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The AHA Centre Knowledge Series Book #7 - Coordinating Unity

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The first five years at a glance

In 2005, when the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) was signed by the entire ASEAN leadership, the way was paved for the establishment of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre). A little more than six years later, the ribbon was cut to begin a new history of ASEAN regional response and management of emergency situations. In the five years since its opening day on 17 November 2011, the AHA Centre has grown to become a force of its own in the regional emergency management field. While there have been a multitude of challenges, and plenty of lessons learned, the ASEAN region as a whole has become increasingly focused, coordinated and responsive in the face of disaster.

The emergency management sector is an evolving form; unstable, unpredictable and ever-changing. The AHA Centre was identified by AADMER as a key mechanism to coordinate response to this turbulence, and create a united and prepared ASEAN region, so often facing the full force of natural disaster. To achieve this, it was determined that the AHA Centre, based from its offices in Jakarta, Indonesia, would be the key coordinator for the following emergency management focus areas.
It would work within its key areas through the implementation of numerous mechanisms and a range of operations. For one, there is the emergency monitoring and response centre, a central nervous system of computer screens, maps and communication devices. Alongside this, the AHA Centre implements a multitude of preparedness programs, whether it be the future leaders of ASEAN emergency management in the ACE Programme, or an emergency response and assessment team across the region, prepared for speedy deployment through the ASEAN-ERAT training course and stand-by roster system.

Finally, and so importantly, the AHA Centre has become the cornerstone of coordination across the ASEAN region. Immeasurable success has also been achieved through the AHA Centre’s relationships with international partners for funding, training and knowledge-sharing, as well as with other emergency management stakeholders in civil society, international NGOs, and United Nations institutions. As the AHA Centre looks to the future, the building blocks have been laid for increasing engagement and support with the private sector, beginning to close the loop on the range of stakeholders in the emergency management field. Yet the last 5 years cannot be looked back upon without remembering the disasters that impacted the lives of so many ASEAN citizens, whether the enormous Typhoon Haiyan, the multiple floods in Indonesia and Myanmar, and so many more, the lives and livelihoods of millions have been heavily affected. The AHA Centre has steadily improved its response mechanisms to such disasters, and with each year becomes increasingly prepared to coordinate across nations, across the region, and even out into the international environment. While the establishment of the AHA Centre was a success in itself, the last five years are bursting with an increasing number of achievements, large and small, and each with its own meaning and story. As we look back across a range of accomplishments, we do so with the complexities and unpredictability of the emergency context in mind, as well as the added challenges of multi-national coordination and facilitation. It is within this context that all that has been accomplished by the AHA Centre is magnified, and recognised for the true success that has been achieved by the AHA Centre throughout the preceding five years.