Drought / Drylands / East Africa / Ethiopia / Film and video / ILRI / Insurance / Kenya / Pastoralism / Vulnerability

CNN publishes major story and video about livestock insurance project helping herders in northern Kenya

Training livestock herders in Marsabit in new insurance scheme available

ILRI is working with insurance companies to train livestock herders in Kenya’s northern drylands in the benefits and costs of a new index-based livestock insurance first made available in Marsabit District in 2010 (photo credit: ILRI/Andrew Mude).

CNN has published a major story on a major breakthrough—a project that is insuring never-before-insured livestock herders in Kenya’s remote northern drylands.

‘Wacho Yayo and his wife Dawe are used to seeing the plants shrivel around them, the earth crack and their cattle die. Every time a drought has hit this elderly couple’s village in northern Kenya they have had to rebuild their lives all over again.

‘”The last drought was bad,” 69-year-old Wacho says. “During the drought time there wasn’t even any water to drink. There was no food. The animals had nothing to eat. And there was only dust blowing. I felt very bad and I was very bitter. I wanted to run away but there was nowhere to run.” . . .

‘By then Wacho and Dawe had lost 10 of their 15 cows, but they danced too. They knew they would struggle to support their nine children without these animals but this drought was different—for the first time in their lives Wacho had taken insurance out on some of their cattle.

‘Shortly before the first leaf wilted from the heat, an insurance promoter had come to their small village offering livestock insurance. It was a new initiative that has been trialed in this part of Kenya. Wacho was skeptical—he’d never heard of insurance and he wasn’t sure that he would ever see his money again. After talking it through with Dawe he eventually decided to sign up and pay a premium for a few of his cows—he couldn’t afford to cover them all.

‘”This insurance is good,” he says, sitting on a stool outside his home, his surviving cattle listlessly tied up behind him.

‘Once the rains came 650 herders eventually received compensation for the loss of thousands of animals. Wacho and Dawe did not get enough to buy new cows but they did manage to buy some goats.

This initiative is run by the Nairobi-based organization, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). It is one of a growing number of micro-insurance schemes being rolled out in Africa. Backed by British and U.S. government development departments and the World Bank, there are plans to expand this project across northern Kenya and into southern Ethiopia. . .

‘When drought hits such remote and vast areas it is impossible to count all the dead animals, so this initiative uses satellite images to quantify the loss of foliage in each area. This then determines who should be compensated and by how much.

‘One of the biggest challenges of introducing insurance in remote rural villages is the lack of knowledge and understanding. This is where insurance promoters like Edin Ibrahim come in. As a farmer himself Ibrahim knows all about being ravaged by drought.

‘”Over 80%of our population are illiterates. Understanding this insurance issue was just too hard,” he explains. “But with the time and with the information in the language they understand and the values and importance, now they are getting it and catching up.”

‘”Micro-insurance for agriculture is something that farmers in the rest of the world have had access to for sometime,” says Challiss McDonough from the World Food Programme.

‘”African farmers, the poorest and smallest scale farmers are only just beginning to have access to [insurance] and their ability to do that can really help the agriculture sector to grow and become more productive.” . . .’

Read the whole story on CNN: Insurance helps Kenya’s herders protect against drought, 18 Jun 2012.

Watch the CNN 6-minute video on this project: Protecting farmers from drought.

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