Brunei supports ‘One ASEAN’ approach to disaster management

James Kon

Brunei Darussalam is committed to strengthening and improving the spirit of ‘One ASEAN One Response’ while continuing to support initiatives that strengthen regional collaboration in disaster response, including civil military coordination.

This was said by Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong during the 8th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM) and the 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (COP to AADMER) via virtual teleconference yesterday.

“Brunei Darussalam welcomes greater synergy between initiatives in disaster risk reduction and current challenges and emerging threats. We note with appreciation that there have been increasing ASEAN activities in promoting a better understanding of how these areas can be mutually reinforcing.”

The meeting discussed approaches in further strengthening the ASEAN response in addressing disasters and assess the implementation of ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) towards realising the aspiration of building a safe and disaster resilient community.

On the domestic front, the minister, who attended the meeting at the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), said, “We will continue to conduct initiatives to strengthen our national capacities in responding to disaster nationally and regionally.”

The minister said as a follow-up to the Disaster Preparedness Training Coordinator Training programme first conducted in 2019, a youth forum and a workshop on climate ‘Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction’ was held earlier this month.

“The forum and workshop sought to address the growing concern of climate change and the need to synergise climate change adaptation initiatives with disaster risk reduction to mitigate its impacts as well as the importance our youth play in these initiatives.”

He added that the community-based disaster risk management programme conducted since 2010 will continue along with the public health safety and security programmes at the CAE Multi-Purpose Training Centre (MPTC).

Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar bin Haji Apong shows the spirit of ‘One ASEAN One Response’ during the meeting

“We hope that by conducting these programmes, we can build a greater disaster-resilient community and become better prepared to face disasters,” he said.

With regard to COVID-19 response, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar said, “We experienced and continue to experience public health emergencies.

“In the case of Brunei Darussalam, we learnt how vital disaster management systems and mechanisms are to support the national response to public health emergencies, illustrating the importance of the disaster management sector to continuously adapt to enhance response and preparedness for emerging multi-hazard and large-scale disasters.”

He also shared the role of Brunei Darussalam’s NDMC in tackling the pandemic:

“The first COVID-19 case was recorded in the country on March 9. The NDMC assisted the Ministry of Health (MoH) as a supporting agency in a non-medical aspect for the preparation of designated monitoring centres for quarantine.

“As a coordinating agency, NDMC ensured the risk of the virus could be curbed through the support and coordination of non-medical assistance to strengthen the preparedness measures and action of the MoH.”

ASEAN ministers responsible for disaster management attended the meeting themed ‘Advancing transformation towards a safer, adaptive, inclusive and resilient ASEAN and realising our vision as the global leader in disaster management’.

Meanwhile, the second edition of ASEAN-ESCAP Joint Study on Drought: Ready for the Dry Years: Building Resilience to Drought in South East Asia was also launched.

The document was one of the studies carried out by ASEAN with cooperation of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) aimed at assessing the impact of drought to the socio economy in the region.

ASEAN ministers of environment attended the launch, joined by Deputy Minister of Development Dato Seri Paduka Ar Haji Marzuke bin Haji Mohsin representing Brunei Darussalam.

The meeting also saw the approval of the AADMER Work Programme 2021-2025, a regional framework document for cooperation, coordination, technical assistance and mobilisation of resources in disaster management for the coming five years.