Sri Lanka prepares business continuity plans in disaster prone areas

The Sri Lankan government and corporate sector are discussing business continuity plans for disaster prone zones and closer integration of companies whose presence on the ground could prove useful during crises.

A ‘National Disaster Management Plan 2018-2022’ is being prepared, according to Ministry of Disaster Management secretary S. S. Miyanawala, along with a national emergency operation plan.

These initiatives will streamline the government approach in reducing disaster impacts in future, he told a private sector consultation with the ministry on how businesses can better prepare for extreme weather events and disasters.

The talks will lead to collaborative public-private sector work in the future on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction’, he told the meeting held by the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Sri Lanka (A-PAD) with the Ministry of Disaster Management and United Nations Development Program.

This year it is estimated that the losses and damages from disasters are about Rs5 billion, Buddhika Hapuarachi, UNDP technical advisor, told the forum.

It is vital to have a mechanism within the government to capitalise on the potential of the private sector, Hapuarachchi said.
A national platform as proposed under international disaster management frameworks to better coordinate with the private sector to implement the government’s disaster risk reduction programme is being considered.

‘Area Business Continuity Management’ plans involving state organizations and companies are to be formulated in disaster prone economic zones and areas for corporate involvement.

A-PAD Country Director Firzan Hashim said the strength of the private sector on ground is huge and their businesses and local operations in disaster prone areas could be used by the Disaster Management Centre.

Past experience has shown that when a disaster occurs, the local government machinery gets overwhelmed as it has limited capacity.

This could be avoided if a district or divisional platform is created for the private sector to be engaged for their support to be optimized, Hashim said.

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