U.S. Supported System Brings a New Era in ASEAN Disaster Management and Response

USAID Regional Mission Director Dr. Michael Yates, center, takes notes during the launch event.
USAID Regional Mission Director Dr. Michael Yates, center, takes notes during the launch event.

Chiang Mai, Thailand:  A team of U.S.-supported international specialists has recently completed an eight month installation of a new state-of-the-art disaster monitoring and response system for ASEAN at the Jakarta-based ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre).  The installation was supported by the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.

The ASEAN Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS) was officially launched today at a gathering of ASEAN’s senior disaster management officials, ASEAN Dialogue Partners and international organizations at the 21st ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management meeting. The U.S. delegation was headed by Dr. Michael Yates, USAID Regional Mission Director.

The system provides streams of data on hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, typhoons, forest fires, and other natural disasters from all over ASEAN, combining them into one interface for disaster monitoring and decision making.  AHA Centre operators can immediately see the big picture, which improves response times and leads to more efficient use of relief resources.

“Susceptibility to natural disasters that exact substantial human and financial costs is a major vulnerability of this region, and ASEAN has shown great leadership in developing regional approaches to facilitating trans-border cooperation in emergency preparedness and response,” added David Carden, U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN. “The DMRS system now operational at the AHA Centre will, if fully utilized by ASEAN member states, save lives and resources.  The United States is honored to have supported this important ASEAN initiative.”

The DMRS fulfills U.S. President Barack Obama’s offer of support for an ASEAN multi-hazard early warning system during his inaugural meeting with ASEAN leaders in 2009. The AHA Centre, working closely with the ASEAN Secretariat, has welcomed assistance from the United States and from other ASEAN Dialogue Partners in advancing its disaster management capabilities.

“We could not have been more proud to collaborate on such an important regional project”, said Mr. Ray Shirkhodai, Executive Director of the U.S.-based Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), who supplied the technical team and the operational software, which is based on the PDC’s DisasterAWARE platform.

USAID will bring disaster management action officers from across ASEAN together in Jakarta for a three-day Training of Trainers on the system by the PDC experts at the end of January.

“We offer our deepest appreciation to the U.S. Government said Mr. Said Faisal, Executive Director of the AHA Centre.  “This system has already proved effective in monitoring the movement of Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines last month.”