ASCEND Toolbox Consultation Workshop with the AHA Centre Partners

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From 31 August until 2 September 2021, the ASEAN Standards and Certification for Experts in Disaster Management (ASCEND) Project has passed one of its milestones by holding the ASCEND Toolbox Consultation Workshop. The three-day event was substantial for developing a regionally recognised certification programme for professionals in disaster management. The workshop focused on gathering inputs to improve the ASCEND learner’s and trainer’s guides which will serve as part of the regional references for operationalising the ASCEND certification programme.

“This workshop is part of our efforts to prepare all necessary documents and systems before testing them in trial simulation planned for next year and the actual certification process afterwards. Should this pilot implementation resulting in a satisfying outcome, this model that we are currently developing in Indonesia will also be replicated to the other ASEAN Member States.” Mr Berton Pandjaitan, Indonesia Co-Chair of ASCEND Project Steering Committee and the Head of BNPB Training and Education Center, said in his opening speech on 31 August 2021, marking the start of the ASCEND Toolbox Consultation Workshop.

ASCEND itself is an ongoing project under the AHA Centre that seeks to create a regionally recognised certification programme for professionals in disaster management to ensure and promote higher standards and quality in managing disasters in the region. But beforehand, a set of technical requirements need to be developed. One of which is the ASCEND Toolbox that will serve as the primary regional reference for operationalising the ASCEND programme. The Toolbox includes (1) Standard Operating Procedure; (2) Certification Schemes; (3) Assessor’s Guides; (4) Trainer’s Guides; (5) Learner’s Guides.

The ASCEND Toolbox Consultation Workshop was held to gather feedback and input on improving the overall structure, format/style, and general content from the 2 out of 5 documents in the Toolbox: Learner’s Guides and the Trainer’s Guides. Working group discussion sessions were conducted for each profession over the course of three days to gather inputs and suggestions from the participants. In addition to the group discussion, participants were also able to provide written inputs in the shared documents.

The participants of the workshop are representatives from Mercy Malaysia, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), MapAction, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Plan International, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), International Organization for Migration (IOM), Catholic Relief Services, Adventist Development & Relief Agency Indonesia (ADRA Indonesia), and the AHA Centre. The participants, who had chosen the profession they wished to review, actively provided their suggestions and shared their experiences during discussion sessions and provided valuable written input on the documents.

Even though it is held online due to the pandemic, the workshop ran smoothly and yielded fruitful results. The ASCEND development still has a long way ahead. However, this workshop moved ASEAN one step closer to its objective of creating regionally recognised certified professionals in disaster management.