TROPICAL STORMS LINFA AND NANGKA:
THE AHA CENTRE’S FIRST DISASTER RESPONSE AMIDST THE PANDEMIC
Significant weather activity during the middle of October, 2020, saw the AHA Centre mobilised ASEAN relief items in response to Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA that struck Viet Nam. Supported through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF), the relief items were airlifted from the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) regional stockpile in Subang, Malaysia, with the assistance of the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD). The items included 1,300 kitchen sets and 1,000 shelter repair kits, and reached Da Nang International Airport, Viet Nam in the evening of the 20th of October.
Ms Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, stated that the AHA Centre worked closely with the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development – Viet Nam Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, to monitor the impact of Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA. “We also intensified our disaster monitoring efforts from early October, after identifying the formation of the tropical storms,” Ms Kamal explained.
According to Ms Kamal, the relief items represent the tangible assistance and solidarity of the ASEAN nations, under the spirit of ‘One ASEAN, One Response’. This was also the AHA Centre’s first natural disaster response amidst the COVID-19 pandemic context, which meant that most preparations, including at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), were conducted remotely.
The disaster response effort within the pandemic context created a range of other new challenges for the AHA Centre team. Engaging partners and all other response stakeholders within a remote environment was a primary focus of the AHA Centre, as it worked out new and innovative ways to ensure its primary role was fulfilled regardless of the limitations caused by the situation. On 15 October, the AHA Centre organised an online Executive Briefing for all ASEAN Member States, diplomatic missions and humanitarian partners, together with the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority. This gathering worked to provide situational awareness and a common operating overview of the impacts resulting from Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA in the ASEAN region. The briefing was attended by over 40 invitees, including the Secretary-General of ASEAN H.E. Dato Lim Jock Hoi and the Deputy Director-General of the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority (VNDMA) Mr. Nguyen Van Tien. Both these key stakeholders also provided strong and clear input during the Executive Briefing.
The widespread floods caused by Tropical Storms LINFA and NANGKA not only affected multiple provinces through central Viet Nam, but also impacted other areas in Cambodia and Lao PDR. More than 800,000 people in Viet Nam were affected by the storms, with more than 66,500 people evacuated. The AHA Centre remained on stand-by to support and coordinate with the Viet Nam Disaster Management Authority, as well as continue to monitor the situation in Viet Nam and other ASEAN countries. “We do hope that the relief items will lighten up the spirit of the communities affected by the storms in central Viet Nam,” Ms Kamal added.
Written by : Moch Syifa | Photo Credit : VNDMA for AHA Centre