Building partnerships


Building partnerships for risk and resilience 

Resilience is the outcome of a well-developed understanding of risk management. We are in the business of mitigating risk and building resilience in the societies in which we operate. Often the risks we insure for our clients are beyond our direct control – events such as hailstorms, floods and fires. To reduce the risk for our business and our clients, we have been engaging with government, municipalities, universities and other stakeholders to initiate projects to better understand and manage these risks.

In 2012, our research project in the Eden District Municipality to study the impact of risks related to climate change and the ability of insurance to adapt, was the winner of the Climate Change Leadership Awards (CCLA) in the financial services sector. The research was done in partnership with the CSIR, University of Cape Town and WWF. The Eden Project was followed by the SA Coastal Project, an experimental farm and weather station, as well as a collaborative endeavour to restore degraded catchments and improve livelihoods in Port Elizabeth. Direct research outputs included early warning SMS systems, and reporting and monitoring systems. Research has contributed to by-law amendments that mandate inclusion of flood data in development applications, community risk assessments and disaster response plans.

In 2012, we also signed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) in partnership with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to launch the Business-Adopt-A-Municipality (BAAM initiative).

Our objective with this initiative is to assist in strengthening the institutional and participatory development capacity of local municipalities to combat poverty on the ground. We do this by assisting service delivery and providing support to local government infrastructure, economic development and governance.

Santam’s Emthunzini Trust initially made funds available to support five municipalities:

  • Eden District Municipality (Western Cape)
  • Thulamela Local Municipality (Limpopo)
  • Ulundi Local Municipality (KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Mahikeng Local Municipality (previously Mafikeng Local Municipality) (North West)
  • Mbombela Local Municipality (Mpumalanga)

These municipalities were selected based on the vulnerability levels related to government requirements as well as potential impact on our business in terms of fire, flood and storm surge perils.

The first phase of BAAM, which rolled out in 2013 – 2014, involved donating firefighting equipment, and training in fire assessments, fire prevention and firefighting through “train the trainer” education programmes to drive community awareness of fire risk.

The second phase of BAAM addresses flood risk. The objective of the second phase is to understand the drivers of flooding, evaluate the capacity of the municipalities and communities to deal with the impact of floods, and propose recommendations to assist in dealing with these events more effectively. We also launched the Risk Node project in Ehlanzeni (Mpumalanga) to focus on flood management in 10 key municipal districts throughout South Africa.

BAAM was publicly recognised at the 2014 Presidential Local Government Summit, where President Jacob Zuma and former Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan acknowledged our efforts to work with government to mitigate rising systemic risk and to assist in strengthening the capacity of local municipalities through BAAM.

The number of high-risk local municipalities where we provide disaster risk management capability support increased from 15 in 2014 to 24 in 2015. Under BAAM, the flood risk phase commenced with a two-month awareness programme prior to the beginning of the rainy season in the northern parts of South Africa. Highlights include:

  • The Ehlanzeni District Municipality conducted disaster awareness training sessions for 100 traditional leaders to prevent, mitigate and reduce disasters.
  • The Thulamela Local Municipality initiated a community programme to raise awareness about measures to protect individuals and the community from floods.
  • The Eden District Municipality offered a theatre production that reached about 3 800 learners.

The Santam high-risk node initiative focused on the district municipalities where it experiences high flood risk exposure. Two districts were prioritised in 2015: Ehlanzeni (Mpumalanga) and Sarah Baartman (Eastern Cape).

In 2016, we expanded and accelerated the programme in response to government’s request for increased assistance to support dysfunctional municipalities at risk. The needs of vulnerable communities have also been increasing in these municipalities.

The Emthunzini Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Community Trust was approached for increased funding over the next five years to expand the programme from five to 53 local municipalities.

Now called the Partnership for Risk and Resilience programme, this initiative has the potential to positively impact the lives of over five million South Africans as it addresses the issues of disaster risk management, job creation, installation of early warning systems and ensures capacity in municipalities to improve service delivery.

The following municipalities were targeted in 2016:

  • Ehlanzeni District Municipality (five local municipalities)
  • Sarah Baartman District Municipality (seven district municipalities)
  • Sedibeng District Municipality (five local municipalities)

The objective is to target three district municipalities per annum until 2020. We plan to bring various partners on board to support the programme.

