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The innovation is a small business disaster microinsurance programme to enhance recovery of local markets that play a critical role in providing goods and services to disaster-affected populations in urban settings. While the demand survey that is in progress in Odisha and Assam states of India, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) was adopted by 187 countries on March 18, 2015 at Sendai, Japan. Perhaps SFDRR offers a new vehicle and energy to take the idea of this innovation forward.

The analysis of the demand survey among small businesses in Odisha is in progress, however, preliminary data reveal clearly the limited understanding of disaster insurance at different levels. A further push at the regional level is required for effective planning, design and operations among policy makers and practitioners to increase awareness and understanding of risk financing. The project team raised the topic of risk transfer through microinsurance directly before, during and after SFDRR through a wide range of platforms with the focus to promote and collaborate on risk transfer through microinsurance. This also served to encourage integration of risk reduction and climate change adaptation appraches.

The Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies (IDMVS), University of Dhaka; and Duryog Nivaran, the South Asian initiative in Disaster Management organized a Round Table on “From Sendai to Dhaka: Regional Perspectives on Sendai Framework to Disaster Risk Reduction” in Dhaka University on April 2, 2015. IDMVS is a leading center of disaster risk reduction initiatives and Dhaka University was an appropriate host as the leading university in a high risk country.

The keynote speech was given by Mr. Mihir R. Bhatt, All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), India and Chair, Duryog Nivaran. He welcomed the SFDRR as well as thanked Margareta Wahlstrom of ISDR and Government of Japan for World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and enlisted areas for developing regional perspectives. This included, the role of new knowledge on risk and the use of science and technology for building resilience in South Asia. Issues of regional economic growth, demography, and city level governance came up in the discussion. Moderated by Mr. Muhammad Taher, Member of Duryog Nivaran, the panel of discussants included Dr. Mahbuba Nasrin, Director, IDMVS, Dhaka University; Ms. Cathrine Tranberg Haarsaker of UNDP Bangladesh; Ms. Dilruba Haider, Coordinator, Gender and Climate Change, UN Women, Bangladesh; NGO and civil society leaders joined.

One of the ideas that come up was to look at the private sector and its role in reducing disaster risk and promoting preparedness. The discussion covered the idea of microinsurance as a way to reduce risk as well as a way to be prepared. Four areas for action came up at the end which included preparing pilot projects and programmes in the region; negotiating risk and how it is or is not covered by new economic development, physical or other; new and agile instruments to finance microinsurance sector development; and further integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation  with insurance.

Dr. Mahbuba Nasrin pointed out the potential of women’s leadership in the region to reduce risks. Ms. Cathrine Tranberg built on the work of UNDP and suggested “risk informed” development in the region. Ms. Dilruba Haider argued for attracting new ideas and energies to address the long standing vulnerability of women and their work in South Asia. Dr. Soneji of Oxfam called for greater focus on demographic opportunity to reduce risk in the region.

Discussions focused on microinsurance and its use in SFDRR and the need for skills and services to help design microinsurance projects. It was decided to work out an action and research road map based on the discussions.

For the South Asian region frequently affected by natural disasters, risk transfer and insurance are key measures that can be employed to increase resilience in advance of these events and enhance recovery efforts in their aftermath. The current Humanitarian Innovation Funded project to explore disaster microinsruance for businesses is in line with the SFDRR as it studies a tool enable businesses and households to protect themselves against the financial losses brought by natural disasters.

A key component of this research will be how the insurance product further influences disaster risk reduction behavior among clients. This will be a measured outcome along with the primary financial outcomes. As the demand surveys progress and the product is developed with stakeholder consultation, the results of the survey will be released and the research will begin in earnest.

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