INTERVIEW WITH DIPO SUMMA,
RESOURCE MOBILISATION MANAGER AT THE AHA CENTRE
LACER’s Johanna Rixer sat down for a chat with Dipo Summa, Resource Mobilisation Manager at the AHA Centre and focal point for the LACER project, to discuss challenges, development and current priorities.
To what extent do differing capabilities among ASEAN Member States create challenges in effective regional response?
“The different capacities of the Member States is certainly a challenge in realising One ASEAN, One Response, Mr Summa says. The ambition to respond collectively as one is one of the biggest challenges, given that all Member States have different capacities. Even if the intention is shared by all. Having said that, there is a silver lining, a bright spot in the fact that the Member States already are capable to respond on an individual country level. It’s a matter of bringing the capacity under the regional umbrella. This is definitely a possibility for improvement within the next years of the AHA Centre’s development.”
What would you consider the best possible development of the AJDRP modules* in the future? In what ways could these be better aligned with current conditions and needs?
“The objective of the response plan is to be able to mobilise ASEAN resources, for immediate activation and deployment. If we can achieve that, we can find real satisfaction. We are truly working towards that goal and we need to have the resources and commitment of the Member States to achieve this. Right now we are in a quite good place with 5 Member States who have registered their assets, but it is not yet tested. This is our next step, to test and to see how it actually looks in practice.”
How can ASEAN deal with the growing differences in risk profiles among ASEAN Member States?
“Many of the aspects are beyond the control of the AHA Centre… what we can do is to focus on risk awareness, raising awareness and providing advice, rather than dealing with the issue of risk profiles as there are so many components that affect this. One mandate of the AHA Centre is to facilitate support when a disaster happens, and this can really help mitigate the disaster.”
How can AHA and ASEAN best assist Member States that face a recurring pattern of weather-related hazards including typhoons and flooding, along with associated displacement of populations? For instance, the Philippines during the period 2010−2021, reported more than 49 million people displaced, mostly triggered by storms. Is this a particular gap that ASEAN can help address?
“With regards to a recurring pattern of weather related hazards and climate change, here we are still focused on preparedness and response, capacity building programmes for member states and anticipatory actions. In this field there is room to do more… to develop a predictability system, supporting the Member States. This is also one of the priorities for the future.”
What do you see as other priorities for the AHA Centre in the coming 5 years?
“For me the AHA Centre will have several important priorities in the coming years. First, as outlined by the ASEAN Vision 2025, the AHA Centre should facilitate ASEAN responding collectively as one beyond the region. By 2024, the AHA Centre will conduct a feasibility study to create better understanding what this means. Secondly, the AHA Centre should continue to support innovation and implementation of new technologies in disaster management, in particular taking advantage of the continuous development in the field of big data analysis and artificial intelligence. Thirdly, the ASEAN Vision 2025 also mentioned the ambition to become a global leader in disaster management by leveraging through the long experience of the region in managing disasters in the region. To support this vision, the AHA Centre aims to become a regional knowledge hub on disaster management, where stakeholders can come to look for data, information and knowledge.”
* (deployable assets registered under the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan)
Written by: Johanna Rixer | Photo Credit: AHA Centre
INTERVIEW WITH LACER RISK ASSESSMENT EXPERT
DR. EMMANUEL RAJU
The AHA Centre held the Public Launch and Webinar of the 3rd edition of the ASEAN Risk Monitor and Disaster Management Review (ARMOR) on 11 October 2022, supported by the European Union (EU). The Levering ASEAN Capacities for Emergency Response (LACER) project contributed to the launch webinar.
The theme was the intersection of disasters and pandemic. Against the backdrop of the health crisis endured globally as a result of COVID-19, the articles highlight how the pandemic affected disaster management policymaking across the ASEAN region. Of particular interest is how ASEAN has adapted its disaster management tools in response to the pandemic, including innovative methods, information and communication technology that can be used to improve the analysis of real-time data and the cross-border provision of aid during disasters, in anticipation of future pandemics.
