Preparing for the unexpected: Saint Lucia’s business continuity planning for disasters

This page in:
Property damage from natural disasters in the Caribbean Property damage from natural disasters in the Caribbean

Saint Lucia, like many Caribbean countries, is prone to climate-induced weather events, including hurricanes, flooding, droughts, and wildfires. Loss of natural vegetation has exacerbated the country’s vulnerability to landslides, and rising sea levels are amplifying the destruction caused by tropical cyclone-related disasters. In 2010, Hurricane Tomas caused $336 million in loss and damages. Estimated disaster damage (as a percentage of GDP) is expected to reach 12 percent by 2030 as a result of more severe and more frequent disasters. Saint Lucia is also prone to seismic activity; according to the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies, “the 50-year return period for greater than 7 magnitude earthquakes in or around Saint Lucia is almost due.”

Without business impact analyses (BIAs) and business continuity plans (BCPs), disaster consequences will be amplified. To improve its resilience to disasters, Saint Lucia’s Department of Finance has been focusing on strengthening its BIAs and BCPs.  BIAs help determine the criticality of business activities and – in parallel – BCPs outline the steps and procedures that units within the Department of Finance need to follow when faced with emergency or disaster-related disruptions.


Video: Business Continuity Planning - Adam McAllister, World Bank



In the context of public financial management (PFM), which is a key job of any finance ministry, BIAs and BCPs help government units identify which PFM services need to be prioritized in the most critical times. Against this background, the Department of Finance of Saint Lucia, in conjunction with the World Bank, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and in partnership with the Canada-Caribbean Resilience Facility (CRF), has been working on improving its resilience to disasters. Accordingly, a Post-Disaster Public Financial Management Review (PD-PFM) was undertaken in 2019 and identified priority areas and weaknesses that need to be addressed to strengthen the country’s response to disasters. Based on findings of the PD-PFM Review, a project was initiated in October 2020 to support the Government of Saint Lucia’s disaster resilience and recovery efforts.  Two training workshops were held for government officials in May 2021 to build capacity and awareness around the concepts and tools associated with BIAs and BCPs.

In October 2021, first drafts of BCPs were submitted by the government and reviewed by the World Bank team. Subsequently, joint discussions were held to identify key strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations. A technical three-day workshop was later held virtually from April 12 to 14, 2022. It introduced participants to a BIA template, highlighted BCP efforts that are ongoing in the private sector, and emphasized the importance of aligning BCPs across departments and nationally. It also summarized findings and observations based on initial business continuity planning drafts to help teams strengthen their plans in their second iterations.

Mr. Francis Fontenelle, the Permanent Secretary in the Department of Finance in Saint Lucia praised the World Bank’s efforts to strengthen business continuity plans  and empower various units within the government to minimize business disruptions. A recent in-person workshop held on November 1 and 2, 2022 focused on putting current BIAs and BCPs to the test under a realistic business disruption scenario. The workshop also noted the importance of embedding business continuity into an annual program such that staff are trained and plans are tested regularly. Doing so will allow the Department of Finance to manage emergency and disaster-related disruptions more effectively.

Recognizing the importance of disaster resilience and response, the World Bank and GFDRR team in partnership with CRF will continue to support the Government of Saint Lucia with the finalization of business continuity plans and business impact analyses.


Abdulaziz Almuzaini

Governance Global Practice Consultant, World Bank

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000