Presenter with disaster maps
AHA Centre uses a custom version of Pacific Disaster Center’s DisasterAWARE platform, for disaster response, planning, and exercises

A new program to enhance regional disaster resilience among the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was officially endorsed on January 17, 2020, by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management. The committee agreed to support the Regional and National Capacity Development Program, and recognized the program as an official cooperative partnership between ASEAN and the Maui-based Pacific Disaster Center (PDC)—a University of Hawaiʻi applied science, research and technology center.

The program will help advance the goals outlined in the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response Work Programme (2016–2020)—specifically the section that deals with improving the availability of data and information on regional risk and vulnerability. The agreement provides the legally-binding framework for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation coordination between and among ASEAN countries.

“This program demonstrates how collaboration across national borders and sharing of resources is helping to achieve common sustainability and disaster risk reduction goals and save more lives,” said UH President David Lassner.

The new program benefits all ASEAN member states through collaboration with their respective national disaster management offices , as well as the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre). The AHA Centre facilitates cooperation and coordination among ASEAN member states for disaster management and emergency response in the ASEAN region.

Regional risk reduction

All program participants aim to strengthen their early warning systems in order to reduce risk and vulnerability in the region.

“From its inception, we’ve worked together with the AHA Centre to support its life-saving mission to be the regional leader for disaster risk reduction in service to all ASEAN member states,” said PDC Deputy Executive Director Chris Chiesa. He said the program is an extension of the successes of PDC’s long-held partnership with the AHA Centre, and more broadly with the regional committee, as well as the center’s direct partnerships with many ASEAN member states over the last decade.

Chiesa explained how, under the new program funded by the USAID Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance , member states will receive upgrades or enhancements to existing systems powered by PDC’s DisasterAWARE platform. Others, he said, will work with PDC to field new systems tailored to the needs of the nation or to leverage the AHA Centre’s Disaster Monitoring and Response System—also powered by DisasterAWARE—that has been equipping the AHA Centre’s monitoring and analysis since its inception in November 2011. The objectives of the program, according to Chiesa, are to build national resilience, promote information-sharing between member states and ASEAN, and to support regional collaboration on the rising human and economic costs of natural disasters felt around the world.

“We are excited to be able to offer, by request of ASEAN member states and the AHA Centre, the same leading-edge DisasterAWARE technologies, tools, and critical insights to assist member states directly—a number of whom already use our technology,” said Chiesa.

For more info see the Pacific Disaster Center website.