LACER risk expert, Dr. Emmanuel Raju, participated as a panellist commenting on the article “Disaster and Pandemic: The Exacerbating Effects of COVID-19 to ASEAN’s Disaster Riskscape” by the AHA Centre Disaster Monitoring and Analysis team and Pacific Disaster Center. Queried on how the pandemic had impacted disaster management in Europe, Dr. Raju noted a number of challenges and opportunities for learning which have emerged. A key learning in the context of natural hazards is the importance of talking about vulnerability as a central issue in disaster risk management because in many places, it is very often the same communities, the same geographic locations, where vulnerable populations are repeatedly impacted by disasters or have seen worsening effects over and over.
The pandemic has also forced us to revisit the link between Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and sustainable development.
“If we truly want to achieve disaster risk reduction, we also need to think about the sustainable development goals because at the end of the day disaster risk reduction is about making sure that we have risk-informed development processes.”
LACER Risk Assessment Expert, Dr. Emmanuel Raju
LACER’s Johanna Rixer caught up with Dr. Raju after the event and posed some further questions about learning.
How can academic learning best contribute to developing the capacity of an actor like the AHA Centre that is focused heavily on humanitarian response?
“This is an important question. Most professionals from academia would like to see impact, not only theoretically but to be able to go from theory to practice. We should use the experience of academia and put into practice what we learn. The discussions we had during the webinar are one example of such an opportunity. We also had a very interesting and fruitful workshop within the LACER project looking at risk from a scientific standpoint, where we had participants from the EU and the AHA Centre. The focus was to dig deeper on how we could use science to communicate risks in our day-to-day work. ”
How does the EU deal with differences in risk profiles among its members?
“It’s not easy. Different members have different interests. In this context it is important to continue to talk about impacts of climate change and extreme weather, as well as to nudge political actors to have these issues high up on the agenda. Disaster vulnerability is central to this discussion – both within the EU and the ASEAN. There are also lessons exchanged and learned between EU and ASEAN. Some factors continue to be central to the advancement of DRM in both Europe and ASEAN, such as applying lessons learned to leadership, keeping a focus on vulnerability, etc.”
What do you see as the priorities of ASEAN and the AHA Centre in the coming 5 years?
“Promoting localisation of efforts in disaster risk management, to allow a more robust and timely response and risk reduction efforts, will be of great significance to ASEAN over the next few years. And of course post-disaster, there is the issue of promoting recovery that is green and sustainable.”
Written by: Johanna Rixer | Photo Credit: AHA Centre, NORDRESS
LEADERS TALK: AHA CENTRE EXECUTIVE (ACE) PROGRAMME BATCH 7
“DEVELOPING THE FUTURE LEADERS OF ASEAN IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT”
PROGRAMME BATCH 7
The AHA Centre organised the Leaders Talk as part of the ACE Programme Batch 7 on 29 November 2021. The Leaders Talk is a regular activity under the ACE Programme. For this edition of Leaders Talk, the AHA Centre invited Ms. Liz Hughes, Chief Executive of Map Action, to share her ‘leader’s stories’. One of the ACE Programme’s Participants, Ms. Siti Joriahati Johari binti Johari, is glad to share and reflect her experience with us.
KUDOS to the AHA Centre’s “Leaders Talk” Event!
Thank you so much, Ms. Liz Hughes, Chief Executive of Map Action, for being an inspirational speaker. You are awesome! It was one of such a great, amazing and very inspiring leaders talk event. I believed that all of the ACE Programme Batch 7 participants and the audience learned so much from it.
It was an honour having Ms. Liz at the leaders talk session virtually, where she had shared her stories based on her professional work journey and experience in humanitarian development across the globe.
As she said, “Lean your compass north and trust it. It will guide you in many good ways in your leadership journey. As Chief Executive, I only shine because of what our team achieved, our amazing volunteer team and also our staff”. It was fantastic and really motivated me.
I found that the Leaders Talk was a very beneficial and successful event. It meets the theme of the event, “Developing the Future Leaders of ASEAN in Disaster Management”, and the ultimate goal of the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme is to prepare the disaster management professionals to be the future leaders with expertise in humanitarian assistance operations and in strengthening the operationalisation of ‘One ASEAN, One Response’.
As a guest speaker, she successfully rocked the boat and woke up her audience with a meaningful and indeed inspiring leadership sharing session. It had a great turnout and a lot of positive feedback following the event, especially during the Question and Answer session. Overall a very engaging afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed the Leaders Talk. It was the most interesting and inspiring Leaders Talk session that I have found.
