The findings brought to light by the demand survey on disaster microinsurance in Guwahati city of Assam, India were worth sharing with relevant stakeholders. The survey revealed that as risk is increasing over time with increasing frequency and extremes of weather related events due to climate change, the ability of urban small business to face these challenges is missing. This was confirmed during the demand survey when small business owners explained their struggles without any support from the public or private sector. Disaster Micro Insurance is a pressing need for these small businesses, but no such product currently exists.
A roundtable conference was organized by the project team with the objectives of moving towards a well-designed micro disaster insurance product and to discuss the findings of the survey. The roundtable shared the key findings of the survey conducted with the small businesses and the needs that emerged after the analysis. These findings will feed into the preparation of the product for small businesses.
It was indeed an achievement for the project to have the State Disaster Management Authority attend the consultation with ownership and initiative. The one-day roundtable took place in the conference hall of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA, Government of Assam) with 38 participants from across various sectors including government officials from the state and district level disaster management authorities, public and private sector insurance companies, humanitarian agencies and representatives from small businesses.
The event was inaugurated by Mr. Ashim Kumar Chetia ACS, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, ASDMA. In his inaugural speech he emphasized urban risks and said “The biggest challenge in DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) for us has been the lack of coordination and contribution from all stakeholders. There is a need to work towards bridging this gap. The issues and challenges must be resolved with initiative and commitment from all stakeholders”. Mrs. Hazarika in her discussion on urban risk reduction highlighted efforts and initiatives of ASDMA and said “the overlap between disaster risk and climate risk cannot be ignored. The frequency of climatic events and rapid and uncontrolled urban development needs to be addressed by all stakeholders together. It is high time for climate compatible development”. Dr. Himansih Deb, Regional Manager, United India Insurance Company stressed upon the need for enhancing the knowledge and understanding among small businesses about the concept and importance of insurance products for the benefit of lower income groups. Mrs. Rupali Rabha, a small businesswoman from Bhangagarh, Guwahati said,”seasonal storms result in severe devastation in the market where we do business, almost everyone who suffer damage either uses his/her savings or resort by using informal credit”.
This consultation has revealed the existing plight of the small informal businesses in the context of disasters from varied perspectives and has laid the foundation for the evolution of innovative tools that will have the potential to address the multiple dimensions of risks suffered by these small businesses. The round table discussions helped the project build understanding. After the roundtable, the insurance companies that were present are now more sensitive towards this target group. The round table discussion provided an opportunity to raise awareness and arrive at an agreeable solution for reducing risk through disaster insurance for the urban small businessmen in Guwahati.
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