This article firstly appears in Medium
ASEAN region comprises of 10 different countries. The region is in the prone areas towards disaster threats. On the other hand, 600 million people living in this region. Thus, it causes a high level of disaster risks. The circumstance is even more challenging with the current world that volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA).
Facing this challenge, ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre) was established in 2011. This regional institution is responsible for conducting coordination and collaboration in an emergency response aftermath disaster event.
For assisting ASEAN member states in an emergency, AHA Centre forms Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT). This team is the embodiment of the main tasks of the AHA Centre in the cooperation and coordination of humanitarian actions in the ASEAN region.
In the 12th ERAT Induction Course in 6–12 October 2019, 23 participants from 10 ASEAN Member States and AHA Centre were joining the course. This course trained participants to coordinate their complex elements, such as brain, hands, foots, and even their emotions.
Then, the course also encouraged participants to cooperate with other stakeholders, such as partners and National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMO) in 10 ASEAN countries. Among ERAT’s partners are Map Action, Telecoms Sans Frontieres, UNDAC-OCHA, and DHL.
When the cooperation is successful, then these stakeholders become our parts, which in turn would need to be coordinated. In short, this is the effort for collaborating different parts, stakeholders, and institutions for achieving the objectives of disaster response phase, namely for saving lives and alleviate suffering of the affected people.
In the simulation exercise, the scenario was 7,2 M earthquake in Metro Manila. In this disaster scenario, 23 participants were divided into 4 groups. Each group faced different challenges in the form of various injects. The mission was to implement the 3 days class materials into a complex situation in the field during the emergency response.
Participants encountered various challenges during the simulation exercise. Firstly, upon arrival, the screening in Custom, Immigration, and Quarantine became crucial. A minor different in the passport and letter of assignment could become a major problem as the participant who experience this situation cannot pass the borderline.
Next task for ERAT participants was the establishment of Reception, Departure, Centre (RDC) together with UNDAC-OCHA. This centre is facilitating the arrival of humanitarian team, such as Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Emergency Management Team during the 72 hours after the disaster. These teams with its personnel and equipment can cause a chaos in a normal airport without proper reception and departure centre.
Then, ERAT groups were being asked by the Local Emergency Management Authority (LEMA) for facilitating coordination meeting and joint assessment meeting. These meetings are common being conducted during the response phase. Many humanitarian actors and representatives of donors would be involved in such a meeting.
Each group then should conduct the rapid assessment to the affected people and local leaders. Next, various datasets were delivered from the course controller to each group to be analyse. Finally, the finding of assessment and analysis of the data should be presented in front of LEMA.
Sometimes, in the middle of conducting different actions, media would come and ambush the team. The media did not always talk to the team leader, but also can interview anyone in the team. Therefore, handling media is also an important component to be mastered by ERAT members.
All activities in the course were tailored to make participants familiar with the situation during the deployment of ERAT members. Therefore, they need to be familiar with the three core functions of ERAT, namely assist the LEMA in coordinating humanitarian response; conducting assessment and estimation of the scale, severity, impact, and needs of the affected population; and facilitating the reception of incoming assistance from other ASEAN member states and the AHA Centre.
As one of the participants, I was part of the Delta team and my role is the Deputy Team Leader. Even though I have been deployed in various emergency response in Indonesia since 2010, this course is very challenging because of several reasons.
Firstly, I have never been involved in an intensive course for preparing myself to be deployed in the emergency response. I used to jump to the emergency and followed my bosses’ order.
Secondly, there is a guideline for ERAT Member that should be followed in conducting its functions. The guideline is started from the personal preparedness, activation, mobilisation, implementation on the ground, to the demobilisation. There are a lot of dos and don’ts that should be followed by ERAT Member.
Thirdly, there are various stakeholders that should be incorporated in various activities and tasks. For example, government institutions in various levels, military personnel, partners, media, and NGOs are among of those stakeholders. Even, our members in the group can also be part of these stakeholders.
In short, all these reasons make the course not only challenging, but also interesting for me.
Fortunately, Arnell Capilli, the Deputy Director of AHA Centre who also act as facilitators in the training once said in the class. “To be a leader in disaster management and ERAT member, it is important to think big, start small, dig deep, and act fast,” he said. During the simulation exercise, his words become important for solving problems and injects.
Finally, I should say thank you for AHA Centre who were successfully conducting the 12th ASEAN-ERAT Induction Course. I believe this course would be very useful for my personal journey to be the leader of disaster management in my country and the region.
I also would like to express my gratitude for my Team Leader: Rina Nurhafizah (Brunei Darussalam), Planning Section: Feroza Arsadita (Indonesia), Operation Section: Ram Chum Mang (Myanmar), Logistic Section: Pho Thammavonxay (Lao PDR), and Finance: Theara Meourn (Cambodia).
Special thanks also for our mentor: LA Dimailig who tirelessly gave his opinions, counsels, and corrective actions.
Then thank you also for all facilitators and administrators who were successfully making this training to be hard to forget.
The simulation exercise is finish now, but hopefully someday I can say “Dewo, Deputy Team Leader, Indonesia,” in a real situation during the deployment of ERAT Team for saving lives and alleviating human suffering aftermath disaster events.