Indonesia and ASEAN usher in a new era of disaster readiness, response, and risk reduction

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January 29, 2021

Indonesia’s national government, the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), and Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) recently celebrated the completion of two life-saving technology projects. More than 70 stakeholders representing multiple ASEAN member states (AMS) and numerous national and international organizations attended the virtual InAWARE and Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS) handover ceremony—marking the beginning of a new era of disaster management capacity throughout the ASEAN region.

Developed in partnership with funding support from USAID and its Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, the technologies known as InAWARE and DMRS have been customized for the specific needs of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Organization (NDMO) Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB) and the regional AHA Centre, respectively. Both systems support hazard monitoring, disaster response, regional cooperation, and early warning.

“It’s been a privilege for the AHA Centre to work with Pacific Disaster Center under the ASEAN–U.S. cooperation since our birth, nine years ago. DMRS is powered by PDC’s DisasterAWARE technology and has been internalized and mainstreamed for the past nine years into our day-to-day disaster monitoring and response operation,” said AHA Centre Executive Director Adelina Kamal. “It has allowed us to perform our key function as the operational coordination engine for the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response,” Kamal explained.

The head of BNPB’s Emergency Operations Center Bambang Surya Putra dovetailed with Kamal’s remarks saying the partnership with the AHA Centre and PDC has been key for their operations. “We have been able to use InAWARE for our COVID-19 response, improving the quality of our operations, linking field and manager level, and helping up provide good information to the public.” He said that InAWARE is the richest information source Indonesia has and, “we must continue to work side by side with our partners to further enhance the use of InAWARE within BNPB and BPBDs.”

The vital importance of partnership and cooperation for effective disaster risk reduction was brought to light during the handover ceremony with the attendance of numerous project partners. These included Indonesia’s provincial disaster management agencies (BPBDs), Indonesian government ministries, AMS NDMOs, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HOT), Yayasan Peta Bencana (YPB), the World Bank, and others. Since their initial deployments, both the InAWARE and DMRS systems have undergone significant upgrades through these partnerships, including the integration of crowdsourcing disaster data from YPB and critical lifeline data from HOT into InAWARE. Major modifications were also completed to extend use of DMRS to other AMS through language and data customizations.

PDC’s Deputy Executive Director Chris Chiesa highlighted the successes and outcomes of the InAWARE and DMRS projects, including:

  • Deployment and customization of InAWARE and upgrade of DMRS in line with PDC’s DisasterAWARE®;
  • Training of more than 1200 BNPB and BPBD staff in the use of InAWARE and 18 AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Program participants from across ASEAN in the use of DMRS;
  • Cultivation of a cadre of 62 BNPB and BPBD InAWARE trainers;
  • The development of DMRS and InAWARE eLearning platforms;
  • Integration of regional, national, and subnational data from authoritative sources into both InAWARE and DMRS; and
  • Synchronization of hazard data between DMRS and InAWARE.

According to Chiesa, although both projects with PDC are drawing to a close, the relationships with its partners are stronger than ever and will persist well into the future. Chiesa’s sentiments were echoed by PDC’s Executive Director Ray Shirkhodai who stated, “it’s a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with so many of the people joining us today. We see these relationships, developed over many years, as lasting partnerships and we look forward to continued engagement with you all.”

Closing the event, USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Advisor Harlan Hale further highlighted the importance of the partnerships developed during the projects. “Thinking about where we’ve all started together and where we are today, I wanted to speak to the power of partnership. The partnership between USAID, BNPB, AHA Centre, PDC, and all the partners including HOT, and Yayasan Peta Bencana, it’s remarkable to look and see what organizations with a common purpose, a common objective can do together, blending together their comparative advantages from government, nongovernment, education, and academia.”

The event also paid tribute to two BNPB staff (Sutopo Purwo Nugroho and Bernardus Wisnu Widjaja) who sadly passed away during the course of the InAWARE project. Both were instrumental in the inception and implementation of InAWARE activities and are dearly missed.

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