/ / The Other Side



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