The ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) was established in early 2003 following the decision of the ASEAN Standing Committee (ASC). The institutional mechanism (in the form of experts group) has existed since the ‘70s but was only strengthened towards 2003 with the elevation of the experts group into a full-fledged committee. The ACDM consists of heads of national agencies responsible for disaster management of ASEAN Member Countries. The ACDM assumes overall responsibility for coordinating and implementing the regional activities. The ACDM met for the first time in D ecember 2003.

The ASEAN Regional Programme on Disaster Management

In pursuing a region of disaster-resilient nations and safer communities, the ACDM has developed an ASEAN Regional Programme on Disaster Management (ARPDM) to provide a framework for cooperation for the period of 2004-2010. The ARPDM outlines ASEAN’s regional strategy on disaster management, as well as priority areas and activities for disaster reduction.

The ARPDM is also used as a platform for cooperation and collaboration with ASEAN Dialogue Partners and relevant international organisations. Ongoing partners of ACDM include: the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the Pacific Disaster Centre, the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, IFRC, Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), etc.

The ARPDM consists of 29 activities, which are categorised into five major components. To spearhead with the implementation, the ACDM has prioritised 5 out of 29 activities as priority projects: (i) Establishment of the ASEAN Response Action Plan; (ii) Refresher Courses/ Expertise Development; (iii) ASEAN Disaster Information Sharing and Communication Network (ASEAN DISCNet), i.e. Development of ACDM Website and NDMO Websites; and Publication of ASEAN Disaster Management Information Network (ADMIN) Newsletter; (iv) Partnerships with Relevant Organisations and NGOs; and Mobilising Financial Support and Resources; and (v) ASEAN Day for Disaster Management; and Enhancing Disaster Management Public Education and Awareness Programmes.

One of the priority projects under the ARPDM is the Establishment of an ASEAN Regional Disaster Management Framework. Under this, activities will include development of a regional agreement on disaster management and emergency response; development of standard operating procedures to operationalise disaster response mechanism under the agreement; enhancing quick response team of Member Countries; and conduct of simulation exercises.