ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE
Remaining focused on responding to natural disasters in the ASEAN region, alongside planning for facilitating potential collective ASEAN responses outside of the region form the key recommendations for the AHA Centre. These points were deliberated by participants of the ASEAN Senior Official Multi-Sectoral Workshop on One ASEAN One Response, organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, from the 27th to 28th of March 2018. Representatives from a wide range of ASEAN sectoral bodies attended the workshop, including from the Country Permanent Representatives (CPR), the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), representatives from the Senior Official Meeting (SOM), ASEAN Defense Senior Official Meeting (ADSOM), Senior Official Meeting on Health Development (SOMHD), Senior Official Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD), as well as other relevant ASEAN entities and partners.
The principal purpose of this meeting–as highlighted by the ASEAN Secretary-General H.E. Lim Jock Hoi during his opening address–was to engage the views of a range of stakeholders in more prominently defining the functions of the Declaration, as well as providing clarity to requirements for current and future humanitarian challenges faced by the ASEAN region.
The One ASEAN One Response Declaration, signed by the ASEAN Leaders in 2016, reaffirms the commitment of ASEAN nations to respond collectively to major disasters in the region as one, in order to achieve faster speed, greater resources and stronger coordination. It also reaffirms the position of the AHA Centre as the primary regional coordinating agency on disaster management and emergency response, as well as tasks the AHA Centre to establish coordination mechanisms with other East Asian Summit (EAS) participating countries to enable them to provide assistance to ASEAN countries affected by disasters. The Declaration also envisions a future where ASEAN countries can collectively provide assistance to countries outside of the ASEAN region, and tasks the AHA Centre with preparing for such engagement.
The AHA Centre used this opportunity to update workshop participants on recent progress made by the AHA Centre in operationalising the One ASEAN One Response Declaration. The Director of Operations of the AHA Centre, Arnel Capili, presented a range of tools and concepts that the AHA Centre has developed throughout recent years, supported by strategic guidance from the ACDM. Such processes, amongst others, include the Joint Operations and Coordination Centre of ASEAN (JOCCA), the Web Emergency Operation Centre (WebEOC), and the Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS). However, the most important of all is the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP), which contains a list of earmarked assets and capacities of ASEAN Member States that may be voluntarily mobilised to support countries affected by disaster.
The operational focus of the AHA Centre also formed a key subject of discussion during the workshop, with many participants seeking clarification on the AHA Centre’s future role responding to human-induced disasters, as an addition to natural disaster response. Participants finally agreed that AHA Centre should remain focused on natural disasters, with potential human-induced disaster response to be decided on case-by-case basis and with limited focus only on providing immediate humanitarian assistance in such cases. All the points of discussion were summarised into a 16-point recommendation list to be presented to the next meeting of the ACDM in June 2018.
The Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Adelina Kamal, thanked all the ASEAN Member States for their continued and ongoing support for the AHA Centre. She nevertheless highlighted that there is still much work to do, including increasing the contribution of other sectors in ASEAN for the AJDRP, as well as pushing for broadened participation of the private sector and civil society in the AJDRP.
The AHA Centre launched and introduced a new handbook titled “Operationalising One ASEAN One Response: Speed, Scale, Solidarity” at the workshop, which serves as a reference for operationalising One ASEAN One Response.
Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo : AHA Centre/Shintya Kurniawan, ASEAN Secretariat
THE 9TH ASEAN-ERAT
Ten years since its first ASEAN-ERAT deployment – to support the response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar – the AHA Centre conducted its 9th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course from the 26th of March until the 1st of April 2018, in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. With outstanding support from the Department of Disaster Management of Myanmar (DDM) as the host, the course was attended by 31 participants from nine of the ten ASEAN Member States. Participants came from an array of backgrounds, including National Disaster Management Organisations, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Civil Society Organisations, Youth Groups, the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), and the AHA Centre itself. The 9th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course was officially opened with an inspiring speech by Dr. Win Myat Aye, the Union Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar.
One of the key features of the 9th course was the simulation exercise scenario – which engaged one of the ASEAN Contingency Plans for large scale disaster – namely a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Metro Manila. Using this contingency plan scenario, the simulation exercise increased the feeling of authenticity for participants as they performed the ASEAN-ERAT core functions, including rapid damage and needs assessments and incoming ASEAN relief item facilitation. They also enacted the provision of on-site coordination support to the affected country’s local authorities, namely through the facilitation of coordination meetings between a range of ground-level stakeholders.
The simulation exercise also allowed ASEAN-ERAT participants to develop their working relationships with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, as part of the continued development of inter-operability between the Joint Operations and Coordination Centre of ASEAN (JOCCA) and the UN On-site Coordination Centre. Other components including personnel and team safety and security, as well as working with media were also tested during the simulation exercise. By simulating this response as part of the ASEAN-ERAT course, the AHA Centre has further enhanced the streamlining and capacity of ASEAN-ERAT within the ASEAN Contingency Plan development process.
Of particular note was the enthusiasm and spirit of the participants to deliver results during the non-stop, 48-hour simulation exercise. Given its intensity, the diversity of participants’ backgrounds, and varying skills across the different nationalities, the final results were considerably strong. These diversities and challenges were raised throughout the debrief session, often identified as considerable factors in shared-learning and strengthening the team.