This event also marked the final week of the fully online module of the ACE Programme Batch 7 since 28 July 2021. Despite the current situation of COVID-19, the AHA Centre team is still committed to continuing its efforts in delivering World Class education for disaster management professionals in the ASEAN region. The team has worked tirelessly with partners to transform a large part of the ACE Programme into a 19-week online module. A very interactive discussion and lesson, I can say throughout participating in this online learning.
On behalf of the ACE Programme Batch 7 participants, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to all great mentors during our online learning journey, especially to AHA Centre and the Government of Japan, as well as the Government of New Zealand and the United States, the United Nations Agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, GNS Science, AADMER Partnership Group, RedR Australia, US Forest Service, and Academic Institutions such as the Middlebury Institute for International Studies at Monterey (MIIS), Asian Institute of Management (AIM) and the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies (APCSS). Kudos to the AHA Centre Team and all great mentors! Thank you for giving us this opportunity.
Written by : Siti Joriahati Johari binti Johari, Disaster Management Officer, National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), ACE Programme Batch Seven – Brunei Darussalam | Photo Credit: doc. Siti Joriahati Johari binti Johari & Map ACtion
KIRAN MAULANA HUSNI
Becoming an intern at the AHA Centre was an unforgettable experience for me. During my three-month communications internship programme, I learned how the Centre manages disasters and provides humanitarian assistance in the region. I am certain that the knowledge I gained from the internship programme will be very useful in my future career development.
My name is Kiran Maroep Maulana Husni, I am 22 years old, a student at Telkom University, Indonesia, majoring in International ICT Business. I was born and raised in Tasikmalaya, West Java, Indonesia, but currently live in Serpong, Tangerang Selatan.
My journey as a communications intern at the AHA Centre started in June 2021 when I saw an internship advertised on the AHA Centre’s website. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to gain experience working in a regional organisation. Realising that disaster management was a new field for me, I challenged myself to apply for that position. To be honest it felt like a gamble for me applying for an internship with an organisation and in a field with which I had no previous experience. Eventually, I submitted my application and waited for word back.
In July, I received an email from the AHA Centre asking me whether I was still interested in the programme, I replied, “Yes, definitely!” Long story short, I was invited to an online interview and a few weeks later I was told that I was hired as a communications intern and my starting date was 2nd August.
As a communications intern, under the supervision of Mr. Moch Syifa, the Communications Officer, my main responsibilities were assisting in conducting media monitoring and social media planning. Social media planning was not a new field for me as I had experience from my previous organisation. However, again, planning social media content on disaster-management issues was a big challenge. At the beginning, I had to conduct online research on disaster-management issues in ASEAN to broaden my knowledge. I learned many new specific and very technical terms during my research, which was a bit stressful.
Aside from assisting in social media planning and media monitoring, I also had the opportunity to join in several important events, such as the opening ceremony of Batch Seven of the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme, the Fourth EU-ASEAN Cooperation and Scholarship Day, and other meetings with partners, consultants and suppliers. During the meetings, I learned a lot about how the Centre works together with other partners and stakeholders.
Managing communications, particularly for a regional organisation like the AHA Centre, is not easy. I discovered that mapping the audience is significant in order to develop strategies and content for social media. From the media monitoring activity, I learned that studying conversations on social media and in mainstream media was crucial to understanding whether our communications strategies were well implemented or needed some improvements.
Finally, I would like to thank the AHA Centre for giving me opportunities and presenting me with challenges during my internship programme, it has given me strength and widened my knowledge. Thank you Mr. Syifa, as my supervisor, for being patient as you accompanied me on my learning journey. The AHA Centre expanded my knowledge and experience, especially given that I was new to disaster management. I would recommend that other students also apply for internship programmes at the Centre, since they will gain a lot of precious knowledge.
Written by : Kiran Maulana Husni | Photo Credit: Doc. Kiran Husni
LAWRENCE ANTHONY DIMAILIG
At first glance, Lawrence Anthony Dimailig, “LA” to his friends and colleagues, could still pass for a university student. But his youthful looks belie his years of experience in disaster and risk management, his passion for it and how he regards it as his life’s calling.