We are, for example, a private sector partner of Working on Fire that addresses the causes of runaway fires in South Africa, and helps communities to manage fires and extinguish small fires before they become devastating, all-engulfing blazes. Santam works with Working on Fire to lobby municipalities for safer building regulations, to educate communities on fire hazards and to better understand the specific fire risks of particular industries, communities and regions in South Africa. During 2016, we donated firefighting equipment worth R220 000 to the Makana Local Municipality Fire and Rescue Services. The equipment included skid units, fire branches, spades, hammers, protective clothing for firefighters, torches, spotlights and foam cans.

We are, for example, a private sector partner of Working on Fire that addresses the causes of runaway fires in South Africa, and helps communities to manage fires and extinguish small fires before they become devastating, all-engulfing blazes. Santam works with Working on Fire to lobby municipalities for safer building regulations, to educate communities on fire hazards and to better understand the specific fire risks of particular industries, communities and regions in South Africa. During 2016, we donated firefighting equipment worth R220 000 to the Makana Local Municipality Fire and Rescue Services. The equipment included skid units, fire branches, spades, hammers, protective clothing for firefighters, torches, spotlights and foam cans.


Risk and resilience partnerships in Africa

As the risk landscape evolves, we continuously monitor trends and changes that could materially impact risk profiles and claims patterns. Our approach encompasses end-to-end risk management, and we believe that investing in communities makes them more resilient and self-sufficient over the longer term.

In 2014, Santam initiated a process to explore how the general insurance industry in the region might best engage with infrastructure decision-makers in Africa, for example city engineers and planners. Sustainable city infrastructure is a critical element to enhance protection and readiness against possible disaster events such as fires and floods. Under the banner of “African Infrastructure Risk and Resilience”, a series of conversations and workshops took place through 2015 and 2016. The research included a two-day intensive workshop in Dar es Salaam in October 2016, with members of the insurance sector and Dar es Salaam city officials.

The Dar es Salaam city management initiative (City Innovation Platform for African Infrastructure Risk and Resilience) illustrates how collaboration can make a contribution towards attaining resilient, sustainable infrastructure.

Risk and resilience initiatives

Schools’ disaster awareness

Our schools’ disaster awareness programmes include helping children to become WaterWise with the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). We support the NSRI in providing its WaterWise education and awareness training programme to learners. The initial programme was rolled out in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality. WaterWise is an initiative to teach children around South Africa about water safety. The programme focuses on children from underprivileged communities under the age of 15 who are most at risk of fatal drowning. Supported by the National Department of Basic Education, the sessions take place on school premises, during a lesson period, at no charge to the schools.

The programme includes lessons on water safety, what to do and who to call in an emergency situation, how to rescue a peer and how to initiate bystander CPR. In 2017, we intend to roll out the programme in the Sedibeng District Municipality in Gauteng.

Learners from various high schools engage in debating competition in Ehlanzeni

More than 150 learners from various high schools in Ehlanzeni and Bohlabela District Municipalities participated in a Santam -sponsored debating competition titled “Disaster management is everyone’s business”. The competition was created to help communities understand, prepare for, respond to and recover from the impact of fires and floods.

The local social services and disaster management manager, Sphetho Mhlongo, thanked Santam for the sponsorship and indicated that they intend to expand the competition in future. The winners received various prizes, such as medals, tablets and trophies.

Santam sponsors a simulation of readiness exercise in Port Alfred

Santam sponsored a simulation of readiness exercise in Port Alfred (Ndlambe Local Municipality) to commemorate the International Day for Disaster Risk. The simulation featured an “accident” involving a school bus transporting school children. The participants were from Kuyasa Combined, Dambile Primary, Port Alfred Primary, Mtyobo Public Primary and Nomzamo Primary, as well as Stenden University. 

The exercise was spearheaded by the Sarah Baartman District Municipality and the Ndlambe Local Municipality, and was supported by Stenden University South Africa. Santam donated some of the equipment used in the “accident scene”. This included, among others, the radio equipment used to notify Ndlambe Fire Department of the “accident” and the equipment used to rescue the “injured” at the scene.

First-aid training

Santam sponsors disaster management volunteer training in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality.

Santam partnered with the Red Cross to provide risk management support and training to empower community volunteers, providing them with skills to reduce the impact of disasters in their communities. Training has been carried out in four local municipalities in the Sarah Baartman District Municipality in the Eastern Cape:

  • Hankey (Kouga Local Municipality)
  • Alexandria (Ndlambe Local Municipality)
  • Cookhouse (Blue Crane Route Local Municipality)
  • Storms River (Kou-Kamma Local Municipality)

Each of these areas has a large, historically disadvantaged population and is particularly vulnerable to flooding and fire, ranking high on the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) vulnerability index. Santam and Red Cross work in close partnership with the Disaster and Risk Management Unit of the municipality and with community leaders in identifying vulnerable areas and in implementing their programmes.

