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November News

The month of November was dominated by the visit of LACER experts and project leadership to Jakarta, which included implementation of multiple project activities and meeting staff of the AHA Centre, ASEAN Secretariat, EU Delegation, and other partners.

The visit kicked off with the LACER experts getting familiar with the AHA Centre and its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) after two years of COVID restrictions prevented travel to Indonesia. Another highlight was the exchange of courtesy gifts with Executive Director Lee Yam Ming, expressing mutual gratitude for two years of solid partnership and collaboration.

On 21 November, the team suspended activities temporarily and was evacuated to safety outdoors during an earthquake which shook sites across Jakarta. The tremor, measuring 5.6 at a shallow depth of 10 km, was centered near Cianjur, West Java. According to the Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), the number of fatalities has exceeded 270 people while more than 2,000 have been injured. In addition, 61,908 people have been displaced and 22,241 houses seriously damaged. Extensive search and rescue operations were launched after the incident. The heavy damage prompted the ECHO Field Office in Bangkok to release a Crisis Report.

During the visit, the LACER team visit also conducted planning and coordination events with various partners. Meetings were held with AHA Centre partners such as the SDC. To plan the upcoming Project Steering Committee meeting, an informal dinner was organised on 21 November which brought together the LACER leadership with the EU Delegation’s Guillaume Barraut and colleagues from the AHA Centre. On the following day LACER continued partnership discussions, first at the Swedish Embassy to consider  events in conjunction with the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2023). In the afternoon, Guillaume Barraut and Thibaut Portevin welcomed the LACER leadership to the EU Delegation for a formal project planning meeting and update on ongoing and planned LACER activities.

The team visit also completed the groundwork for a mid-term review of the project. LACER M&E Advisor Cristobal Mingu carried out structured key informant interviews with AHA staff as part of the process. LACER plans to organise a more extensive workshop on this to discuss the results of what has been done and how the remaining project implementation period can incorporate these learnings to maximise impact.

Advisory missions on strategic planning (B1.3) 

Following a request from AHA Centre, LACER experts are now contributing to the development of a long term strategic visioning initiative which looks at operational, functional and resource needs over a 5-10 year perspective. With the support of Peter Månsson, a first brainstorming session was held during the LACER team visit. In addition, LACER will continue to support this initiative through the recruitment of an expert in long term planning processes for disaster management.

Donor Coordination (B2.3)

During the team visit, LACER experts met with AHA partner, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) to coordinate on common programming, such as support to the ARDEX planned for October 2023. In this context, LACER welcomed the Swiss appointment of a dedicated DRM manager to be based in Jakarta.

The LACER team also shared relevant DG ECHO/ERCC information products related to the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Nalgae in the Philippines, such as the ECHO Daily Map on 31 October with a detailed breakdown of damage by region, as well as the Flash Report on the same.

Capacity Development Strategy (C.0)

In order to finalise this activity, LACER expert Peter Månsson carried out a capacity assessment of disaster management (DM) functions at the AHA Centre on 21 November. The purpose of the workshop was to let staff at the AHA Centre assess their ability to perform the nine DM functions that are deemed essential for ensuring societal safety. The nine-function framework had already been introduced and used in workshops during 2021 to map the institutional framework (legislations, policies and SOPs) of and donor support to the AHA Centre.

The workshop was attended by 17 AHA Centre staff, comprising participants from all divisions as well as project managers, the Team Leader and three supporting experts of the LACER project.

The workshop commenced by a short review of the DM framework to ensure a common understanding of is structure and nine connected functions. Thereafter, the participants filled out an electronic survey where they indicated the extent to which they agreed with statements about the existence of prerequisites for an efficient management of the functions. The outputs were presented as a graph (see below), which facilitated an overview of which functions the AHA staff believe they are more or less capable of performing. After this, the participants were to identify strengths and weaknesses regarding their ability to perform the respective functions as well as the causes to and effects of the weaknesses and remedial actions to address them. The outputs of the assessments are given by the chart below and indicate that the AHA Centre is relatively well versed to perform the functions of forecasting, monitoring and response and have the greatest room for improvements with                         regards to the function of prevention/mitigation.