After seeing the devastation to life and property that Super Typhoon Haiyan left in its wake in 2013, in Tacloban, Philippines, “I made a pact with myself. That was the time I felt that I’d dedicate my life to disaster management. This should be the last time I should see something like that,” says LA. Only military planes were allowed in and out of the island after the typhoon struck in November 2013. “I was aboard the first set of C130s that landed in Tacloban City.” A few days later, he found himself in the back of a military truck riding through the streets, and he remembers it clearly to this day. “You couldn’t distinguish debris from bodies on the road. We passed by what looked to me like a pile of garbage covered with newspapers. As we went past it, the newspaper flew away, revealing the body of a child, about 7-10 years of age. It broke my heart. I vowed then that I would devote my life to saving people’s lives, that this should be the last time I should see something like that. I made a pact with myself that I’d dedicate my life to disaster management. I had an epiphany.”
These were the important experiences that led LA to pursue humanitarian work and disaster management. But his journey in this field started much earlier, while he was pursuing a degree in geography. He developed his skills at mapping and spatial analysis, which eventually led him to humanitarian work. “Mapping is my craft,” he says. “After university, I entered into public service in May 2013. Five months into my first job, I was asked to map all evacuation centres in Zamboanga after the military siege, then again in Bohol when the big earthquake struck the island. I was tasked with mapping all evacuation centres, doing some logistical planning so that the delivery of relief items was efficient.” This was the first time he used his skills for disaster management. This was the point when LA realised that his craft of making maps could actually touch people’s lives. And that was just the start.
LA joined the AHA Centre in January 2019 as a Disaster Monitoring and Analysis Officer. Seven months later, he was promoted to Assistant Director for Disaster Monitoring and Analysis. “It opened up new perspectives to me. The AHA Centre is a coordinating centre that has the regional advantage and unique opportunity of linking one country to another. We do things on a broader scale. We have the time to step back, see the bigger picture, propose new things to make disaster management better and improve the knowledge base.”
He adds that there is more access to resources and higher technology, but realises that a disaster response has to be contextualised. “Things that can work in the Philippines may not work in Indonesia. There are some things that can work in a certain way and you can import knowledge from one country to another.” At the AHA Centre, LA feels he can also help facilitate learning. His first field deployment as ASEAN-ERAT was to Sulawesi in 2018, and his most recent was in 2019 to Lao PDR before the pandemic broke out.
In between humanitarian work, LA finds time to pursue another passion, free diving. Initially, the blue waters of the sea evoked thoughts of the endless deep and its unknown denizens. But all that changed when he took up free diving upon the advice of a close friend. “I had to train first. I went to Apo Reef in the Philippines the first time I did it and saw a huge sea turtle. Wow! The world beneath the waterline was so majestic. It mesmerised me.”
While his new passion led him to discover life beneath the sea, it also exposed him to the destruction humans have caused through garbage and plastic. “I saw creatures wrapped in plastic. We are destroying the environment with the deeds of the bad and the inaction of good people. Now, when we go free diving, every dive is a clean-up dive.” LA is hopeful every time he visits coastal communities that he can get to talk to locals on subjects like community-based waste management systems, and with other people who are equally passionate about preserving the environment.
LA is fortunate to have discovered his calling early on. He is excited for what is in store with humanitarian work through the enabling power of technology. “The AHA Centre has the ‘minds’ to build and impart more knowledge, develop artificial intelligence and machine learning towards finding solutions.” Through the AHA Centre, he hopes that ASEAN countries will become self-reliant, stronger and more resilient in dealing with whatever challenges the future holds.
Written by : Judith Garcia Meese | Photo Credit : Lawrence Anthony Dimailig
INTRODUCING CHARLES SILVA
LACER PROJECT TEAM LEADER
The AHA Center welcomed in August a new team leader for the LACER project, Mr Charles Silva of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB).
He has previously implemented capacity-building projects in Southeast Asia, a region that he “respects and holds dear”, but the LACER project offers a big leap in scope, given the significant number of people served by the project and its partner institution the AHA Centre. The ASEAN countries have a combined population of over 650 million people and collectively face growing risks from natural disasters and their increasing impact. Recurring earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, flooding and pandemics take a big toll on the region. For this reason, Charles sought the LACER role as he sees himself solidly contributing to addressing this widening humanitarian challenge and the urgent need to reduce the scale of damage, injury and economic loss caused by disasters.
Charles is well used to working in different countries and cultures, a capability which will prove very useful in the ASEAN region, which encompasses many different ethnicities, languages, cultures and histories. His background combines more than 15 years of experience leading initiatives in humanitarian response and capacity-strengthening in disaster risk reduction and management (DRR/DRM) and this should greatly assist him in making the LACER project a success.
