Southeast Asia is a prone region towards disaster threats. For example, this region experienced a massive catastrophe when earthquake and tsunami hit in 2004. The impacts of this disaster affected several countries. Among of them were the ASEAN — a group consists of 10 countries in Southeast Asia region— member countries.
Realising the common threats in the region, ASEAN member states agreed to form a special institution that manages disaster management activities. Then in 2011, the ASEAN Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (AHA Centre) was established.
A requirement for the effectiveness of disaster management activity in the region is by developing its human resource. In doing so, AHA Centre supported by Japan ASEAN Integrated Fund (JAIF) conducts the AHA Centre Executive Programme (ACE Programme). This programme aims to empower human resource from 10 member states to be the future leaders of disaster management activities in ASEAN.
ACE Programme in 2019 is in batch six as this programme was started in 2014. There are 2 officers from each ASEAN member states, except for Brunei and Singapore that each is sending 1 officer. Therefore, there are 18 participants of batch six ACE Programme in 2019. It marked history as the previous batches were never been followed by all member states.
On Monday, 22 July 2019, the commencement ceremony for the ACE participants was attended by high-level dignitaries from ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Secretariat, as well as the representatives from Dialogue Partners. H.E. Kazuo Sunaga, Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN, and H.E. Lim Jock Choi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, officiated the commencement ceremony together with the Executive Director of the AHA Centre, Adelina Kamal.
“It’s not going to be easy, but when things get tough, always remember that we are building your leadership muscles. The harder the course, the tougher the exercise, the stronger your leadership muscles will be.” Adelina Kamal, the Executive Director of AHA Centre.
Welcoming the participants, Adelina Kamal highlighted the unique opportunity that the ACE participants are having which will enable them to learn new skills and knowledge in disaster management.
The course is designed to be comprehensive, comprises of 1.000 hours lecture, 23 courses, 14 organisations, 3 institutes. It is equivalent to a master degree program. It teaches relationship among ASEAN member countries, technical skill, and soft skill, such as leadership and communication. Developing a project proposal that contributes to disaster management activity in each country; and add knowledge, skill, and perspective.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Adelina Kamal said, “but when things get tough, always remember that we are building your leadership muscles. The harder the course, the tougher the exercise, the stronger your leadership muscles will be.”
The ACE courses will run for five months until November 2019. During their learning programme, the participants will get opportunities to study various aspects of disaster management, including learning visits to Central Sulawesi, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Japan.
In this occasion, Ambassador Japan to ASEAN, H.E. Kazuo Sunaga mentioned that the training is unique to train future bosses of AHA Centre. This measure is important as the role of the AHA Centre increases due to the increase in disaster occurrences and vulnerabilities in the region. Therefore, the centre’s responsibility for coordinating the disaster management activities in ASEAN also needs to be enhanced.
Meanwhile, Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Lim Jock Choi reiterated that the ACE Programme is a positive development to build a network between member countries. According to him, the programme is important to continuously enhance the capacity of officers in disaster management and affected community to respond and mitigate towards slow and fast onset disasters that caused socio-economic impacts.
Later on, the Secretary-General ASEAN mentioned that the ACE Programme aims to develop participants professionally and enrich their personality. These participants would become the global leader for disaster management activities in 2025. Hence, the programme would become the milestone for a new journey in the disaster management effort in ASEAN.
In achieving the objective of the ACE Programme, participants should master in several areas. They need to know the implementation of ‘One ASEAN One Response’ jargon and be a member of the ERAT team. It then entails the development of human capacity through understanding logistic, communication, and coordination mechanism during the disaster response phase.
In addition, future leaders also should build a partnership with different stakeholders including conduct Public-Private Partnership (PPP). Only by conducting all of these actions, the impact of the ACE Programme will be felt by the region.