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Hollard and Lumkani fight fires in informal settlements – and you can, too


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Fire is one of nature’s most destructive forces, and in the blink of an eye can consume lives and homes. For South Africans living in informal settlements, it’s an ever-present threat.


                        Lumkani worker showing the Lumkani heat detector to an informal settlement resident.


But we can all do something positive about the situation, and create better futures for our most vulnerable compatriots. Easily, and in a cost-effective way.

Here’s an example of how it works. In December, around 1 000 homes in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Noordhoek, Cape Town, were razed in a fire. It was devastating for around 6 000 people – but some, at least, had an insurance safety net.

Two hundred and twenty of the affected households are customers of Lumkani, a social enterprise that addresses the ongoing challenge of fires in informal settlements. Lumkani’s smart, connected heat sensors alert residents to fire and allow them to take action in time – either to save vital possessions or simply to get to safety.

Hollard Insure underwrites the low-cost insurance product that is paired with the fire detection system, allowing those who do lose their homes to quickly get back on their feet.

So innovative and effective is Lumkani that late last year it won the Shelter and Related Assistance category of the prestigious EIC Horizon Prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid, awarded by the European Innovation Council, which falls under the European Union.

“The Lumkani system, coupled with our insurance product, substantially and directly improves vulnerable communities’ resilience, and it offers them dignity in the face of disaster,” says Deanne van Doesburgh, Hollard Insure’s Head of Personal Lines Product Development.

“Our involvement with Lumkani satisfies our Hollard business purpose, called Better Futures. It requires every Hollardite to create and secure better futures for more people in everything we do, and how we do it. And ‘more people’ include South Africa’s poorer communities, who have until recently not enjoyed the benefits of solid, affordable insurance.”

Hollard Insure’s claim payouts to Masiphumelele residents affected by last month’s fire total about R6-million. This money has been critical to their efforts to get back on their feet – and while it is, of course, a financial loss to Hollard, we’re very proud of its social dividend: helping vulnerable people when they need it most.

So how can you and your customers help to make a difference?

“The more detectors we can install and link to each other, the better the early-warning component of Lumkani works. People can be alerted sooner, and quick action can be taken to prevent the spread of a fire. This results in fewer lives lost, and less destruction of precious property.

“And the more people we bring on board, the more cost-effective and sustainable the insurance component of our offering is. I would like to appeal to everyone who knows someone living in an informal settlement – be it an employee, a relative or a friend – and can assist them, to consider doing so,” says David Gluckman, founder and CEO of Lumkani.

“Literally, for the price of a couple of coffees a month, you can provide a whole family with the kind of security and support that those of us living in brick-and-mortar homes so easily take for granted. That’s how we all can do our bit to create better futures.”


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