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