What attracted Charles to the AHA Centre was its dedicated team of qualified staff who currently deliver services across a number of key functions of disaster preparedness, response and recovery. He is looking forward to building on this and helping the AHA Centre team to achieve improved capacity in these areas and indeed over the broader range of project areas made accessible by LACER, while in parallel using the links created by the project to strengthen institutional ties between ASEAN bodies and their counterparts in the EU. Charles is convinced that this cooperation will provide a big boost to the overall capacity of ASEAN’s DRR/DRM strategies.
Like the MSB, each national disaster management organisation across the ASEAN region has a unique way of working and a national context in which it operates. According to Charles, this makes cooperation very complex but at the same time rewarding because each agency can contribute something special and important to the regional effort. “I am really eager and interested to expand my learning of how these national agencies undertake key functions such as preparedness and mitigation to understand their potential contribution to the regional capacity,” Charles said.
When asked what he most looks forward to in the coming weeks, he replied that he had a very hands-on approach to his work, so that above all, he was looking forward to quickly deploying to Jakarta and meeting his counterparts in the AHA Centre in person. He also wants to become more familiar with the team here and ongoing activities, as well as launching new activities under the project.
“We have a lot of exciting initiatives coming up and I am eager to roll these out together with our highly capable partners across the ASEAN region”
The father of two children, Olivier, 8, and Leah, who is still a toddler, Charles and his wife Gitu have their home base in Stockholm, but have been on the road for many years, working in humanitarian contexts such as Myanmar and Iraq. The family spent several years in Nepal, where both parents engaged in rebuilding infrastructure damaged by the devastating earthquakes of 2015. They live an active lifestyle and enjoy skiing, sailing and hiking together.
Written by : LACER Project team & Michael Hillary Hegarty | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
AN INTERNSHIP STORY OF
KNOWING IS BETTER THAN NOT KNOWING
Before proceeding to the heart of the topic, it is proper that I introduce myself. My name is Yohanes Paulus, a graduate in International Relations from International University Liaison Indonesia (IULI). I was introduced to the field of disaster management in the form of a course taken during my studies back in 2018. Our class had the chance to visit the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB) building in Jalan Pramuka, Jakarta, on a field trip, during which we saw the AHA Centre’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and the BNPB’s museum, and were introduced to the basics of disaster management.
In all, I am honored that I was able to contribute constructively to the AHA Centre and its activities
Three years later and the world has changed so much since that visit. I was concerned that job opportunities would shrink during the COVID-19 pandemic, and initially I did not have any specific expectations about working in disaster management when I applied to the AHA Centre.
I was delighted that my application was accepted, especially since it was not long after I graduated. Starting out as an intern, I wanted to obtain real work experience in an international setting, and to really learn in practice how international organisations work. The work was indeed very challenging but, in return, I achieved what I aimed for and much more.
In my work supporting the Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Innovation Expo (HELiX) – held virtually in May 2021 – I discovered the complicated procedures and unique challenges in relation to connecting many disparate hosts and participants online. Technological know-how in conjunction with organisational and communication skills with fellow teammates and colleagues were the key. Having been involved in every step of the way, to see the event held successfully, with the constructive conversations and innovations that resulted from it, certainly was an unforgettable and rewarding experience.
More generally, I was also exposed to the workings of the AHA Centre and its DELSA network of warehouses for emergency supplies. I became aware of the scale at which the AHA Centre operates and the important role of its work, especially in these very uncertain times and no doubt well into the future, when humanitarian logistics and disaster responses will become increasingly important, especially in ASEAN. I saw how many of the lessons from HELiX, especially relating to clear and effective communications within organisations and the ability to efficiently manage time and tasks, are implemented on the ground. Most importantly, far from being overly focused and specialised, the experience gained from the internship also challenged me to be able to respond to any unexpected situations and needs, and to remain level-headed and alert at all times.
Complications can and do arise, and I made quite a few mistakes. Feeling intimidated or lacking confidence in one’s ability to handle the sheer scale of tasks is a normal reaction. The critical point here is not to let these difficulties prevent you from learning and adapting. Knowing is better than not knowing, and sometimes the only way to obtain knowledge is simply by doing, however imperfectly.
