The tragic earthquake and tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi are stark reminders for us all that Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions.
This is why the European Union has today signed a EUR 10 million financing agreement in Brussels to support ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and its Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre).
The support is designed to help reduce the economic, social, physical and environmental costs that disasters bring, along with the highest cost of all: loss of life. It will encourage regional and international cooperation, so that joint disaster response improves and best practices can be shared more freely between Asia and Europe. The new programme implementing the support, expected to start in early 2019, reflects the "ASEAN Vision 2025 on Disaster Management", promoting the region’s resilience.
Moreover, the new programme will boost capacity at the AHA Centre and make ASEAN’s Emergency Response Mechanism more robust. In doing so, it will build upon several past EU disaster management and response projects in the region.
Ten ASEAN Member States set up the inter-governmental AHA Centre on 17 November 2011 to step up regional disaster management cooperation and coordination between them and with relevant international organisations. Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the AHA Centre manages ASEAN’s Disaster Emergency Logistics System, or DELSA, so that ASEAN relief items can be deployed rapidly from within and for ASEAN Member States.
In the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami on Indonesia's island of Sulawesi, the AHA Centre was among the first humanitarian agencies to arrive on site and actively assist the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency in coordinating the humanitarian aid. It also played an essential role in bridging the communication gap with external parties seeking to provide humanitarian assistance.