Natural disasters and business response | Sunday Observer

Natural disasters and business response

12 June, 2021

The Covid-19 challenge was compounded by the torrential rains in 10 districts ravaging assets and amplifying challenges for businesses. We don’t know what is next.

The frequency and magnitude of natural disasters are on the rise beyond comprehension, costing enormous amounts of money and also severely impacting the lives of humans, animals and the environment.  

Recovering from a disaster of this magnitude demands a huge effort and is usually a gradual process. Safety is the primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. The emotional toll that disaster brings can sometimes be even more devastating than the financial strains of damage and loss of home, business or personal property. The stress caused following a natural disaster can lead to burnout and physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. 

Action plan

Surely you need to develop an action plan - decide who’s going to do what and when. Summarise your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank or financiers to alleviate stress of any financial concerns, so  you will know to draw up your recovery plan after you have assessed the level of physical damage. Psychological recovery leads to physical, so start with a strong mind and emotional strength. Extended family and friends can help you – it makes a difference when you know you have people to share your emotions with. They and strong support networks that come into action in such situations can provide emotional and practical support. Share, explain and tell them exactly how they can help. 

Economic recovery

In the wake of climate-related disasters, rebuilding is never a matter of putting back the structures that were there before. It needs to address the intangible, too, beginning with carefully considered strategies for economic recovery.

In plotting a way forward for economic recoveries in the future, there are important and useful lessons to be learned from the past events and experiences.

Such disasters are often seen as providing a chance to “build back better” — better housing, roads, schools and hospitals for the long term.

Rebuilding housing and public infrastructure to higher standards of safety that reduce disaster risk is vital.  It minimises human and economic losses in future events and helps soften the fear and trauma of survivors as they re-emerge into social and economic life. Building back better is sometimes seen as an opportunity for a disaster-struck country to make a ‘developmental leap’ by creating, for instance, more solid infrastructure that would not have existed in the absence of the disaster. If this is not done in a way that matches the availability of local capabilities, however, recovery will falter. So ‘building back adequately’ could be what is most needed for ravaged economies.

Help others

The speed of recovery matters but quality of recovery is equally important as it’s the quality that will determine the rate of success.Devastation of this scale demands a coherent effort. The Government or any single organisation cannot single handedly help in this situation. Every single person has a contribution to make. Even the most developed countries need assistance for the affected from the non-affected in multiple ways.

We have already seen many heartwarming examples. Sri Lankans have repeatedly proved that we are a nation that naturally comes together leaving behind all differences to help each other. Helping another at a time of such need is the best thing a human can do. Do your utmost generously in kind, manpower and time. The underlying theme of sustainability is growing together for everyone’s well-being.