Jakarta, 27 January 2020,To support ASEAN endeavours in enhancing its disaster response capacity, the EU will launch a EUR 10 million programme to support the AHA Centre, namely “Integrated Programme in Enhancing the Capacity of AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanisms” expected to start in early 2020. This new initiative will strengthen the capacity and sustainability of the centre to achieve operational excellence in disaster monitoring and emergency response; and to enhance mechanisms for ASEAN Leadership to Respond-As-One, through excellence and innovation in disaster management.
In the wake of Sulawesi Tsunami that Sulawesi, Indonesia after 7.5 minutes quake, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) was among the first humanitarian agencies that arrived on-site to provide humanitarian assistance. The AHA Centre has shown its unwavering prominence in assisting the ASEAN Member States (AMS) and again has proven itself of being instrumental in assisting the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) in coordinating the humanitarian aid by utilizing the available ASEAN mechanisms. The seven-years-old Centre has also played a pivotal role in bridging the communication gap with external parties intended to provide humanitarian assistance.
The Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Adelina Kamal, expressed her appreciation for the launch of the Project. “The support from the European Union through this project is crucial for the AHA Centre to ensure its continuing development. It allows the Centre to develop its internal mechanism and expanding at the same time. The project will also benefit the Member States through its support to a number of capacity building activities, workshops, and others.
The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, recognised EU’s support, stating that “As an important partner of ASEAN, the European Union’s contribution to the AHA Centre will play a pivotal role in advancing ASEAN closer towards realising its vision as a global leader in disaster management. By supporting ASEAN’s hallmark emergency response mechanism, the European Union ensures the continued development of disaster management assets and capacities at the regional and national levels in the ASEAN region.”
It is our hope that through this new programme the ASEAN region will become more resilient, more proactive in disaster mitigation and prevention. Much has been achieved, but the efforts need to be sustained to realize the ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management.
The ASEAN region, being one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world, espouses more than 50% of global disaster mortalities in its region during the period of 2004- 2014. The aim of the new EU programme is to substantially reduce disaster losses in lives and in the economic, social, physical and environmental assets of ASEAN Member States, and to support joint responses to disaster emergencies through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation.
Through the 2009 ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), ASEAN has set in place robust legal and political mechanisms in terms of institutions, systems and processes to respond to disasters. As a driving engine of AADMER, the AHA Centre has demonstrated, in spite of its age and the size, it is capable to do great things in supporting the disaster affected AMS. This is a good example whereby once the sound policy frameworks are in place, i.e. AADMER and One ASEAN One Response (or commonly call ASEAN responding as one), it just a matter of time for AHA Centre to unleash its full potential to shepherd concerted ASEAN response.
Ambassador Driesmans pointed out that given the increase of climate induce disaster in ASEAN region. AHA Centre needs AMS as much as AMS needs AHA Centre given its versatility and ability to adjust through the context and the availability valuable skillset at its depository which are indispensable in supporting the affected AMS.
Ambassador also highlighted that the recent mega flooding affected Jakarta and West Java with more than 50 causalities, as well as the ongoing rampant forest fires affecting neighbouring Australia shows that no one can turn a blind eye anymore towards climate induce disaster. In light of the above ASEAN countries should invest more in preparedness and response but at the same time should also stepping up its concerted efforts to curb the root causes of the climate-induced disaster by focusing more on climate change mitigation efforts. The 2019 forest fires both Indonesia peats tropical forest fires in Brazil and bushfire in Australia has shown us no matter how advance the county are in disaster preparedness, our capacity to respond towards such extend of calamities induced by climate change is by far still too low given its enormous scale which was unprecedented before in the last decade.
In addition, Ambassador Driesmans pointed out that no countries should overlook the importance of concerted and coordinated response; such regional approach in dealing with disaster has given us a better hope to deal with such unprecedented calamities as jointly pooled of AMS expertise and assets managed by AHA Centre presents not only a workable model but also a mechanism to deal with the trans-boundary nature of the climate-induced disaster which requires strong collaboration and partnership among member states as the EU have back home under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (EU-CPM) and shepherded by Emergency Response Coordinating Centre (ERCC), an entity that shared the same value and DNA with AHA Centre.
Previous EU Support:
This Action also aims to build upon and complement several past and planned EU supported activities in the region. These include the ASEAN-EU Emergency Management Program (AEEMP, closed in 2016), the EU-ASEAN enhanced dialogue facility (E-READI), the ASEAN peat land management programme to mitigate forest fires (SUPA), and the planned support to ASEAN on Sustainable Cities, Safe School Initiative and Environment Education. Moreover, there should be complementarity with DIPECHO funded projects on disaster risk reduction in the region’s most disaster-prone areas.
“Integrated Programme in Enhancing the Capacity of AHA Centre and ASEAN Emergency Response Mechanisms”
The overall objective of the programme is to contribute to the goal of the AADMER to achieve a substantial reduction of disaster losses in lives and in the economic, social, physical and environmental assets of ASEAN Member States, and to support joint responses to disaster emergencies through concerted national efforts and intensified regional and international cooperation.
The specific objectives are to (1) strengthen the capacity and sustainability of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) to achieve operational excellence in disaster monitoring and emergency response; and (2) enhance mechanisms for ASEAN Leadership to Respond-As-One, through excellence and innovation in disaster management.
The implementation modality is a combination of a direct grant to the AHA Centre and a call for proposals limited to specialized Civil Protection Agencies of EU Member States. ASEAN Member States (AMS) entrusted to the AHA Centre the legal and political mandate to operate as ASEAN’s designated entity for disaster management.