Municipalities are at the forefront of disaster management, but some are under-resourced and ill-equipped to adequately respond to the scale and frequency of fires and natural disasters which are adding pressure to an already constrained resource environment. In 2012, Santam identified an opportunity to collaborate with government on their mutual interest of mitigating and managing disasters. Since then, Santam has successfully partnered with four district municipalities to build resilience in disaster risk management as part of its Partnerships for Risk and Resilience programme.
Santam’s partnerships with municipalities aim to pool public and private sector expertise and resources.
Ten insights for programmatic success
- The programme is aligned to Santam’s core business of risk management. Each partner is able to contribute their skills and expertise to create additional value for the business and society.
- The programme is mutually beneficial. Santam identifies municipalities where exposure to fire and flood risk is significant and where resources and capacity constraint might inhibit appropriate disaster response. In doing so, Santam is able to work with municipalities to reduce their exposure and build capacity to better manage risks, should they arise, thus limiting damages
- Santam’s partner selection process is proactive and strategic. It entails three criteria. Firstly, it identifies all municipalities that are ‘vulnerable but functional’ according to annual government classification of municipalities, increasing the likelihood that the municipalities will be receptive to support and benefit from the programme. Secondly, Santam identifies municipalities located in high-risk areas. This enables Santam to provide support where it is most needed, as well as creating the potential to gain a better understanding of risk profiles of strategic locations. Santam then overlays these municipalities onto the municipalities in which the business has the highest risk exposure and from which it receives the most claims. The municipalities which are common to all three criteria become targets for partnership selection.
- Santam’s approach to disaster risk management is both reactive and proactive – meeting short-term needs and supporting interventions around long-term risk mitigation and management. To help municipalities respond to the immediate needs arising from disasters, Santam has partnered with Red Cross SA to provide the much-needed recovery and response support to affected communities. Through strategic workshops and other capacity building initiatives, Santam has helped bolster the response capacity of municipalities. For example, at one of the workshops the Sedibeng municipality identified that it did not have a database or communication plan for how to incorporate previously trained volunteers and other relief organisations in their disaster response. In response, following workshops with relevant stakeholders, memorandums of understanding are signed by all parties detailing how they will be contacted and involved in future disaster responses. Retired head of Sedibeng’s disaster management department, Mr Sam Tlhapolosa, said “Santam made things easier for us. We were really struggling in provisions for relief. For example, when you get a call that eight shacks have burnt down, it’s likely that we’ve already given out all the blankets. Now, we are able to call on other stakeholders, including but not just Santam.”
- Stakeholder buy-in was secured early on. In the Sedibeng municipality, a public launch of the partnership included high- profile politicians, as well as government and community stakeholders. At the launch, Santam donated R1.4 million worth of protective wear – an area of need that the partnership identified as a ‘quick win’ to earn initial goodwill among the community.
- The approach is collaborative. In the areas of disaster response, collaboration and pooling resources is essential. Santam plays a key role in the partnership, by crowding in the resources of other corporates and associations, non-profit organisations and communities.
- The programme is consultative, starting with the design phase. Santam and municipalities participate in the design phase of the partnership on an equal footing. Referring to the memorandum of understanding between Sedibeng and Santam, Mr Tlhapolosa said “it is a living document, always open for changes when there are new challenges and improvements”.
- The programme is strongly rooted in existing policy frameworks and delivery structures. Santam has not tried to reinvent the wheel, but has built on existing structures and processes within the municipalities and communities.
- The programme is focused without being prescriptive. Santam is responsive to the needs of individual municipalities, while still providing solutions that fall within its main focus areas.
- Santam’s comprehensive initial involvement diminishes as the municipality takes ownership. The long-term strategy is for municipalities to become resilient, rather than reliant or dependent on Santam’s support. Core programme activities are to capacitate the municipalities, helping them to build internal systems and structures for better response to disasters that will outlast the partnership.
Santam’s staged approach to rolling out the programme is enabling it to incorporate valuable lessons into each successive partnership that is established.
Source details: Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2018
Topical: A case study on building resilient communities
Santam’s expertise lies in risk management and cover. Through its own business operations, as well as through its CSI programmes, the insurer has learnt valuable lessons about the risks that vulnerable communities face, where they lack capability and resources, and where Santam’s intervention would be most useful. The company uses its business skills to find innovative solutions to empower and mobilise communities through a holistic implementation of disaster and risk-reduction initiatives. Furthermore, by assisting vulnerable communities to manage and mitigate their risk, Santam is able to collect research data and minimise its own business risks.
The National Disaster Management Centre categorises municipalities into three groups: well-functioning, functioning but vulnerable, or dysfunctional. Drawing from this data, Santam, through its Partnership for Risk and Resilience programme, consults and collaborates with municipalities in the second category. The programme has five focus areas: to drive community risk awareness; to build and increase the capacity for disaster response and relief; data mapping in municipalities; exploring and providing alternative energy sources; and identifying fire hotspots. Not all focus areas are implemented in all municipalities.
Through the programme and in coordination with organisations such as the South African Red Cross, Santam provides fire and flood risk management training to municipal staff and community volunteers. To further mitigate risk, the company installed smoke detectors and early detection devices in fire hotspots. In some cases, firefighting equipment was also distributed.
A key priority in this programme is an inclusive, multi-stakeholder, community-driven process. To achieve this, all disaster risk reduction planning and projects are designed around the needs and priorities of communities, often as articulated in their Integrated Development Plans. Importantly, disaster risk management is prioritised at a local government level. This provides a welcome space for Santam to enter into strategic partnerships with local government disaster response units, as well as to collaborate with non-profit organisations and intermediaries.