In all, I am honored that I was able to contribute constructively to the AHA Centre and its activities. I still have much to learn, and the experiences I gained during my time as an intern will certainly be a cherished part of my learning journey. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity, and I wish the best for the future of the AHA Centre, especially in its 10th anniversary year.
Written by : Yohanes Paulus, DELSA Intern January to July 2021 | Photo Credit : AHA Centre
Vol 74 – EU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE H.E. JOSEP BORRELL VISITED THE AHA CENTRE TO DEEPEN RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO REGIONS IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
EU HIGH REPRESENTATIVE
H.E. JOSEP BORRELL
VISITED THE AHA CENTRE TO DEEPEN RELATIONS BETWEEN THE TWO REGIONS IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
In the first visit by a VVIP after more than a year of working from home, on 3 June 2021 the AHA Centre had the honour of welcoming High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission, European Union (EU) H.E. Mr. Josep Borrell.
Arriving at the AHA Centre, Mr. Borrell was welcomed by Executive Director of the AHA Centre Ms. Adelina Kamal, Deputy Executive Director Mr. Arnel Capili, and staff of the AHA Centre. During his visit, Mr. Borrell had the opportunity to see how the AHA Centre’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) works during an emergency response. Other important information about the AHA Centre’s responses and activities in disaster management in the ASEAN region was also presented.
Mr. Borrell stated that his visit to the AHA Centre was important and informative as he had the opportunity to listen to the presentation of the valuable work that was done there. “The EU continues to provide capacity building to [the] AHA [Centre] and civil protection and emergency humanitarian assistance when disasters strike,” he said after the visit.
According to him, ASEAN and the EU share the same commitment to rules-based multilateralism. This is one of the reasons why he needed to visit ASEAN in the midst of the current pandemic.
“ASEAN is the nucleus around which inclusive forms of regional cooperation are built. Regional integration is a way to safeguard our respective ‘strategic autonomy’ for both of us,” H.E. Mr. Josep Borrell
stated in his official statement published by the EU website (https://eeas.europa.eu/)
Ms. Adelina stressed the significance of Mr. Borrell’s visit to the AHA Centre. Not only because it was the first VVIP visit hosted by the AHA Centre after more than one year working from home, but also because the EU is one of the biggest supporters of the AHA Centre through the Integrated Programme in Enhancing the Capacity of the AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanisms (EU SAHA) project. “EU support shaped the AHA Centre in our formative years. We look forward to working with the EU in our transformative years to come,” said Ms. Adelina.
The 45-minute visit was also attended by Ambassador of the EU to ASEAN H.E. Mr. Igor Driesmans; Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia Pacific, European External Action Service (EEAS); Mr. Nereo Penalver Garcia, Cabinet Member of the HRVP, EEAS; and Mr. Fabian Breuer, Senior Communication Advisor to HRVP, EEAS. During the visit, Mr. Borrell also discussed several important issues, including how to strengthen the partnership between the EU and the AHA Centre in disaster management and the humanitarian assistance sector.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : AHA Centre & europa.eu
This month The Column had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Martin Sjöholm, the Training and Exercise Expert of LACER. Martin worked as a paramedic before he joined the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) in 2000 as a medical coordinator. A member of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC), European Civil Protection Team (EUCPT) and the Red Cross, he has worked as a project manager in the humanitarian sector, being deployed to various disasters and humanitarian projects across the globe.
When asked why he chose to become a training and exercise expert, Mr. Martin explained that for a long time he had been engaged in training and exercises around the world and found it rewarding to see participants grow and understand the way forward. He was particularly drawn to ASEAN having previously worked there. Given the region’s propensity for disasters every year, he was as keen to learn from others as he was to teach about how different disasters should be handled. The LACER team’s enthusiasm also inspired him.
“It is rewarding to work with different partners, such as the AHA Centre and to learn their ways of working. Working as a European Civil Protection Team member around the world, I have knowledge and experience that I can share with the AHA Centre,”
For Martin, trainings and exercises are the key to achieving new ways of working and improving current practices, as participants can learn in a relatively relaxed environment, without the stress of major consequences. The most important component of the LACER project is information management. It is Marin’s belief that if the AHA Centre can be established as the main source of information during a disaster, this will have a beneficial effect in the affected country or region. Today, information travels very fast and it is essential to be on top of things when a disaster strikes and to have the right support in terms of personnel and equipment.
