Risks emerging from Covid-19

Authored by: Gillian Le Cordeur, IRMSA CEO

coronavirus risks emerging in business food network

As we navigate our way through this crisis, that not only South Africa but the entire world is dealing with, The Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) Executive Committee has highlighted many risks and opportunities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is of critical importance to acknowledge that this pandemic is no longer a risk (it is a risk which has materialised) but has become a cause to many other risks emerging on our country’s risk radar.

Two of the most significant risks to have emerged from this pandemic were highlighted; the potential of social unrest and a likely increase in crime.

Both these risks if left untreated, have the potential to result in riots, looting, damage to property and harm to people.  Not forgetting (on the back of unemployment, the loss of income and poverty) hunger, starvation and desperation.

After intense workshops and discussions with our Executive Committee and stakeholders, IRMSA realised that we need to quickly recommend a risk response strategy to support the government and these individuals in ‘hot spot’ areas who have been deeply affected by this lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the last weekend, we watched with concern how citizens in the Alexandra Township responded to social distancing and the SANDF, and it was clear that whilst we are managing the health risk, we will need to address individuals’ access to food.

It is clear that this desperate need for food and basic necessities will be widespread in all townships and informal settlements.

IRMSA feels that this is an opportunity for professionals and business leaders to personally play a significant role in managing this risk which will have an impact not only on all organisations but on every single household and citizen in South Africa.

After extensive research and engagement with various parties, we made contact with an organisation called FoodForward SA and we will collaborate with this organisation to treat the core of these emerging risks – food distribution to those in need and for those who suddenly are unable to earn a living.

Not only is this the right thing to do but an essential risk treatment strategy to address the consequences of social unrest, starvation, desperation and potential for harm to, or the loss of life.

FoodForward SA redistributes edible donated food products and operates as part of the international Global Foodbank Network (GFN).

The organisation has an established national distribution footprint enabled by its verified beneficiary network of over 670 charities and over 255 000 people across the country. They already provide 20 million meals per year – but in the next few days to come and then 4 – 6 months, the need is much more. www.foodforwardsa.org

While organisations that previously invested in developing robust enterprise-wide risk management processes are still experiencing significant impacts from this unfolding crisis, hopefully, their leadership teams will align with IRMSA and take up this opportunity to be more proactive and participate in this drive with IRMSA and Food Forward SA.

It is also an opportunity for professionals and leaders to personally to play a significant role in managing this risk which will have an impact not only on all organisations but on every single household and citizen in South Africa.

In order to be part of the solution to this immediate risk and support those in need, please click on the link to make a donation. (Click here to make a donation)

President Ramaphosa wisely stated that ‘united we are stronger’, and therefore we are proud to announce that in the spirit of collaboration the Institute of Directors South Africa, the Compliance Institute of Southern Africa, the Ethics Institute, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners SA, Financial Planning Institute of South Africa and the Actuarial Association of South Africa will be joining this initiative in order for us to have a larger impact and help more people in need.  We are most grateful to these professional bodies for their support.

IRMSA continues to play a leading role in South Africa and with our theme for 2020, #Risk Activism: Leading the journey to a risk intelligent future, we feel we will most certainly be doing so again with this initiative.

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