Mr. Sombath Douangsavanh is the Deputy Director of the Disaster Preparedness and Response Division, Social Welfare Department, of the Lao PDR Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (Lao PDR’s National Disaster Management Organisation – NDMO). He works primarily as the ASEAN and International Cooperation National Programme Coordinator in the Integrated Programme for Climate Resilience and Empowerment, based in Attapeu province, Lao PDR.
Mr. Sombath took some time out this month to answer questions from the AHA Centre relating to his work, his experience with the AHA Centre programmes, and the overall disaster management context for Lao PDR.
When asked about the challenges he faces in his current position, Mr. Sombath identified the uniqueness of working in the middle-level management. “On the middle management level, most of our work is more on technical-focused, however as the Social Welfare Department acts as the Secretariat of Central Disaster Management Committee, that work is more focused on monitoring disaster management implementation, meaning we have a broad area of skills to encompass” he explained. “Additionally, leading the ASEAN and International Cooperation Emergency Operation Centre, I also have had to increase my knowledge and skills related to such things as situation analysis’, GIS remote sensing, and data management.”
Mr. Sombath also highlighted that he has strengthened many of his skills and experiences through engagement with the AHA Centre over the years. He identifies his participation in the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme as a key moment in his career. “The ACE Programme provided very comprehensive knowledge and skills from basics of disaster management, understanding the ASEAN context, UN and Red Cross mechanisms and specific skills, and also engaged us in the ASEAN-ERAT and other leadership efforts” he recalled. Mr. Sombath also believes it was these such engagements that have supported his career progression to this point, stating that “by having this kind of support and engagement, I have been promoted to a higher position, and utilise the knowledge gathered from ACE to manage my tasks and my team”. “Also, when a disaster situation arises, my skills can be used to support the emergency response effort”, Mr. Sombath said.
Mr. Sombath values learning and reflection both individually and with his wider team, and believes that networking and partnerships are the most important part of strong disaster management. He also has great hopes for the ASEAN region to continue its progression in all aspects of disaster management, and that the ASEAN mechanisms continue to strengthen and are effectively applied in disaster management across the region and also outside. Mr. Sombath finishes with a reminder to all disaster managers about the importance of complete and all-encompassing disaster management activities, and the importance that such activities are fully supported.
“We never hope disaster happens, however, to be better prepared, ASEAN Member State governments must continue to invest more on all disaster risk reduction efforts – not only response, but preparedness and recovery as well.”
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo : Mr. Sombath Douangsavanh
This month the AHA Centre invited Kajsa Sjösvärd – an international roster member from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and disaster management professional – to provide an insight into her work in disaster management both internationally and within Sweden. Topics ranged from the current pandemic response through to leadership and the sector in general, and we bring to you some of Kajsa’s key experiences and recommendations from the wide-ranging interview.
“My focus is on how to set up a well-functioning staff function, how to optimize it and how to maintain the personnel on a good energy level, despite the stressful environment”
Kajsa has recently been appointed team leader of the MSB’s LACER project being implemented with the AHA Centre, which provides her a new experience of working in the ASEAN region, to go alongside over a decade of experience with MSB and also locally in Sweden. “I am the Director of Crisis Management and Societal Safety at the County Board of Dalarna, in Sweden, and within that capacity I often take on the role of Chief of Staff when a disaster occurs in the County. I have also been a member of MSBs international roster for 10 years and have had several assignments in different capacities and continents.” Recently, Kajsa has also been engaged in Sweden’s pandemic response, as well as leading a response team after the devastating forest fires in Sweden during 2018.
A big part of Kajsa’s role is leadership – which sees her in charge of a range of staff during disaster responses at a local and international level. “My focus is on how to set up a well-functioning staff function, how to optimize it and how to maintain the personnel on a good energy level, despite the stressful environment” Kajsa explains. “I enjoy working with other people in teams and to set up and reach goals. It is challenging to be a part of the development process where an organisation, and foremost the persons within the organisation, are working together to reach new goals and continuously progress. I thrive being a leader in that context, to support and provide energy, but also to guide direction and find creative solutions to problems.” Kajsa also highlights the important aspects of leadership in the disaster field by explaining that “it is important to be communicative, flexible, have a positive mind-set, take the initiative and make decisions when dealing with disasters”.
