Businesses in Fiji work on disaster resilience

May 29, 2017

By Samisoni Pareti

Cancun, Mexico — Fiji’s private sector has joined a groundbreaking initiative aimed at strengthening the resilience of businesses during times of disasters.

Called the Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council (FBDRC), the scheme is promoting the adoption of business continuity plans of Council members. Membership is open to businesses big and small, and according to its inaugural chair, Digicel Fiji’s executive Morika Hunter, the concept will be extended to other islands in the Pacific.

Ms Hunter outlined the objectives of the FBDRC to delegates at the United Nations conference on disaster risk reductions that is being held in this Mexican city this week. 
She said with the support of the Pacific Community (SPC) and PIPSO, the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation, PBDRC has produced a toolkit to assist businesses increase their disaster resilience.

“We also have a train the trainers programme where we will have trainers go out to members including those in remote areas including small and medium enterprises to make sure that they have a business continuity plan in place and they know how to engage or use the plan. Everyone can have a plan but how to actually engage it and make sure employees are aware of these plans. How do we prepare or respond to disasters if we don’t know what the plan is, and how do we integrate this plan with government’s and what government can provide.”
She said the experience of Category Five Tropical Cyclone that caused catastrophic losses in Fiji in February last year underscored the need for the private sector to improve its resilience to disasters. According to Ms Hunter, businesses in Fiji lost F$350 million (US$168m) from the monster storm.

“Another step we have taken is to put in place long term agreements. These are LTAs that we are putting in place for the likes of the World Food Programme for example. What we’ve done is to look at the absolute needs post-disaster. What are some of the equipment, what are some of the supplies that are typically pushed into a country post-disaster? We had a look at the list and we ask what can we as the private sector provide in country? Why do we have to bring all of these in? If we need tarpaulins for example, do we have anyone in the private sector that has thousands of tarpaulins in stock?”

With the Fiji Business Disaster Resilience Council up and running, the mobile telephone company executive said the initiative would now expand to the region. Teams have already visited Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, said Ms Hunter.

Source: Island Business

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