/ / The Other Side


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