Kajsa also highlights the importance of positivity and leadership during long and challenging deployments, and also promotes undertaking activities to wind down when possible – with Kajsa’s preferences being running and mountain biking. She also highlights the lessons that the global pandemic has taught us in relation to disaster management, and believes it has strengthened some of the long-held beliefs of global disaster management professionals. “I believe more global cooperation, coordination and learning is needed, not less. No single state can act in isolation concerning these borderless disasters. That is why transboundary cooperation, at different levels, will remain crucial. I think that it poses a challenge, but also a great opportunity for everyone working with disasters.”
“it is important to be communicative, flexible, have a positive mind-set, take the initiative and make decisions when dealing with disasters”.
Written by : Moch Syifa and William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
Andreane Tampubolon, or Anne as she is known to her colleagues and friends, works with the Indonesian Red Cross Restoring Family Links (RFL) team. As the head of the RFL team within the Disaster Management Unit, Anne has been engaged in the organisation for more than 10 years, providing her with a rich variety of experiences and engagements across the international disaster management sector. Anne has also contributed as a facilitator in the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme, and has been deployed as an ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) member to regional disasters including the 2015 Myanmar floods, the 2016 earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia, and the recent Greater Jakarta floods, also in Indonesia. Anne also holds many deployments directly as part of the Red Cross.
For this article we engaged Anne with questions on a variety of areas related to disaster management, and her responses and ideas were interesting and full of understanding.
What has been your greatest challenge in responding to disaster on a regional level?
Identifying, utilising and sharing information across language barriers is a significant challenge through all my experiences. For example, immediate responders are the ones who often have the greatest knowledge of the situation and how to handle it. However, it can be a challenge to share this knowledge from partners from other countries. In terms of challenge, I often find that we may need to have more field personnel with managerial skill. But, with many knowledge management skills available, it should also enhance the capacity of field personnel. Our field officer partners sometimes has difficulties to share their experience with a wider audience. This can have an effect on the knowledge transfer in the field and back to higher levels, as field responders often hold significant insights and experiences that should be raised with all other parties.
What challenges do you see related to disaster coordination in the region?
It can be a challenge to ensure aligned understandings between the support we are providing and the expectations of our recipients. This can be particularly heightened during disaster responses and requires strong communication, mutual understanding and personal approach.
What are some of the cross-cutting challenges you have faced?
Gender balance in teams deployed for fieldwork remains a challenge, I think. For example, I have previously been deployed in a team of 10 individuals and I was the only woman. However, I have previously been deployed in a team of four with three of those team members being women, so there is scope for better balance. This issue needs further attention in our region as it can have an impact on the work – whether we realise it or not.
With so many deployments, you are clearly used to working intensively in the field. What are your self-care tips for handling stress and pressure?
I fully believe it is best to make sure that you are able to take care of yourself before you attempt to take care of others in a disaster situation. This is a significant part of preparation for field deployment, and people have different ways of ensuring they are ready, as well as how they maintain their health in the field. I personally like to ensure I have a little downtime wherever I go and have some light entertainment to enjoy while I rest. In a technological world, having movies to watch or music to listen to is quite easy, and this is what I do to enjoy my down time when I can get some.
As you’ve been engaged in the ACE Programme, what do you see as the importance and meaning of good leadership?
Being a good leader means knowing the strengths and weakness of people that I work alongside and making sure that I do my best to identify gaps, weaknesses and room for improvement in a team. It is also important to work with people to improve people to lessen their weaknesses and increase their strengths. Being a good leader is also not just telling people what to do but working with them to achieve the goals.
So, what would you like to remind readers about in relation to the humanitarian sector?
I would remind everyone that being a humanitarian worker means you must remember to be a human. We can’t just work through systems and by protocols alone, but we must use our empathy and remember that we all are humans, and don’t forget to keep in mind to enjoy every process. There might be ups and downs in every operation. Not necessary with the good intention to help the process will then be smooth all the way. Yet manage the expectation and try the best you can to achieve the objectives accordingly
Written by : Ina Rachmawati | Photo : Private Collection
DELSA CAMP AGUINALDO
FIRST YEAR SUCCESS
Moving away from the usual Other Side focus of ASEAN disaster management individuals, this Volume takes a look into one the region’s most influential disaster management projects – the DELSA satellite warehouse in the Philippines – as it celebrates its first anniversary since opening in 2019.
The Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) is an integral part of the AHA Centre’s operations, and is central to the Centre’s efforts to implement disaster management under the “One ASEAN, One Response” vision. July 2019 saw the launching of the second satellite warehouse in Camp Aguinaldo, the Philippines, which coincided with the beginning of disaster awareness month in the nation. The development of the facility, and the satellite warehouse system, aims to serve as a network of emergency stockpiles located across the ASEAN region.
Since its launch, the warehouse has stood to support increased speed and scale of disaster response efforts through the use of various innovations, with the stockpile warehouse system ensuring relief items are now closer to disaster-prone countries. This allows for increased predictability of ASEAN’s response efforts, which forms a primary element for an overall improvement in the credibility of ASEAN disaster response implementation.
The development and operation of the satellite warehouse has been strongly supported by the Government of the Philippines, including the initial allocation of the dedicated location inside the Armed Forces of the Philippines Logistics Command Premises, Camp General Emilio, in Quezon City. The government has also worked to co-manage the warehouse stockpile with the AHA Centre, specifically through the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).
Within one year of its launch, the DELSA satellite warehouse in Camp Aguinaldo has served its purpose by mobilising USD 90,000 worth of relief items to disaster situations. These relief items include a Mobile Storage Unit and 5,000 Personal Hygiene Kits, that were distributed as part of the nation’s COVID-19 response during March–April 2020.
The DELSA programme is continuously supported by the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), with the warehouse development across both the Philippines and Thailand evidencing the ongoing strength in partnerships and collaboration that has been developed by the AHA Centre throughout its years of operations in the ASEAN region.
Written by : Ina Rachmawati | Photo : AHA Centre
Rahmawati Husein is the Deputy Chairperson of the Muhammadiyah Disaster Management Centre (MDMC) in Indonesia, which is a disaster management and humanitarian-focused organisation that stems from one of Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisations – Muhammadiyah. The AHA Centre spoke to Ms Husein about the organisation’s beginnings, and her own views on the state of disaster management in the ASEAN region.
Ms Husein has been with the MDMC since its initial foundation, which came about after she was sent to Aceh by Muhammadiyah to support the distribution and monitoring of relief items after the earthquake and tsunami in 2004. Ms Husein remained involved with the recovery efforts in Aceh, and then as other natural disasters continued to occur – such as the earthquakes in Yogyakarta and Sumatera – members of Muhammadiyah were increasingly engaged in response and relief efforts. Finally, in 2010, the MDMC was formally established, allowing the members to increase capability and opportunity to support disaster efforts across Indonesia. Rahmawati Husein was designated as the Deputy Chairperson at that time, and has maintained the role for the best part of a decade.
Over the years the MDMC has expanded its presence and engagement, and has even taken on roles responding to disasters across the ASEAN region. “The MDMC deployed a team to the Philippines in response to the Typhoon Haiyan in 2013” Ms Husein explains. “Also, we were engaged in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Myanmar during 2016-2017, together with other organisations from Indonesia.” She highlights the appreciation and welcoming approach by local governments towards the MDMC in these situations, and believes that this allowed her team to evidence their role within regional disaster and humanitarian action.
Moving on to what she has experienced from a regional disaster management perspective, Ms Husein highlights the strong and improved coordination amongst ASEAN Member States. “At times of disaster we always work together” she states. She also recognises the role and value of the AHA Centre, and highlights the organisation’s critical position coordinating relief items and activities in responding to disaster. According to Ms Husein, this value was increasingly visible during the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami response in 2018.
It is a lifelong passion for humanitarian activity that drives Ms Husein, and even led her to complete her PhD in Disaster Management. She continues to remain engaged with the MDMC and the region in disaster management activities.
“Due to the region being prone to natural disaster, engaging in humanitarian action remains significantly important”.
Written by : Moch Syifa and William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
The AHA Centre’s own Risdianto Irawan – or Risdi as we know him – was first drawn to the disaster management field after feeling the huge earthquake that led to the 2004 tsunami, as he undertook his chemical engineering studies in Medan, Indonesia. Risdi recalls the significant increases in casualties being announced, and as numbers ticked over into 100,000 souls he decided to determine his path towards helping communities affected by disaster.
