Disaster Risk Reduction: An Interview with Erhan Arslan, TÜRKONFED

Connecting Business initiative Secretariat • 9 October 2020
Blog in group Turkey

In the context of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction on October 13, we invited CBi Member Networks to share why disaster risk reduction (DRR) matters now more than ever and why it is relevant for the private sector to engage. Below is the interview with Erhan Arslan, Project Coordinator at TÜRKONFED. 


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As a proud member of the CBi network and representing 40,000 businesses in Turkey, TÜRKONFED is currently working on ways in which we can reduce the risk of disasters and offer solutions to businesses and business associations to avert the negative impact of disasters according to different scenarios. 

Why does disaster risk reduction (DRR) matter? 

The combined impact of natural and manmade disasters on the Turkish business community is significant. The impact is particularly strong on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) which make up over 99% of all businesses in Turkey and are most often family businesses. 

SMEs have strong ties with their immediate community, so when they are affected, families and communities are also affected. According to a study conducted in Turkey, “There are 3.3 million SMEs in Turkey and the average lifespan of an SME in Turkey is 5 years. Therefore, in any given year, 600.000 SMEs die out due to various causes and new ones are founded. Regarding disasters, a region loses 80% of SMEs right after the disasters and 15% of the remaining go out of business in the following 24 months. Because we do not prepare consciously for disasters.” 

What’s in it for the private sector to engage? 

The case for engaging more players and a shared responsibility approach has never been more pronounced. SMEs can contribute to the aftermath of crises and lead efforts to build capacity before crises happen. 

Enhancing private sector resilience is key to strengthen coping capacities of communities and creating new markets. 

Global risks have untapped business potential which may generate new products and services as well as contribute to the competitiveness of businesses. Furthermore, the private sector can be much more influential in building societal resilience. With their on-the-ground networks, expertise and ability to swiftly adapt and innovate, companies can ensure that nations are able to recover from the shocks more rapidly. More importantly, they can also help avoid market disruptions due to conflict or disaster. 

How did TÜRKONFED do during the pandemic? 

During the pandemic, Turkonfed developed a resilience tactical toolkit to support businesses through a timeline guiding decisions in crisis, recovery, and normal phases. 

The toolkit is made of several applications: situation reports to provide status updates, a rapid assessment form, a risk perception survey, an impact framework, business actions during crises and business actions for recovery. 

How does TÜRKONFED work on DRR? 

We conduct research, identify best practices and provide technical support to affected businesses for crisis management and recovery. 

Past disaster experience indicates that decision making is the single most important factor for building resistance and resilience to crisis – taking the right decision at the right time ensures better crisis management and stronger recovery. 

The focus of our work is to share the right business actions for both crisis management and business recovery and how business associations can provide support. 

Phtot credit: UNDP Turkey