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First insurance for pastoralist herders in Kenya now available in Isiolo and Wajir

Goat herds returning home at sunset – Namunyak Conservancy, Northern Rangelands Trust

Goat herds return home at sunset in northern Kenya (photo credit: USAID/Donatella Lorch).

‘[Hussein] Ahmed, a pastoralist in Marsabit district in arid and semi-arid northern Kenya, lost all his animals in 2011 during one of the worst droughts in the region for over 60 years. . . .  “Before that [I lost my animals] to cattle rustlers trying to replace what they had lost to drought,” Ahmed tells IPS. . . .

‘But a clansman, who had signed up for a pilot livestock insurance product, gave Ahmed five goats and a cow and a chance to start over.

‘Life is different now. Ahmed has restored his herd and has security, even in the face of drought and continued cattle rustling.

‘A year ago he signed up for the same pilot livestock insurance product that his clansman has – the first ever cover for pastoralists in Kenya, which is being offered by [the] . . . International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

‘“I joined in 2012, and since then I have been paid for lost livestock on two occasions, including in March this year,” Ahmed says.

‘The insurance is subsidised by ILRI’s partners: the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, the European Union and the Australian Agency for International Development.

‘At first cover was only available in Marsabit. But in August it was implemented in the northern Kenyan counties of Isiolo and Wajir. And thanks to its success in this East African nation, it is now being piloted in Borana, an arid and semi-arid zone in southern Ethiopia.

‘According to ILRI, 4,000 . . . of the pastoralists in northern Kenya have been covered. . . .

‘The herders play a significant role in the region. . . . [T]he Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa, a regional trading bloc, estimates that over 90 percent of the meat consumed in East Africa comes from pastoral communities. . . .

“[The insurance] aims to compensate clients in the event of a loss but unlike traditional insurance, which makes payouts based on case-by-case assessments of individual clients’ loss realisations, this livestock insurance pays policy holders based on an external indicator, such as the availability of pasture,” Andrew Mude, who is in charge of the livestock insurance project at ILRI, tells IPS.

‘He explains that satellite data provides estimated readings of pasture availability and there is a policy payout when pasture scarcity is predicted to cause livestock deaths in an area. . . .

Insured households have experienced a 33 percent drop in the likelihood of reducing their nutritional intake, a 50 percent drop in distress sales of livestock [this happens when there is drought] and 33 percent in their food aid reliance,” Mude says. . . .’

Read the whole article at IPS: Insuring cows and goats improves Kenyan lives, 6 Nov 2013.

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