It was in these early years that Risdi realised the increasing need for information technology and computer programming within disaster management, as he took on various roles within IT and database work, finding himself working on such tasks in Aceh during 2007 as the region continued with its reconstruction and recovery phases. After numerous roles, Risdi moved to Jakarta and joined Mercy Corps, finding himself involved with the Indonesian Response Team and engaged in more direct disaster response. “I found myself working up into management and coordination during this time” he remembers, “then also having the opportunity to study courses in Africa, Jordan, Singapore, and also the Emerging Leadership Programme through Portland University’s School of Business”.
As Risdi’s work became more focused towards IT leadership and coordination, he made a move to the AHA Centre within a year of finishing studies at Portland University. He highlights the significant difference between his early roles and more recently, in particular the direct field engagement that has changed over time. “With organisations like Mercy Corps we had direct engagement in disaster, as we were in the field and responding” Risdi says. “As the AHA Centre works at the regional level and coordinates response, we find ourselves more often within National Disaster Management Organisations, helping and supporting their work in responding directly to communities.” Risdi notes the difference in preparation and engagement – in particular the contrast between stress management in fieldwork as compared to diplomacy approaches required at a coordination level.
Risdi has, however, continued to be challenged and engaged in response as part of his work with the AHA Centre. As an ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) member, Risdi has been deployed to disasters to support teams during disasters such as the 2018 Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami, the 2020 Jakarta floods, and also to engage with the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) 2019 exercise in Thailand. While he understands his role has changed, Risdi does believe that “while my contribution may be small working on Information Communication Technology (ICT) from the office, it still supports and has a great impact to those in the field”.
Throughout his experience, Risdi has witnessed the growing importance of ICT for disaster management, and particularly as part of the ASEAN regional context. He highlights its importance, both through simple yet integral instances such as telecommunication access during response, alongside the utilisation of Big Data in detecting, warning and information dissemination systems. Part of Risdi’s current work is determining how to further support the ASEAN-ERAT responders with modern and resilient telecommunications, and this is an area that forms a key focus for the AHA Centre’s recently published ICT Roadmap. Risdi also highlights the ongoing identification of Big Data’s extended role in disaster management, through its utilisation across disaster analysis, disaster prediction, and then into prescription. Risdi finishes by stating that this type of ICT work is not only for the AHA Centre and the ERAT programme, but that “I also hope this work can be utilised and have a positive impact in the future for other humanitarian actors, as well as ASEAN communities themselves”.
Written : by : William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
INTERNSHIP AT THE AHA CENTRE
Callista Sandi joined the AHA Centre as an Intern in the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme after completing her first year of her International Relations Bachelor degree at the University of Groningen, Netherlands, and will continue studying through Tokyo International University. In this volume’s Other Side article, Callista shares with us her experience and insights after eleven months with the AHA Centre team.
I have always been interested in the humanitarian field, especially disaster management and disaster diplomacy. As an International Relations student studying International Politics, Law and Economics, this opportunity provided me a deeper understanding on the importance of multilateral coordination between ASEAN Member States. The internship increased my connection to my own country by understanding Indonesia’s disaster management capabilities at the national level, as well as our contribution and role in strengthening regional capacity. The internship experience also complimented my educational learning objectives by analysing disasters through disaster diplomacy, that urges disaster-related activities to remove diplomatic barriers, in particular for humanitarian purposes.
Being an intern at the AHA Centre also enhanced my understanding about the communities and policy makers within ASEAN disaster management, and the efforts of the ASEAN region to develop future-ready disaster management mechanisms. It is a great example for me as an undergraduate student to understand, contextualise and analyse such disaster management mechanisms within the ASEAN context. The programme serves as a strong platform for young leaders who want to push their ideas and who enjoy interactive discussions on disaster management.
One of the most interesting aspects of being an intern in the ACE Programme was the opportunity to interact with experts from the sector, which provided me a more holistic understanding as I was able to learn from their own experiences. This ensured that my internship moved beyond understanding only technical concepts, and allowed me to engage more widely within the disaster management community.
Being part of the ACE Programme allowed me to understand disaster management from various lenses, and even more importantly from a youth perspective. One of my favourite aspects of the ACE Programme is that it provides us as the future generation input into the disaster management sector, and a fresh voice within the AHA Centre itself. These fresh voices and views are nurtured in the ACE Programme, that is undertaking efforts to re-design its framework to even better prepare emerging disaster management leaders to be future ready. The ACE Programme is funded by Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).
