The 2nd Training for ASCEND Competency Assessors: Synergising the strengths and efforts of various relevant stakeholders 

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As a step to ensure the success of the upcoming 2024 ASCEND certification assessments, the AHA Centre, in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) of Malaysia, successfully carried out the 2nd Training for ASCEND Competency Assessors from 19 to 23 February 2024 in Penang, Malaysia. 

The activity commenced with opening remarks from the host, Mr. Meor Ismail Bin Meor Akim, Deputy Director General of NADMA Malaysia, and Mr. Lee Yam Ming, Executive Director of the AHA Centre. In his opening remarks, Mr. Ismail emphasised the importance of this training as a collective effort to strengthen the disaster response mechanism and foster greater resilience across the ASEAN Member States. “Throughout this training, we have the opportunity to delve into the intricacies of ASEAN standards and certification, equipping ourselves with the necessary skills and knowledge to assess and ensure the competency of disaster management experts.” 

Adding to this, Mr. Lee Yam Ming emphasised on the objectives of the training, especially on expanding the pool of assessors to include disaster management practitioners from different organisations and backgrounds to supplement the first batch of assessors from the National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs). “We strongly believe that one of the key factors in making the ASCEND certification programme a success is to synergise the strengths and efforts of various relevant stakeholders. This is why we also extend the invitation to non-NDMOs to form a diverse group of competent assessors capable of conducting assessments in the future.” 

Attended by participants from a diverse array of backgrounds representing different NDMOs, various non-government organisations, academic institutions, and the AHA Centre partners, this diversity not only guarantees that there are enough qualified assessors for the upcoming assessments, but also ensures a vibrant exchange of perspectives and experiences during the programme. 

Over the course of five days, participants immersed themselves in workshop and group discussions aimed for them to 1) understand the procedure and mechanism of the ASCEND competency assessment process; 2) plan assessment activities and processes; 3) assess competence; 4) participate in the assessment validation; and 5) design and develop assessment tool. Throughout the activity, the participants willingly contributed their expertise and engaged in discussions, fostering a dynamic learning environment. The 35 graduates of this training will then be invited as competency assessors in the subsequent ASCEND certification assessments. 

Concluding the training, Mr. Mohamed Azriza Bin Abdul Karim, Senior Chief Assistant Director of NADMA Malaysia, delivered his closing remarks encapsulating the spirit of collaboration and dedication that defined the training. Mr. Azriza expressed gratitude for the collective efforts invested by all participants, facilitators, and organisers, emphasising, “Our interactions during this training have exemplified the principle of mutuality – the understanding, cooperation, and mutual support that are essential in effective disaster management. By fostering a culture of collaboration and capacity building, we have strengthened our ability to respond to disasters with efficiency and compassion,” he concluded. 

Supported by the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF) and facilitators from the CKP-CBT Centre, The Filipino Hospitality (TFH), Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Philippines, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and the Resilience Development Initiative (RDI)s, the 2nd Training for ASCEND Competency Assessors stands as a testament to the collective commitment of ASEAN Member States and international partners to strengthen disaster management capacities across the region. With enhanced competencies, expanded networks, and renewed determination, participants depart from the event poised to contribute meaningfully to the upcoming ASCEND certification assessments and, ultimately, to the broader goal of building a safer and more resilient ASEAN community.