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Survey sheds light on how Caribbean, African firms are coping with natural hazards

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a fishing ship is loaded with clean containers for its next trip
Photo: © John Hogg/World Bank

When private companies are affected by disasters, the impacts are felt by the whole society. It affects access to goods and services for people and other businesses, as well as jobs and recovery for afflicted communities. Businesses can be affected directly, by having their assets damaged, and indirectly when supply chains and infrastructure access are disrupted. However, the lack of data on how businesses experience and cope with shocks has made it difficult for governments to assess economic losses after a disaster, and to identify and prioritize actions. 

To address this gap, The Resilience Firm Survey (RFS) was developed. It is a survey instrument that explores the impacts of natural hazards on firms and the infrastructure services they rely on. So far, the RFS was applied in 13 countries in the Caribbean, focusing on the tourism sector, and in Tanzania, covering all sectors. Here we summarize four main findings:  

Figure 1. Hours of power outage per month faced by firms in Tanzania, by dry and rainy season (Dashed lines indicate mean number of hours).

Hours of power outage faced by firms in Tanzania each month
Source: Rentschler, et al., 2021.

Figure 2. Share of total asset losses covered by insurance payout on average for affected firms in the Caribbean that received an insurance payout, by disaster (faded dots represent each observation, solid dot represents the mean).

Figure 2. Share of total asset losses covered by insurance payout
Source: Erman, et al., 2021.

The RFS datasets and other materials from Tanzania and the Caribbean were recently published on the World Bank Microdata Library, and are available for download by requesting access directly on the site. If you are looking to understand how firms are affected by and cope with disaster impacts, the RFS can help you get started. The survey tool can be designed to capture data from different economic sectors or types of disaster to meet local needs.

More results from the Caribbean survey can be found in the background paper Resilience of the Caribbean Tourism Industry - New Evidence from a Firm Survey which supported the flagship report 360° Resilience: A Guide to Prepare the Caribbean for a New Generation of Shocks. Results from the Tanzania survey were published in the working paper Floods and Their Impacts on Firms: Evidence from Tanzania.

Datasets in Microdata Library:

Resilience Firm Survey 2018, Tanzania: Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Dodoma

Resilience Firm Survey 2020, The Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos


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