But what does it mean, what does it require, and who should be involved in this idea of ‘future-ready’? Through this experience I learned that being future-ready means bridging the technology gap to disaster management. It’s time for disaster management to be more aware of the opportunities’ technology has to offer. With the evolution of the disaster management sector, future utilisation of technology will be more dominant, and therefore our region must completely open itself to engaging technology within all aspects of disaster management.
Written : by : Callista Sandi | Photo : AHA Centre
Jommel Merano is the National Logistics Officer for the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA), based in one of the two new DELSA satellite warehouses – located in the Philippines. He joined the AHA Centre team in late 2018 with two decades of experience in the disaster management sector, including working with the Philippines Office of Civil Defense (1999-2012) and the Philippine Red Cross (2012-2015). Drawn to the humanitarian field by the opportunity to further support communities around him, Jommel says the work brings him pride and joy. He feels that continuing such work with the AHA Centre allows him to play his noble part supporting his country and the region in the face of disaster.
Jommel first engaged with the AHA Centre in its early years when he was part of the second ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) training, and has since been deployed to six disaster missions – five within the Philippines and one in Indonesia. He has felt lucky to continue contributing to developing future ASEAN-ERAT members as a facilitator and mentor during the 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Courses. Jommel has also participated in a range of regional activities, and has recently completed the ASEAN-ERAT Level 2 Advance Course on Humanitarian Logistics.
“Such deployments and trainings continue to provide me an in depth understanding of ASEAN regional disaster mechanisms”
– Jommel Merano
Joining the AHA Centre through his role in the Philippines DELSA satellite warehouse, Jommel recognised the great opportunity to take part in the historic establishment and expansion of the DELSA system. Not only did it give him the opportunity to be part of something new and exciting, but also a chance to further engage and support not only the Philippines but also the other ASEAN Member States who are so well supported by the DELSA mechanism. More specifically, the role sees Jommel responsible for managing activities related to mobilisation, monitoring and maintenance of AHA Centre’s relief stock items that are stored at the satellite warehouse facility.
Jommel’s experience both recently with the DELSA programme and more broadly within the disaster management system as a whole has given him some clear and relevant insights on the future of disaster management for ASEAN and its people. He applies this to his current role when he states that “humanitarian logistics has always been an important factor in disaster relief operations”. “Now that the AHA Centre has established DELSA satellite warehouses in the ASEAN region, deployment of ASEAN relief items will become easier, and it will increase the speed and scale of ASEAN response” he continues.
“The commitment and engagement of ASEAN Member State National Disaster Management Organisations towards humanitarian logistics will surely result in increased capacity throughout ASEAN disaster management practices, which is strongly in line with the vision of One ASEAN One Response.”
Written by : William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
AHA CENTRE INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE (DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS)
Recently the AHA Centre has been supported by Justin Chin, undertaking an internship on disaster monitoring and analysis. The following article is an insight into the experience from Justin, including the experiences and learnings he gained during the time.
Before I embarked on my disaster monitoring and analysis internship with the AHA Centre, the most closely related experiences and knowledge I could rely on was a passion in serving and empowering communities through volunteer work, using scientific knowledge on natural disasters from my undergraduate studies. My goal for this internship was to explore this field of humanitarian assistance and disaster management that was essentially entirely new to me. And as I look back on my internship journey, I can say what an eye-opening ride and valuable experience it has been!
The range of opportunities to learn and perform can be diverse in the AHA Centre, if only one is open and willing to venture even when the opportunity may lie outside of your skillset and speciality. This also means that the internship is never boring or repetitive – an exciting prospect for those who dislike mundane or office-bound work! I am glad that I approached the opportunities offered with an open mind to learn and gain experiences beyond my core role scope, even if they potentially distracted me from my everyday work. Of the many experiences and tasks worked on throughout my internship, I will focus on three of the highlights here.
Firstly, the 12th ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) Induction Course. It was a privilege to learn from experienced ASEAN-ERAT members and work alongside these veterans, who shared their stories and knowledge and patiently guided us through the intricacies of disaster response based on their unique perspectives from past deployments. As part of the exercise control team, I helped facilitate the 72-hour disaster response simulation, which gave me an overview and understanding of the simulation exercise progress and the preparation work that went into it even before the course began; a taste of running such a course and exercise. I also saw first-hand the bigger picture of how all the smaller segments of work come together to achieve the purpose and effectiveness of the ASEAN-ERAT operations on the ground. Ultimately, it was fulfilling to see all 23 course participants become qualified ASEAN-ERAT members who can respond to any natural disaster in ASEAN within 24 hours, and heartening to know that ASEAN has such an established regional response system.
