/ / AHA Centre Diary 2


On November 28, 2019, the journey of 18 AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme Batch 6 participants finally came to an end, recognised through a graduation ceremony at the AHA Centre’s office in Jakarta. The training comprised of 23 courses, visited 5 countries, and was implemented throughout 5 months. Participants of the course were National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) officers from the 10 ASEAN Member States. Facilitators and training partners for the course came from more than 21 international organisations, universities, and institutions working in the area of disaster management.

The objective of the ACE Programme is preparing the future leaders of disaster management in the ASEAN region, by building their capacity across various aspects of disaster management, including preparedness, response, and recovery. Participants were encouraged to understand the scope of international and intra-regional coordination, as well as demonstrate the spirit of One ASEAN One Response. There are four core competencies that the programme aims to achieve, namely developing experts in humanitarian assistance, supporting the operationalisation One ASEAN One Response, building result-oriented leaders, and improving leadership effectiveness.

Dignitaries for the ACE graduation ceremony arrived from the ASEAN Secretariat, Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), ASEAN Member States’ representatives, ASEAN Dialogue Partners, the Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB – Indonesian NDMO), the AHA Centre, and of course the ACE Programme participants themselves.

“ASEAN communities need to be more resilient. This can be achieved by conducting training for officers of NDMOs in ASEAN, and strengthening coordination mechanisms among Member States” said, Harmensyah, the Secretary-General of the BNPB during his opening address. According to Harmensyah, building networks among Member States can help achieve excellence in managing disasters in disaster-prone areas such as the ASEAN region. He hoped that the ACE Programme alumnae can support their organisations in their respective countries, and also stand beside the AHA Centre when managing disaster in the region.

Japan’s Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Akira Chiba, reiterated the importance of the ACE Programme in building strong networks between colleagues and experts in the region. He hopes that participants will spread and share their knowledge, such as the lessons they learned from their study visit to Japan. He then professed that ACE Programme participants will become disaster management leaders not only in the ASEAN region, but also on the international stage.

H.E. Kung Phoak, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN, also provided insight to attendees regarding the application of innovative and creative methods for building resilience to face the various, often transboundary disasters that constantly take place across the region. He highlighted that this objective should be the priority of disaster management activities throughout ASEAN, and that such approaches require effective and strong leadership – hence the importance of the ACE Programme. He closed by supporting all ACE Programme alumnae to become champions of disaster management in their respective nations across ASEAN.

After speeches, the ACE participant from Thailand – Ms Sulawan Kewsanga – presented her project proposal to onlookers. Ms Kewsanga’s project was titled ‘Increasing the Disaster Response Mechanism for People with Disabilities’, with proposal aspect forming a key part of programme outcomes for all participants. Awards were also presented to participants during the graduation ceremony, with recipients listed below.

The next session was a reflection speech compiled by the ACE participants, that was delivered by Mr Ram Chum Mang from Myanmar, and Ms Amelia Justina Lim from Singapore. Mr Ram expressed his gratitude to all partners who supported the course and stated that “we the ACE participants have become ASEAN brothers and sisters, to become future leaders”. Meanwhile, Ms Amelia highlighted that the ACE participants were not the same people they had been five months ago. She mentioned an experience during a field visit in Palu in which participants met a survivor from the liquefaction affected area.

As the survivor recounted her experience from the 2018 disaster, the participants listened and cried together with the survivor. Amelia, however, mentioned that those tears were tears of compassion, not tears of weakness.

This experience was printed in Ms Amelia’s thoughts and she realised those good leaders are those who put being human first above all else. These leaders put themselves in others’ shoes to understand their feelings and aspirations. Then she highlighted that during a crisis, ASEAN should work as a team, because ‘together we are stronger’.

To bring the graduation ceremony to a close, Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, reiterated messages she delivered five months before – that the ACE Programme course would be difficult, but it was necessary for building the leadership muscle of future leaders.

Ms Kamal expected that ACE Programme alumnae would implement all experiences and knowledge from the course to support communities during crises. She hoped that those knowledge, lessons, and experiences would make everyone a better person, especially in managing disaster in ASEAN region.


Written by : Sridewanto Pinuji | Photo : AHA Centre | Originally published at http://pinuji.net on December 2, 2019