ASEAN Secretariat, 28 January 2011

Indonesia looks forward to hosting the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre). The message was conveyed yesterday by the Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, H.R. Agung Laksono, from Badan Pengkajian dan Penerapan Teknologi (Agency for the Assessment and Application Technology), in Jakarta, the future premise of the Centre.

AHA Centre will be the regional hub for information and knowledge for disaster management. It will also serve as the centre point for mobilisation of resources to disaster affected areas, act as the coordination engine to ensure ASEAN’s fast and collective response to disasters within the ASEAN region and serve as a centre of excellence for disaster management in the ASEAN region. The Centre is expected to be officially launched and operational in the first half of this year.

The establishment of AHA Centre is part of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER)’s mandate, entered into force in December 2009. AADMER is the region’s response to the need for a regional disaster management framework. In 2007, meanwhile, ASEAN Foreign Ministers agreed that the Centre shall be based in Indonesia.

The Welfare Ministry’s Executive Secretary, Indroyono Soesilo, further announced that in addition to providing the space and facilities for the Centre, Indonesia will also contribute USD 600,000 for 2011. This initiative reaffirms Indonesia’s commitment as the host country for the AHA Centre. Indonesia set up a National Task Force under the coordination of Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare in October 2010 to expedite the establishment of the AHA Centre and to realise Indonesia’s commitment as the host country for the Centre.

The Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs, Bagas Hapsoro, said that the decision to establish the AHA Centre in Indonesia proves “ASEAN has collective confidence in Indonesia’s role in promoting regional collaboration in disaster management.” He further said, “the momentum of establishing the Centre needs to be maintained as Dialogue Partners have expressed interest to support its establishment and operation.” DSG Bagas also expressed his appreciation for the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management for laying the groundwork.

Also present at the event was the Welfare Ministry’s Deputy Minister, Admiral Willem Rampangilei, and the Executive Secretary of Indonesian National Task Force for the AHA Centre, Dr William Sabandar. The event was also attended by the Committee of Permanent Representatives of ASEAN members of Jakarta-based diplomatic corps and the media.