Lessons from past epidemics, natural disasters

Business maps out post-pandemic resilient future

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a harsh blow to businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean but the private sector has a vital role to play in helping people recover from the crisis and adapt to the new normality, said industry experts.

Implementing disaster risk reduction plans will be top of the list for many companies as they look to rebuild their customer bases, supply chains and distribution networks in the wake of the crisis, which has forced many to shed staff and others into bankruptcy.

“The pandemic will reconfigure the entire world and all sectors. It is clear that we will have to reinvent ourselves”, Martha Herrera, president of the Mexican branch of The Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE), said in an interview.

“All sectors must be more forceful in evaluating the response”, said Herrera, whose organisation is backed by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

While many of the region’s biggest firms had invested in business contingency and disaster risk management plans to deal with events such as cyber-attacks, hurricanes or earthquakes, few were prepared to cope with a pandemic, said business experts…


Lessons from past epidemics, natural disasters

An epidemic does not fall within the purview of the disaster management sector, though in terms of scale and suffering, it should. Ironically, in India, disaster response preparedness still means rebuilding what has been destroyed.

The world is experiencing one of the most destructive and profound economic shocks in recent history in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The damage the virus is unleashing is only by way of human infection — it will not affect the infrastructure like other natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes do.

Yet, the chaos COVID-19 has brought is more devastating than previous occurred catastrophes.

India has a robust legal framework for disaster management, yet reports are replete with gaps in response and preparedness to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. One of India’s primary weapons against COVID- is a 123-year-old colonial legislation — the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

While it empowers officials to enter any house and forcibly examine a suspected sick person, it does not authorise the government to enforce a lockdown or even screen passengers at airports. There was no air travel when the law was enacted to deal with bubonic plague outbreak in India’s commercial capital, Mumbai. But authorities soon found a way forward…


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