Enhancing Regional Cooperation on Humanitarian Assistance within ASEAN.
Earlier, the APTERR Secretariat arranged a field trip for the APTERR staff to visit the Satellite Warehouse under the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN (DELSA) located at the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM) Regional Office No.16 in Chainat province. The field study provided the APTERR staff with a concrete understanding on the DELSA mechanism and utilisation of the satellite warehouse during the emergency occurrence. Also, I think it would be an opportunity for the APTERR Secretariat to enhance cooperation with relevant agencies for humanitarian assistance and food security in the future, such as the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre).
The DELSA is a key mechanism to provide swift assistance of relief item to the ASEAN country who faces a post-disaster emergency situation. It was established on 7 December 2012 to develop a regional relief item stockpile and to support the capacity enhancement of the AHA Centre and among the ASEAN countries in emergency logistics operations. Under the DELSA, three warehouses are operated, comprising a main regional warehouse in Malaysia, a satellite warehouse in Thailand, and a standalone warehouse in the Philippines, with an aim to further strengthen ASEAN’s collective response to natural hazardous under the commitment of “One ASEAN, One Response” Declaration. In Thailand, the satellite warehouse located in Chainat province was launched officially at the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on 23 June 2019 to be as a hub for relief items delivering among sub-Mekong regions.
An increase of frequent and severe natural hazards among the ASEAN region has been raising concern over the climate change, and disaster management system. Annually, there are millions of people affected by natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical storms, flooding, landslides, and volcanic eruptions, and some exceed the country’s capacity to control. In relation to this, food security becomes a critical issue within the ASEAN regions and the plus three countries as an impact of climate change increases the number of damaged crops and natural disasters drawing attention in food availability and accessibility for the affected countries. Regarding this, the ASEAN member countries have realised that it is necessary to have agencies responsible for disaster management and food security to enhance cooperation among member states and develop the ASEAN mechanism. Therefore, we, the APTERR and the AHA Centre have been operating to address the mentioned desires of the ASEAN countries.
Many experts and studies have recommended the two agencies regarding the possibility of the APTERR and the AHA Centre to work closely in delivering food aids amid a time of emergency occurrence. The APTERR has its own rice reserves while the AHA Centre is good at the logistic system, warehouses as well as the Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS).
In particular, the DMRS is one of core competencies of the AHA Centre known as accurate and trustworthy data source. Besides, the AHA Centre has planned to develop its system through the four Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategic pillars, including Emergency Telecommunication Network, Data Intelligence and Analysis, Information and Knowledge Management System, and Resource Management Engine, to be more effective in the line with the ICT Roadmap on Disaster Management for 2025 and Beyond. Concurrently, the AHA Centre wishes to cooperate with other organisations inside and outside the ASEAN region.
With this opportunity, I think the APTERR should study an establishment of cooperative system with the AHA Centre in the DMRS such as disaster information sharing to support its preparedness and evaluation of releasing the APTERR rice in response to a demand of affected APTERR members.
Both the APTERR and the AHA Centre are important mechanisms for the ASEAN to strengthen food security and disaster management. The increase in number and scale of the natural disaster threatens management capacity in the region. Meanwhile, food security is a sensitive issue because it means the state’s survival. In the time of disaster, an available of food in the affected nation becomes a critical issue. Therefore, the future cooperation between the APTERR and AHA Centre would encourage the ASEAN region into sustainability development.
14 October 2020
*This article is a product of the APTERR Secretariat. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APTERR Secretariat and its APTERR members.
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