The workshop concluded with a presentation on how the AHA Centre may use the tool to attain a regional overview of the disaster management abilities of the ten AMS and catalyse peer-to-peer learning between the NDMOs in ASEAN.

In addition to the workshop on the DRM tool, LACER expert Peter Månsson also organised a meeting with AHA Centre Resource Mobilization Officer, Ilham Nugraha, to discuss the progression of the proposed Grant and Partnership Management Tool (GPMT). LACER received a prototype demonstration of the tool, which is an online portal with information on all the grants the AHA Centre receives from external partners. The tool has many purposes, including enabling overviews of financial support and gaps, trend analyses and facilitating the development of funding strategies and direction. All projects and grants will be tagged according to the nine general functions of resilient systems that Dr. Månsson previously has introduced through the LACER project. This further helps to differentiate between functional areas (e.g. risk assessments, monitoring, impact assessments) that are relatively well sourced and those which are not. This insight is not only of importance to the AHA Centre, but to its donors as well. Donors want to provide added value, avoid duplications and direct their resources to under sourced but important activities. Allowing them to use the tool to understand what other donors already are funding, is likely a basis for efficient and innovative dialogues on existing needs and suitable interventions. Transparency is also a foundation of trust and sustainable partnerships, Dr. Månsson added.

Conduct functional exercises of ERO function and evaluate (E1.1)

In line with the purpose of this activity to develop the readiness and functionality of AHA Centre emergency response organisation procedures through enhanced regular exercises, the LACER team had been working with operations staff in the AHA EOC for several weeks to develop a suitable scenario and then facilitate implementation of a two-day exercise (EOCX 3 and 4) which would test the agility of internal procedures (EROP Guidelines) and external procedures (SASOP Guidelines).

However, with the sudden onset of Tropical Cyclone Nalgae and deployment of an ASEAN-ERAT team to assess damage in the Philippines just prior to the EOCX, the AHA Centre informed LACER that the planned exercise would need to be modified and scaled down in order to adjust to a reduced number of staff present along with the wider burden of conducting field operations. As part of the revised EOCX, LACER observed a training on EROP and SASOP guidelines with a separate presentation from the Philippines NDRRMC-ODC on their operations in response to Nalgae. Tea Leader Charles Silva also facilitated a question and answer session during the EOCX 4 briefing.

Implement enhanced routines and protocols for rapid deployment (F3.6)

During the reporting period, the AHA Centre approached the LACER team with an invitation to facilitate an activity on establishing an ASEAN Emergency Telecommunications Network stemming from the AADMER and the AHA Work Plan 2020-2025. At the request of the AHA ICT team, visiting LACER experts Toomas and Peter arranged an impromptu briefing on the development of emergency telecommunication networks in EUCPT and shared experiences from the EU TAST (technical assistance and support) teams. The aim is to better understand the telecommunications requirements for ASEAN ERAT teams deployed in the field and how EU can support this development. LACER hopes this initial briefing has created the basis to facilitate a workshop and training the AHA Centre is planning in February.

                      H1.4 Standards and Certification

Following previous collaboration on standardisation and certification at the  regional level, the LACER Team Leader was invited to participate in the ASCEND Certification Simulation on 24-25 November. The event took place at BNBP Disaster Response Training Ground in Sentul outside Jakarta.

As a key contribution to the development of ASEAN programming in this area, LACER Gender Advisor Olga Bezbhozhna shared a PGI analaysis (protection, gender and inclusiveness) of the ASCEND Certification procedure. It contains first a background explanation of why a PGI perspective is relevant to ASCEND (particularly in light of the ASEAN PGI Framework) and secondly it offers several recommendations on how PGI can best be integrated into the procedures moving forward. LACER believes the suggestions to be practical and possible to introduce.