The report, carried out by the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre, claims that private corporations with more innovative ideas can play an important role to improve the region’s disaster response capability.

JAKARTA: ASEAN needs to increase its ability to mobilise more resources from various sectors to achieve a more comprehensive and faster response to natural disasters in the region, according to a new report analysing the region’s response to Super Typhoon Haiyan.

The report, carried out by the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre (AHA Centre) which is the region’s emergency relief group, claims that private corporations with more innovative ideas can play an important role to improve the region’s disaster response capability.

Huge tracts of land were destroyed and more than 8,000 people were left dead or missing after Haiyan devastated central Philippine provinces in November 2013 in the biggest test ever faced by ASEAN’s three-year-old disaster and emergency response group.

Based in Jakarta, AHA Centre coordinates emergency and relief efforts across ASEAN member states. “When we reflect back on the Haiyan experience, one of the things that we need to work on more and more is mobilising resources from the whole of ASEAN – different partners, different stakeholders – to be united in responding to a disaster when it happens in the ASEAN region,” said AHA Centre chief Said Faisal.

The AHA Centre’s 88-page report on its operations during Typhoon Haiyan will serve as a baseline from which the group will aim to coordinate a multi-faceted response to future disasters in ASEAN. While the region’s militaries have played a key role in large-scale disaster operations, AHA Centre says the private sector can also play a significant role.

“Private sectors have resources, private sectors have talent and private sectors have a lot of better ideas, innovation, that we believe are important in responding in the region, in ASEAN,” said Mr Faisal.

Humanitarian experts point out that most of the military assets which are deployed for disaster response situations are available within the private sector domain. Therefore, the task at hand is to successfully integrate the private sector into the region’s emergency and relief mechanism to ensure a more concerted, comprehensive and innovative response.

Asia, where about 70 per cent of the world’s natural disasters happen, is also the growth engine of the world’s economy, fuelled by significant private sector contributions. If harnessed correctly, its abundant resources and capabilities could form a powerful force in the domain of ASEAN humanitarian assistance.

– CNA/ec