Disaster proofing micro-enterprise

26 Jun 2014

 Enterprise Development Facilitators working with entrepreneurs to complete a seasonal calendar of natural hazards

When we talk about disaster risk management we so rarely talk about how to help safeguard small businesses from the impacts of disaster

Charikot, 21 June 2014 – When a disaster happens we find ourselves measuring its impact in lives. What is often not considered is the toll it has taken on the livelihoods of those that survive, and the resultant significant and widespread human suffering that will ripple through the economy of municipality, a region, or even an entire nation. The Ministry of Home Affairs Nepal estimates, in 2013 alone, that the country suffered NRs. 342,592,782 of direct losses as a result of disaster – approximately 2 percent of total GDP.

In developing countries an average of 80 percent of the economy is comprised of small, medium and micro-enterprises. Nepal is no exception. Yet when we talk about disaster risk management we so rarely talk about how to help safeguard these small businesses from the impacts of disaster. Disasters are responsible for destroying land, crops, livestock, buildings, equipment, supply chains, and other assets every year, contributing to the impoverishment of many who may lose everything. The impact of disaster in Nepal acts as a detractor from long-term poverty alleviation and broader economic development of the entire country.

This is what a recent initiative of UNDP Nepal aims to address. The Disaster Resilient Livelihood Initiative is a pilot project to develop the synergy between UNDP Nepal’s Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) and its Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Programme (CDRMP). Through this initiative, UNDP is attempting to harness the expertise of its disaster risk management experts to increase the awareness and preparedness the micro-enterprises it supports, along with the Government of Nepal, through their joint flagship poverty alleviation programme, MEDEP. The hope is that this will empower micro-entrepreneurs to protect their businesses for natural hazard. Likewise, it is also using MEDEP professional’s enterprise development expertise to help improve the livelihood outcomes of CDRMP’s risk reduction interventions.

As a part of this project, a training session was held recently in Charikot, Dolakha for 16 participants – 14 Enterprise Development Facilitators (EDFs) working with MEDEP and two government officials – on “Disaster Proofing Your Business,” the first of its kind in Nepal. Participants were familiarized with the basics of disaster risk management, as well as risk assessment for micro-enterprise and community level mitigation and adaptation measures. The purpose of the training is to enable the EDFs to support potential and existing micro-entrepreneurs to identify factors that might increase their risks and formulate plans and strategies to adapt to, mitigate and prevent those risks were possible, and prepare for ways to continue their business in the face of natural hazards that cannot be avoided. The support will include passing on valuable lessons on risk reduction to all entrepreneurs and incorporation of disaster risk management concepts into EDF’s regular training and business counselling duties.

Dolakha has been identified as the pilot district for this initiative. The plan is to replicate in other districts in the near future.

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