SMEs must look into their disaster preparedness | SupportBiz

Human Resources

SMEs must look into their disaster preparedness

Dr. Angeli Qwatra, disaster management and medical rescue management expert; and the founder chairman of Philanthrope spoke to SupportBiz about disaster management planning among Indian businesses.

“Although, the subject is very sensitive for Indian SMEs, they are not giving proper attention to disaster management as a subject,”Qwatra said. Edited excerpts:

According to you, what are the key demands for disaster preparedness?

Natural and human induced disasters are on the rise all over the globe, in their magnitude, complexity, and frequency, causing great damage to society and environment and thereby creating an adverse impact on the economy and the industry. It is estimated that losses due to natural disaster are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in the developing countries than in the developed ones. India loses two percent of its GDP because of such disasters. Industry is often at the frontline of these loses as most industrial installations in India are ill equipped to deal with emergency response.

What is the status of DR planning and preparedness among Indian SMEs?

It is very sad that willingness is missing among businesses. Disaster planning and its preparedness are confined to paperworked, which are shelved until a disaster occurs. There is little realization that plans need to be practiced and improved upon. Plans are useless if there are no adequate resources to carry out the plans and those assigned responsibilities do not know what to do when disasters occur.

What actions are needed in this direction?

There is a strong need for an outlook change towards disaster planning. Another anomaly in disaster preparedness is the top-down approach instead of a collaborative approach which has led to compliance-oriented mind-set and lack of sense of ownership among those involved in responding to the disasters.

We need to shift from a relief centric approach, to, a regime, anticipating the importance of preparedness and mitigation, to build a safer environment.

What is the relevance of emergency preparedness for manufacturing or labour intensive businesses?

Knowledge on emergency help measures is very low even among the educated class in India. This often lead to accidents or injuries being handled wrongly. Through our programs we want to give people the knowledge and assurance to be able to act quickly, confidently and effectively in an emergency - a situation that could mean the difference between life and death.

What must be the approach towards disaster planning and preparedness by SMEs?

This preparedness must be considered as a process. The problem occurs when entrepreneurs or the top managements considers this aspect as just a formality or non-priority area. Businesses often take to such planning for the sake of getting some compliance certificates. But if regular mock drills are organized and a sense of interest towards disaster preparations is developed among the employees, workers and management, then this can be a great value for the company.