Participants also valued the engagement of a range of external parties, including the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the International Red Cross/Crescent Societies (IFRC), Map Action, Télécoms Sans Frontières, and Myanmar Red Cross amongst others, which provided them the opportunity to familiarise themselves with other key actors who would work alongside them in the field. This also allowed participants to see the importance of stakeholder engagement in achieving the vision of One ASEAN, One Response within the ASEAN-ERAT programme.
The successful completion of the 9th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course, supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), alongside other previously-mentioned implementation partners, sees a current pool of 252 ASEAN-ERAT members across the region. Graduates were inaugurated during the Closing Ceremony by Ms. Adelina Kamal, Executive Director of the AHA Centre, together with the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement of Myanmar, Dr. U Soe Aung and Director General of DDM of Myanmar, Dr. Ko Ko Naing.
“We believe that the benefit of the ASEAN-ERAT goes beyond disaster response and that, because the ERAT teams are composed of government and NGO staff, participants are able to learn skills and get awareness of technologies and practices to take home and use in their current and future projects” – Sebastien Latouille, Delegate of Télécoms Sans Frontière.
“All of the new graduates should feel a great sense of pride. This very demanding course tested each of them and they all came through!” – Oliver Lacey-Hall, Head of UN-OCHA Indonesia/ASEAN Liaison Office.
“During the training, we made mistakes under the stress of the situation. But we could correct our mistakes and overcome the stress by working together and supporting each other as a team. We really appreciate the patience of our facilitators and mentors, for teaching us, for staying with us in the SimEx and sharing your knowledge and expertise with us” – Chan Nyein Thu, ASEAN-ERAT member Batch 9, Department of Disaster Management, Myanmar.
Written by: Grace Endina | Photo: AHA Centre
THE 23RD ASEAN-ERAT
MISSION IN YANGON, MYANMAR
In response to fires breaking out in Htein Pin Dump Site, Hlaing Tharyar Township, Yangon, Myanmar, the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) was deployed to provide technical support for the Government of Myanmar, and support almost 800,000 citizens affected by the incident. This mission, taking place between the 28th of April and the 2nd of May 2018, became the 23rd ASEAN-ERAT response since the programme’s formation in 2008.
The initial flames sparked on the 21st of April due to excessive heat on piles of non-degradable waste at the dump site located in Western Yangon, with the Government of Myanmar responding quickly to begin overcoming the situation. Anticipating the health risk posed by the resulting smoke, the Public Health Department of Yangon Region quickly launched 24-hour air quality monitoring activities within the vicinity of the dumpsite. Subsequently, on the 25th of April, the regional government released warnings regarding the potential health risk due to smoke from the site. Inter-agency coordination was also activated between the national authorities and surrounding provincial and district authorities.
Given the large coverage of the landfill, as well as the depth of the subsurface embers, taming the fire was extremely challenging – however this was not the only problem. The continuous exposure to smoke and haze was also beginning to cause acute respiratory health problems and disturb livelihoods for citizens living nearby the affected zone. As a result, within two days of receiving the notice for assistance from Myanmar’s Department of Disaster Management (DDM), the AHA Centre and its Governing Board immediately activated the ASEAN-ERAT mission on the 27th of April 2018.
The deployed team was assigned specific objectives, namely to support the DDM in assessing the situation, providing recommendations on fire control strategies, and addressing potential environmental and public health issues. Alongside this, the team was also tasked to identify and recommend resources and capacities that could be mobilised from ASEAN Member States, through AHA Centre facilitation. ASEAN-ERAT Team worked closely with DDM, Yangon City Development Council (YCDC), Yangon Fire Service Department, local police, and military to conduct the rapid assessment.
The ASEAN-ERAT’s recommendations were classified across short-term, urgent measures to isolate fires, as well as to reduce health risks; a medium-term recovery strategy; and long-term mitigation efforts through improved waste-management systems. Almost all of the short-term recommendations were implemented immediately, with significant positive impact and results witnessed within a week. Overall, the fires were brought under control by early May of 2018. Such outcomes could only be achieved through the collaborative expertise of various parties. This included ASEAN-ERAT personnel on deployment – such as staff of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (who provided technical recommendations on firefighting operations and handling of hazardous materials) and ASEAN Secretariat staff from the Philippines (an expert in public health management) – alongside staff from Myanmar’s DDM with their knowledge of local resources and geography, and the AHA Centre’s staff member who served as the In-Country Liaison Team Leader.
Additionally, the Government of Myanmar also welcomed the assistance of the Kingdom of Thailand through bilateral cooperation. The support team consisted of fire fighting specialists and environment specialists from the Royal Thai Armed Forces, Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Industry. During the mission, the ASEAN-ERAT and team from Thailand closely coordinated to exchange information and validate observations and recommendations. While the ASEAN Community has once again demonstrated its solidarity in responding to non-natural disaster, the incident also draws attention to the advantages of having a variety of skills, background and expertise within the current pool of ASEAN-ERAT. As stated by the AHA Centre’s Director of Operations, Arnel Capili, at the end of the deployment, “Sometimes key support is not about helicopters, ships and massive amounts of relief items. It can also be delivered through sound technical advice to mitigate the consequences of a hazard.”
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo: AHA Centre