Given the significant infrastructure investment needed across emerging economies, public infrastructure projects play a vital role in enhancing resilience, particularly among vulnerable communities. This is particularly important in light of the increasing intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, which place strain on public resources and increase the burden on insurers.

However, investors and insurers are often only included in the development of public infrastructure once most of the major decisions have already been made, limiting their potential contribution. The result is often unsustainable, unfinanceable and uninsurable public infrastructure projects that inevitably impact on service delivery for local communities.

Harnessing the existing expertise of the insurance industry could help to promote improved delivery and support of public infrastructure projects. For insurers, more stable local communities would translate into a potential growth in demand for insurance and other risk management products.

Santam has heeded this approach. Over the last few years, Santam has expanded its disaster risk management to embrace a more proactive, shared-risk management method, which takes into account the potential impact of climate change and weather-related catastrophes on individuals, organisations and society.

This approach is encapsulated in its Partnerships for Risk and Resilience Programme (P4RR), through which Santam aims to:

  • Drive community risk awareness through partnerships to address the drivers of risk and inculcate appropriate risk response behaviour;
  • Partner with appropriate entities to increase capacity for disaster response and disaster relief in vulnerable communities;
  • Assist with the improvement of technology to enable communities to use early warning systems to drive proactive risk management behaviour; and
  • Address the causes of fire risks in communities by providing safer alternatives, and where appropriate, assist with the necessary equipment to improve their awareness services in communities. This includes, for example, a neighbourhood watch.

In 2016, Santam installed smoke alarms in vulnerable communities in the Sedibeng, Sarah Baartman and Ehlanzeni Districts in South Africa. The installation of these smoke alarms has since resulted in a significant reduction in loss of life due to fires among vulnerable communities, especially in informal settlements. The programme has been expanded to assist a total of 53 local municipalities over the next five years. This will positively impact the lives of 5 million people between now and 2020.

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