Centre immediately deployed a staff member to the field, provided information management and translation support for BNPB, as well as facilitated the deployment of an ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) to the affected region. A little later, the AHA Centre obtained a green-light to mobilise relief items from the ASEAN emergency stockpile in Subang, Malaysia. These relief items – worth approximately USD $154,438 – were picked-up by the BNPB using a chartered flight, arriving in Praya Airport, Lombok, in three batches between early to mid-August.
For Lombok, earthquake events are not particularly new, with notable earthquakes recorded in the region from as early as the year 1856. Consolidated data from the United States Geological Survey and the Indonesian Meteorological and Climatology Agency (BMKG) also noted that major earthquakes above M 6 occurred on the island in 1970, 1972, 1978, 1979, and 2000. Based on the latest National Disaster Risk Index – published by BNPB in 2016 – Lombok is categorised as a medium to high-scale earthquake-prone area. Considering these vulnerabilities and risks, the resettlement areas currently underconstruction will use similar earthquake-resistant technology that has been adopted through the post-earthquake recovery periods in Aceh and Nias, Sumatera, Indonesia.
“Indonesia is part of the ASEAN community, and the BNPB has been working closely with the ASEAN coordinating agency for disaster management, or AHA Centre. All Heads of State and Government of ASEAN countries have agreed to stand as one, whenever natural disasters happen in neighbouring states. Based on the One ASEAN One Response Declaration, Indonesia trusts the AHA Centre to provide additional logistical support that is required for the emergency response. For example, this Mobile Storage Unit we stand in that can serve as a portable warehouse, and family tents that can provide shelters for the displaced communities”, said H.E Willem Rampangilei, the Chief of BNPB, in between the emergency responses in Lombok.
On a similar note, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Ms. Adelina Kamal, stated that “the ASEAN relief items belong to all ASEAN countries, including Indonesia. When a disaster occurs and relief items are required, ASEAN Member State can access the regional stockpile, and the AHA Centre will facilitate its mobilisation to the affected areas. We would like to show our appreciation to the BNPB for the confidence given to the AHA Centre in complementing the government’s life-saving efforts on the ground. Our partnership strengthens the vision embodied in the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response”.
All ten ASEAN Member States have recognised the AHA Centre as the primary regional disaster management coordinating agency in ASEAN. Indonesia has been actively involved in the establishment of the AHA Centre, and has been hosting the AHA Centre since it first opened in November 2011. The mission to Lombok is the AHA Centre’s fifth response this year, bringing the total responses to 23 emergencies in 7 ASEAN countries since the AHA Centre’s establishment.
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre