What is the AHA Centre?
The legal basis for creating the AHA Centre is the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), signed by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers on 26 July 2005 in Vientiane, Lao PDR, and entered into force on 24 December 2009. AADMER is a proactive regional framework for cooperation, coordination, technical assistance and resource mobilisation in all aspects of disaster management. Article 20 of the AADMER outlines the objective of the establishment of the AHA Centre.
The Agreement on the Establishment of the AHA Centre
Following the entry into force of the AADMER, ASEAN Member States took steps to establish the AHA Centre. The Agreement on the Establishment of the AHA Centre was signed by the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, witnessed by all Heads of State/Government, on 17 November 2011 at the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
What are the AHA Centre’s functions?
The AHA Centre serves as the operational engine of AADMER. The functions of the AHA Centre are listed as an Annex to the AADMER as well as outlined in Article 4 of the Agreement on the Establishment of the AHA Centre. The operational functions of the AHA are further described in the Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations (SASOP) and are summarised below.
The ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management, adopted by the ASEAN Ministers in charge of Disaster Management in December 2015 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, maps the broad direction and policy guidance on implementing AADMER in the next ten years. The vision document also outlines the expectation of ASEAN Member States on the AHA Centre over the next ten years. It specifically identifies that the AHA Centre could play a stronger role in facilitating capacity building to bring ASEAN Member States to a regionally and globally recognised standard, and that the AHA Centre will serve as a platform for exchange and repository of information sharing of lessons learned and best practices. The vision document further identifies the potential role of the AHA Centre to become a network of coordinator for regional centres for excellence for training and leadership.
The ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region, signed by the ASEAN Leaders on 6 September 2016 during the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits in Vientiane, Lao PDR, affirms that the AHA Centre is the primary ASEAN regional coordinating agency on disaster management and emergency response.
What is the role of the AHA Centre in the implementation of AADMER Work Programmes?
The AHA Centre is guided by the AADMER Work Programme, as well as the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management and the Declaration on One ASEAN One Response.
The current cycle of the AADMER Work Programme (2016-2020) covers all aspects of disaster management and outlines a detailed roadmap for eight priority components:
- Priority Programme 1: Aware (Risk Aware ASEAN Community);
- Priority Programme 2: Build Safely (Building Safe ASEAN Infrastructures and Essential Services);
- Priority Programme 3: Advance (A Disaster Resilient and Climate Adaptive ASEAN Community);
- Priority Programme 4: Protect (Protecting Economic and Social Gains of ASEAN Community Integration through Risk Transfer and Social Protection);
- Priority Programme 5: Respond as One (Transforming Mechanisms for ASEAN’s Leadership in Response);
- Priority Programme 6: Equip (Enhanced Capacities for One ASEAN One Response);
- Priority Programme 7: Recover (ASEAN Resilient Recovery);
- Priority Programme 8: Lead (ASEAN Leadership for Excellence and Innovation in Disaster Management).
AADMER Work Programme 2016-2020 continues to put the AHA Centre at the centre stage in the implementation of AADMER, particularly for Priority Programme 1: Aware, Priority Programme 5: Respond as One, Priority Programme 6: Equip, Priority Programme 7: Recovery, and Priority Programme 8: Lead.
How does the AHA Centre relate with ASEAN disaster management bodies?
The ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), which consists of the heads of the ten National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) of ASEAN Member States, serves as the AHA Centre ‘s Governing Board. The Board provides policy oversight and supervision in the implementation of the Centre’s programmes. The Governing Board reports to the AADMER Conference of Parties (COP), a ministerial level body, on the progress of AADMER implementation.
The ACDM has also formed five Working Groups (WGs) to provide technical guidance for the implementation of the eight priority programmes under the AADMER Work Programme 2016-2020. These Working Groups lead the implementation of their respective Work Programme outputs together with the AHA Centre. Page 29-31 of the AHA Centre Work Plan 2020 provide further description of the relationship between the AHA Centre and these ASEAN bodies.
Will the AHA Centre replace national level response mechanisms?
No. The AHA Centre will always work together with the NDMOs to improve their capacity for national level response mechanisms, and to establish better connectivity among ASEAN Member States for One ASEAN One Response. This is also in line with AADMER and the spirit of One ASEAN One Response.
How does the AHA Centre monitor and provide information on disasters in the region?
The AHA Centre provides information about hazards and disasters through the following mechanisms:
- Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS), a multi-hazard monitoring system that allows for near real-time notification of impending disaster, gathers essential elements of information, and provides a comprehensive situational awareness for operational decision making. DMRS also allows users to add hazard and non-hazard information, thereby facilitating inter and intra-agency information sharing.
- Flash Updates, Situation Updates, Weekly Updates and Monthly Updates. Flash Updates provide one-page overviews of impending or happening disasters, giving critical and quick information and statistics at a time of need. Situation Updates are then developed during a time of emergency to include relevant information regarding multiple elements of the unfolding disaster, including summary, response plans, actions undertaken, maps, images and graphics related to situation. The AHA Centre then summarises disaster situation in the region on a weekly and a monthly basis.
- ASEAN Disaster Information Network (ADInet), an interactive database platform that provides daily and weekly regional disaster monitoring overviews. It can be accessed through http://adinet.ahacentre.org
Through these facilities, the AHA Centre provides situation updates during actual disaster emergencies, weekly and monthly situation updates, and web-based crisis information management. The updates are circulated to the NMDOS as well as published in the AHA Centre’s social media accounts. Social media users are also able to follow AHA Centre’s latest updates through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
How can the AHA Centre assist an ASEAN Member State that is affected by a disaster?
The AHA Centre follows the Standard Operating Procedure for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Join Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations (SASOP) in managing and sharing information and in facilitating ASEAN’s response. The affected Member State could make a request for AHA Centre’s assistance, including deployment of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) and ASEAN’s relief items managed by the AHA Centre under the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA).
The affected Member State could also request assistance from the other Member States through the AHA Centre. The AHA Centre could also make an offer of assistance or facilitate assistance from the other ASEAN Member States to the affected country. SASOP forms are utilised to facilitate the communication process.