TÉLÉCOMS SANS FRONTIÈRES
Connecting People During Emergencies
Télécoms Sans Fontières (TSF) was founded in 1998 and is currently the world’s leading non-profit emergency telecommunications organisation. TSF provides emergency communications facilities for affected populations and humanitarian aid workers during disasters. TSF has an established office in the United States, as well as three operational bases in France, Nicaragua, and Thailand. Over the last 20 years, TSF has developed a roster of worldwide IT and telecoms specialists, ready for deployment within a few hours’ notice of the onset of a disaster. TFS has built its reputation as one of the first responders on the ground when disaster strikes. TFS is also part of the first responder for the UN Emergency Telecommunications Cluster, and also a member of the UN Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications (WGET). TSF is also engaged as a partner of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
October 2010 was the first time ASEAN facilitated TSF’s deployment within ASEAN Member States, during the response to the Mentawai earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia. This deployment was initiated at the request of the Office of the President of Indonesia, and in coordination with the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority (BNPB). Since 2017, ASEAN, through the AHA Centre, has engaged TSF to train ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) regarding emergency ICT processes. The relationship between the AHA Centre and TSF has since been formalised through a Memorandum of Intent (MOI) signed on the 5th of January 2018. The MOI clarifies the facilitation of cooperation, and exchange of information, assets and ideas of mutual interest and benefit for both entities. Through the MOI, TSF also re-affirms its commitment to support ASEAN in enhancing the capacity of ASEAN ERAT for emergency ICT preparedness and response–a key element in the overall One ASEAN, One Response vision.
The partnership between AHA Centre and TSF involves cooperation on preparedness, as well as during emergency responses. Preparedness activities include training and joint deployment to exercises. Insofar, TSF has supported the implementation of three ASEAN-ERAT induction courses since April 2017. For emergency response, this partnership is crucial to support the deployment of ASEAN-ERAT, particularly during early stages when telecommunication systems are usually down.
“Emergency telecommunication will also serve as the backbone to support the role of ASEAN-ERAT in facilitating the coordination of ASEAN response on the ground. During an emergency, TSF will deploy its experts alongside ASEAN-ERAT responders to support their communication. Deployment of TSF experts and their equipment will also leverage ASEAN-ERAT’s capacity to extend our emergency communication support for the affected government and other institutions,” stated Janggam Adhityawarma, Assistant Director for Preparedness & Response with the AHA Centre.
The AHA Centre and TSF will continue to support each other during emergency deployments and through capacity building exercises. We are now looking forward to conduct a joint deployment for the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX) 2018 in Indonesia, to further develop our collaboration in supporting affected ASEAN Member States in times of disaster.
Written by : Carla Budiarto | Photo : AHA Centre/Dandi Rahman
EAS INTERNATIONAL DIASTER ASSISTANCE WORKSHOP
OFFER GLIMPSES OF ASEAN’S COLLECTIVE RESPONSE THE REGION
PERTH, AUSTRALIA, 8-10 MAY 2018
The AHA Centre will be expected to play a crucial and pivotal role in facilitating ASEAN collective response beyond the Southeast Asian region, in particular to provide disaster assistance to non-ASEAN countries who are participating in East Asia Summit (EAS). This formed a key theme for discussion during the EAS International Disaster Assistance Workshop, held in Perth, Australia, from the 8th to the 10th of May 2018.
The workshop presented the participants with a scenario in which multiple disaster events strike Australia simultaneously. Despite the calculated low odds of the reality of such events occurring simultaneously, the scenario would severely stretch the existing disaster management system in Australia. Under this scenario, Australia will be forced to call for international assistance.
Participants engaged from different agencies within the Australian Federal Government, Local State Governments, as well as representatives from the ten ASEAN countries and other eight EAS participating countries (i.e. Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, United States and New Zealand) to discuss the potential ramifications of this scenario. Points included Australia’s mobilisation of its internal resources and facilitation of international assistance, including the one from ASEAN.
The Southeast Asian region continues establish its roles and responsibilities within the global context – including within disaster management. ASEAN Leaders are in the process of repositioning themselves as a region with the capacity to provide disaster-related assistance to other regions in the world if required. This ambition is clearly stated in the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response, signed by the ASEAN Leaders in September 2016. Therefore, the EAS workshop stands as a key initial step towards the goal of enabling ASEAN to respond collectively beyond the region. The AHA Centre, as the primary regional coordinating agency in disaster management, welcomed this opportunity to clarify the arrangements that must be in place to enable ASEAN in attaining the shared vision.
The workshop also represents the opportunity to partially test the EAS Disaster Response Toolkit developed by Australia and Indonesia in 2015. The Toolkit contains important information on how individual EAS participating countries may send and receive international assistance, as well as list of national focal points that could be contacted to arrange an offer of assistance. The workshop was co-hosted by Emergency Management Australia, the Government of Western Australia and the Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency Authority (BNPB), in close collaboration with the AHA Centre.
Written by : Dipo Summa | Photo: Emergency Management Australia
STRENGTHENING THE INTEROPERABILITY OF
ASEAN-ERAT AND UNDAC
SWITZERLAND, 29 APRIL – 11 MAY 2018
THE ASEAN REGION WAS REPRESENTED BY THREE MEMBERS OF THE REGION DURING THE UNITED NATIONS DISASTER ASSESSMENT AND COORDINATION (UNDAC) GLOBAL INDUCTION COURSE, HELD IN SWITZERLAND FROM THE 29TH OF APRIL TO THE 11TH OF MAY, 2018. THEIR INVOLVEMENT IN THE UNDAC TRAINING SERVES TO DEMONSTRATE THE STRENGTHENED PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE UNITED NATIONS AND ASEAN FOR INCREASING COLLECTIVE DISASTER PREPAREDNESS IN THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN REGION.
The participants, from Indonesia, Malaysia and Lao PDR, included two members of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT), thus their engagement in the UNDAC course formed another opportunity to test the interoperability between international and regional humanitarian mechanisms.
“The purpose of our involvement in the UNDAC course is to ensure quality learning process of UNDAC methodology and approach, increase the number of ASEAN-ERAT members who are also UNDAC-certified, as well as showcasing the quality of ASEAN-ERAT in collaborating together with other humanitarian actors within the UNDAC system,” said Dr. Mizan Bisri, the Disaster Monitoring and Analysis Officer of the AHA Centre, and one of the participants in the 2-week course.
At the completion of the course, numerous key-learnings could be identified, especially regarding points of improvement for adoption from UNDAC within ASEAN-ERAT processes. These included, amongst others, the strategic elements of coordination, access to assessment results, and back-end support mechanisms of UNDAC missions. A particular highlight is the strategic element of UNDAC system that forms a link between their assessment results and greater resource mobilisation, as well as public disclosure of such assessment results to increase the transparency of UNDAC and its standing in the wider humanitarian community. Therefore, dissemination of the assessment report produced by ASEAN-ERAT at the completion of each deployment/disaster response is increasingly important. While a response might not necessarily lead to greater resource mobilisation, having a public report will increase the visibility of ASEAN-ERAT, promote the values of ASEAN-ERAT, and potentially fortify the partnerships with global humanitarian partners.
The training also provided in-depth insights that may be integrated into the development of ASEAN-ERAT Level-2 curriculum, particularly related to rapid assessment, information management, logistics, humanitarian civil-military coordination and early recovery. The UNDAC holds a wide array of experiences designing back-end support with partner organisations, both within and outside of the UN system, particularly focused towards assessment and analysis, and information management aspects. Based on these experiences, within the Southeast Asian context, there are opportunities to enable ASEAN-ERAT members to provide remote support for ongoing missions on the ground.
During the UNDAC global induction course, ASEAN-ERAT was highlighted as a key regional partner for responding on the ground, capacity building and inter-operability preparedness. The ongoing participation between both ASEAN-ERAT and UNDAC within each other’s respective induction courses and exercises was highlighted and praised. UNDAC members also evidenced awareness that, in the case of disasters in ASEAN region, there is a great likelihood that a Joint Operations and Coordination Centre of ASEAN (JOCCA) would run in parallel to the Onsite Operations and Coordination Centre (OSOCC). Both centres would serve as coordinating platforms and provide support to the affected countries to manage incoming assistance. The existence of a Standard Operating Procedure between the OCHA/UNDAC and AHA Centre/ASEAN-ERAT, tailored to the respective UNDAC and ASEAN-ERAT mission cycles, was highlighted as a good institutional approach to ensure quality response for supporting the needs of the affected population. Overall, better strategic, tactical and operational linkages between ASEAN and UN agencies are fundamental to the holistic implementation of One ASEAN One Response, both for responding inside and outside the region. As of May 2018, there are 18 out of 252 ASEAN-ERAT members who had been trained and qualified as UNDAC personnel, with plans to continuously increase these numbers, in line with the ASEAN-ERAT Transformation Plan as part of the AHA Centre Work Plan 2020.
Written by : Mizan Bisri | Photo : AHA Centre, United Nations