Martin has worked in the field for the last 15 years in disasters, conducting assessments and reporting. As a mentor for the Assessment Mission Training (AMC) in Cyprus every year he learned about how assessments should be performed, and training of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) is one of the prioritised sections he would like to work on. The ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX) is another priority.
As to what he hopes to achieve from the project, he emphasises mutual support.
“I hope to learn more about how the [countries in the] region support each other and how LACER can support this work to be more effective and precise,”
Implementing material and work from the European Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) into the AHA Centre is also a very important component of the project.
When not at work Martin enjoys relaxing with his wife Marie at their home outside Gothenburg in Sweden, fixing up his house and babysitting his grandchildren. As the Swedish summer approaches, he is particularly looking forward to barbecues with family and friends.
Written by : LACER team, Michael Hillary Hegarty | Photo Credit : LACER project
RINA NURHAFIZAH REZZA BINTI ABDUL RANI
The Column is pleased to feature Ms. Rina Nurhafizah Rezza Binti Abdul Rani, a member of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) from Brunei Darussalam and the current Head of Operations at the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), a position that she has held since September 2018.
The year 2020 was among the most challenging of her career when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Brunei in March. The NDMC had been monitoring the outbreak since the end of 2019 and was engaged in preparation and close coordination with the Ministry of Health. From January 2020, the NDMC made plans to repatriate Bruneian students from abroad and these plans included identifying isolation venues at hotels and government facilities, and the procurement of personal protection equipment (PPE) supplies for frontline staff at land, air and sea borders.
When the coronavirus hit Brunei, the NDMC took on the role of supporting non-clinical operations with the Ministry of Health by facilitating the operations at the Ministry of Health Emergency Operation Centre (MOHEOC). From the beginning of the outbreak in Brunei until the Entry Travel Pass Portal System set up by the Prime Minister’s Office was introduced in September 2020. This involved ensuring all individuals arriving in Brunei by air, land or sea were isolated directly in their respective COVID-19 monitoring centres.
Ms. Rina was tasked with monitoring all non-clinical operations. Brunei had experienced pandemics before, including the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, but policies and procedures were rapidly amended and new ones introduced as a result of the dynamics, challenges and need for damage control throughout the operation. Also taking into consideration other countries’ experiences, many changes were made in order to ensure that best practices were implemented. Brunei fully optimised the government’s whole-nation approach with all government and non-government agencies providing full support in their respective roles.
She has been with the NDMC since 2009. However, her career was mostly spent at the planning and analysis division. She admits that sitting in the operations division has been a major challenge for her, but her knowledge and expertise in training and project management, related to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and resilience, have been invaluable in her current position.
Ms Rina is also a graduate of the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme. During her time on the ACE Programme, she received the ACE Most Valuable Player 2019 Award together with two colleagues for consistently demonstrating high levels of engagement and great initiative in collaborating effectively.
She says that her ACE training was a great inspiration during the pandemic. She remembers a message from H.E. Jo Tyndal, New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore, in a Leader’s Talk session while she was in ACE, “One of the important things for a leader is leading with kindness – to lead with patience, empathy and respect for other people. Kindness is not about naivety or weakness, it is about strength.” This message gave encouragement to her, especially during the most difficult times managing the pandemic.
“It was a very difficult period, but I am glad that I was there with the rest of the coordinators and frontliners working together. There were times where we were really exhausted, worn out, but with good leadership and teaming up with high-spirited people and the support given to each other, we managed to do it together and plant in our minds that achieving our ultimate objective in ensuring the safety of our nation was the most important thing for all of us. To date, Alhamdulillah, Brunei has already passed one year with no local transmissions,” she said.
Since graduating from the ACE Programme, Ms Rina has continued on her career within the NDMC. She has also taken an active role in representing the NDMC in the meetings of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), including serving as an ASEAN-ERAT advisory member and representing the NDMC at the meeting of the Working Group for Preparedness, Response and Recovery.
Talking about her hopes for the future, she hopes that ASEAN can stand united, and be able to achieve its objective of continuously and proactively creating a safe, adaptive, inclusive and disaster-resilient region, and fulfilling its motto of One ASEAN One Response.
Written by : Hillary Michael Hegarty | Photo Credit : Theophilus Yanuarto