en ASEAN member countries were represented this week at the opening of a new disaster response center in the Philippines, spearheaded by the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, or AHA Centre.
To bolster the facility’s response capacity, global humanitarian aid organization Direct Relief committed $500,000 in funding for the procurement and stockpiling of essential emergency materials for deployment in emergencies throughout the ASEAN region.
“For disaster-prone areas, the lessons of preparation, resiliency, and prevention need not be learned again,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief. “That’s why Direct Relief is so very pleased to support these important strengthening efforts with the AHA Centre, which will ensure more people receive support when they most need it.”
“Coordination, collaboration, and partnerships are the cornerstones of effective emergency response operations. It is for these reasons that we continuously expand and broaden our partnership with key players in the humanitarian sector,” said Adelina Kamal, AHA Centre Executive Director.
Kamal added that Direct Relief, which signed a formal agreement with ASEAN’s AHA Centre three years ago, is an important partner for AHA Centre on key initiatives, including during the Central Sulawesi earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia in 2018. “We are positive that this partnership will be one of the most enduring and successful engagements and for this, we are looking forward to a stronger collaboration with Direct Relief,” she said.
In addition to the strategic stockpile located in the Philippines, ASEAN is establishing a network of DELSA stockpiles in Malaysia and Thailand. Direct Relief is also funding and providing disaster relief items in both Malaysia and the Philippines, and has provided medical aid deployed to disasters by the AHA Centre, working with the Malaysian Air Force, from the Malaysian facility.
The new warehouse is strategically located in the Philippines and will enable rapid response to the region’s frequent natural disasters, including typhoons, flooding, landslides and earthquakes.
The Philippines is at high risk from cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires. Since 1990, the Philippines has been affected by 565 natural disasters that have claimed the lives of some 70,000 Filipinos and caused an estimated $23 billion dollars in damages, according to the World Bank.
Working with ASEAN, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), and the AHA Centre, Direct Relief will help ensure that high priority relief items are ready to go before a disaster occurs. Similar to Direct Relief’s Hurricane Preparedness Program, where strategic stockpiles of medical aid are pre-positioned in hurricane-prone areas, the strategic stockpiles in the ASEAN region will enable rapid response to disasters.