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Santam sponsors EWS in Southern Cape

Santam sponsors EWS in Southern Cape
12-09-12 / Staff Writer

Santam sponsors EWS in Southern Cape

The polycom, which is linked to the Eden Disaster Management Centre in George, has been installed on Sandkraal Road (just outside the George Police Station) and will give the local community and businesses access to emergency messages/alerts in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.

"With one of the worst years for weather-related catastrophes behind South Africans in 2012, damaging floods hitting Cape Town in August and Santam's crop insurance business adversely impacted by hail damage to summer crops in the Eastern region of the country earlier this year, the need to develop climate-resilient communities is critical," says Ray-ann Sedres, Head of Integrated Sustainability at Santam.

Extreme weather conditions are becoming the norm and Santam believesit is important for the South African insurance industry to develop meaningful ways of working with local and national government and for authorities to help communities to deal with increasing number of weather disasters.

"Municipalities are at the face of communities, and bear the responsibility of managing the ramifications of a disaster when it strikes. For this reason we're part of the Business-Adopt-A-Municipality (BAAM) initiative, a strategic partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG)"says Sedres.

The BAAM initiative aims to assist municipalities to improve service delivery and provide support when communities are affected by fires and floods and other catastrophes. The Eden District Municipality is one of five municipalities participating in the BAAM initiative sponsored by Santam, the others being Thulamela (Limpopo), Ulundi (KwaZulu-Natal), Mahikeng (North West) and Mbombela (Mpumalanga). Santam donated much needed fire-fighting equipment to each municipality earlier this year and is currently rolling out firefighting training with the support of the Fire Protection Association of Southern Africa (FPASA).

Sedres continues to explain that Santam conducted the Eden Study research in 2011, in the Southern Cape, where insurers have experienced an increase in losses due to volatile weather conditions. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

"Designed especially for the use of displaying warnings and alerts to the public, the EWD System functions in an outdoor environment such as on an open public area and transmits details of predicted looming severe weather and disasters," she adds.

The broadcast alerts will also benefit the greater community of George with Sandkraal Road being a popular taxi route linking to the N2.

At a special event held on Wednesday, 11 September, the newly installed system was unveiled to the community, and tested.Another will soon be installed in a further location in the Eden district later in the year.

Disaster management is vital in communities

For the Eden MDMC finding ways and means to mitigate levels of exposure to risk has been extremely important and has proven over the last three years that prevention and mitigation actions can be coordinated.

"We are extremely proud of this new EWD System as this will assist us in disseminating important weather alerts to our community and help us to identify risks and manage mitigation measures on the ground,” says Gerhard Otto, Manager of Eden MDMC."Sedres adds, "We operate in a challenging environment. To ensure business continuity in the aftermath of a disaster, risk management initiatives - involving government, business and municipalities - are essential to preserving lives, property and economic vitality."

"For us at Santam it is important to continue the journey to work with others in developing solutions that promote a more resilient landscape and manage climate risks," concludes Sedres.

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