Secondly, I got to contribute, through my own research project, to forming a country-specific statistical basis for recommendations on the AHA Centre’s response actions at the ASEAN regional level. This also increased my understanding of the recent history of natural disasters and responses in the ASEAN region.
Thirdly, as part of the AHA Centre’s response to the Lao PDR floods in September 2019, I monitored the disaster impacts and needs, contributed to the analysis work, and co-produced daily situation reports. It was a stressful and tiring period, with difficulties in obtaining quick and reliable information on the disaster situation, impacts and humanitarian needs. Flexibility was required to deal with the unpredictable changes as the disaster response unfolded. At the same time, this proved useful for honing my skills in information management and my understanding of the ASEAN regional mechanisms and frameworks in emergency response and disaster management, including how the AHA Centre transforms to an Emergency Response Organisation structure, and one of the AHA Centre’s core operations and purpose of existence – emergency response.
Justin Chin is final year student from Nanyang Technological University, majoring in Environmental Earth Systems Science.
Written : by Justin Chin : | Photo : AHA Centre
MR RAY SHIRKHODAI
Mr Ray Shirkhodai has spent the last 20 years of his career developing science and technology for disaster reduction. He is currently the Executive Director of the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) – a global science and technology centre for disaster risk reduction and intelligence managed by the University of Hawaii – and a steady partner of the AHA Centre since its early years. Ray was the primary architect of DisasterAWARE, PDC’s advanced multi-hazard early warning and decision support platform, powering PDC’s mobile and internet applications, as well as AHA Centre’s Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS). Ray has also led PDC’s support of major international disaster relief operations both at home and abroad. With a background in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, he has been at the forefront of disaster-related technology since joining the PDC in 2002, and after a career in software engineering dating back to the 1980’s.
Originally serving as Chief Information Officer (CIO,) and then Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ray became the Executive Director of PDC in 2007, by which time he had already began his engagement with disaster management in the ASEAN region. He remembers those early days, including the 2004 launch of the ASEAN Regional Programme on Disaster Management (ARPDM), when pledging PDC’s partnership to the regional disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts. “My personal engagements with ASEAN have included direct involvement with the 10-member NDMO ICT Gap analysis, establishing the Disaster Information Sharing and Communications Network (DISCNet), the first AADMER Strategic Work Programme 2010-2015, Interim AHA Centre ICT Gap Analysis and proposed position staffing, and of course, DMRS deployments, just to name few,” Ray said.
Ray also highlights partnerships with individual nations as important, citing PDC collaborations and agreements as an integral part of the overall regional approach. “We’ve had decade-long partnerships in DRR with many of the Member States, including DisasterAWARE deployments in Thailand (2006-2008), Viet Nam (2012-2017), Indonesia (2014-2019), along with other risk assessments and DRR-related engagements with those Member States as well as with Myanmar and the Philippines. We’ve also collaborated very closely with Singapore to deliver various trainings, and build DRR capacity.”
He also highlights current ongoing programmes with ASEAN, including enhancing DMRS and Information Communication Technology (ICT) adoption and DRR application usage in the region, working both directly with Member States, as well as with ASEAN through the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the AHA Centre.
Ray also has a lot to say regarding the impressive advances he has seen in the ASEAN region – both within individual Member States and the region as a whole. “ASEAN and its Member States have made significant individual (national) and collective (regional) strides in information technology adoptions related to DRR within a relatively short 15-year timeframe” he said. “The ratification of AADMER, along with strategic development plans have helped the nations and the region to steadily invest in, and improve usage of new technologies for DRR purposes.”
When questioned regarding the importance of ICT for DRR, Ray is strong and passionate in response.
“Technology can help us save more lives, faster. I believe that the trends for adoption and utilisation of AI and ICT are destined to accelerate with the commoditisation of ICT and related services brought about by cloud-computing” he said. “It is therefore, most important to invest in the development of DRR applications and content to influence the effectiveness of DRR policies and practices within the region.”
Written : by William Shea : | Photo : AHA Centre