To date, the programme has trained 73 volunteers in first aid, basic firefighting and disaster management. The database of trained volunteers has been shared with each relevant municipality to ensure they remain up to date with their disaster response capabilities and capacity. In future, the Red Cross Society will roll out this training to the Sedibeng and Ehlanzeni District Municipalities. In 2016, Santam allocated R1 million to the partnership, and a further R1.2 million to continue the programme in 2017. 

Building firefighting capacity and provision of fire detection equipment

Santam handed over much-needed firefighting equipment worth R220 000 to the Makana Local Municipality Fire and Rescue Services in Grahamstown (Sarah Baartman District Municipality) in July 2016. The equipment included skid units, fire branches, spades, hammers, protective clothing for firefighters, torches, spotlights and foam cans.

Municipalities bear the responsibility of managing the ramifications of a disaster when it strikes. Their ability to not only respond but, more importantly, also mitigate the risks is required. Fire and fire protection systems, safety and security, building regulations and accessibility, adaptation to climate change and an increase in natural disasters all form part of systemic risks, which must be addressed in a collaborated effort.

William Welkom, the manager of the Makana Local Municipality Fire and Rescue Services, thanked Santam for their assistance through the donation of much-needed equipment. “Makana Local Municipality has experienced financial difficulties in recent years and were therefore unable to provide a capital budget for fire services to procure equipment. This equipment will greatly assist us to achieve our objectives by providing an efficient and effective quality firefighting service to the community of Makana,” Welkom said.

Provision of fire detection equipment

Over the last two years, 8 600 structural fires and 9 018 veld fires occurred in Thaba Chweu Local Municipality. Seven people lost their lives in these incidences.

Research has shown that the installation of smoke alarms as an early warning system has resulted in a significant reduction in loss of life due to fires among the most vulnerable communities, especially in the informal settlements. Incidents such as fires cause immense distress, and it is frequently the poorer communities that bear the brunt of damages and loss due to inadequate planning, training and limited resources. Such disasters have a negative impact on the livelihoods and the health and safety of people who live in informal settlements across our country.

A couple from the Simile informal settlement in Thaba Chweu, in Sabie outside Nelspruit, was one of the first beneficiaries of smoke alarms Santam sponsored for 1 000 homes in informal communities in the district. Ivy Malopi and Novunga Shadrack lost everything when their wooden house in the Simile informal settlement burned down in the early hours of the morning. Fortunately, they were visiting friends and no one was home. With the help of family, friends and the local municipality, the couple has since managed to build a new wooden home.

 The project in Thaba Chweu was launched on International Day for Disaster Risk in October 2016, which presents an opportunity to raise awareness around practical interventions such as identifying high-risk areas and the appropriate responses which can be factored into disaster management and planning when it comes to reducing the risks on the ground. Santam partnered with the Ehlanzeni District Municipality and Chubb Fire & Security to roll out this project in Thaba Chweu.

Clearing alien vegetation

Our partnership with a non-governmental organisation in Port Elizabeth to risk manage a fire protection plan for the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve and the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve in St Francis Bay has yielded good results in extending firebreaks, clearing the Reserve of alien regrowth and other fire protection mechanisms.

Santam partnered with FOSTER (Friends of St Francis Nature Areas) and donated R50 000 towards this project.

In 2012, residents in St Francis Bay, a seaside village some 90 kilometres south of Port Elizabeth, fought bravely, without fire engines and pressurised water, until support arrived, to stop raging fires that eventually left close to 80 houses ruined – a few of the houses burnt down in less than ten minutes. In the aftermath of the fires, the Kouga Local Municipality called it “the most devastating in the small town's history”. The extent of the blaze can be measured by the insured costs incurred. Santam settled all the claims, which was in the region of R40 million, either by replacing or repairing homes of various values ranging between R1 million and R16 million.

FOSTER is a non-governmental organisation that has been in existence for 20 years. Their focus is on the management of a network of approximately 250 ha of nature reserve on behalf of the Kouga Local Municipality and Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency. FOSTER has cleared these reserves of highly inflammable invasive alien plants (Rooikrans), established a system of peripheral and interior access routes for firefighting, established a network of footpaths and implemented a wide range of outreach programmes.