The following excerpts of an opinion piece were written by ILRI’s Andrew Mude and originally published by The Standard newspaper (Kenya): Insurance only way to guard against weather-gone-awry phenomenon, 28 Apr 2017.
For the first time since anyone can remember, there is a very real possibility of four famines—in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen—breaking out at once, endangering more than 20 million lives.
More than one hundred vulnerable people of the South—most of them old and young—have died from lack of food and water-borne diseases in a 48-hour period in the rural Bay administrative region of southwestern Somalia. This hot and semi-arid southern region is devastated by drought as well as by the operations of a militant Islamist group known as Al-Shabaab.
A new grant funds a project, recently launched by UC Davis researchers in northern Kenya, that will use a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the impacts of combining programs that offer training, support and aid with affordable insurance to reduce chronic poverty.
The new project is led by Michael Carter, a professor of agricultural and resource economics and director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Assets and Market Access at UCD, and Andrew Mude from the International Livestock Research Institute, or ILRI, in Kenya. The researchers hope the project will help create a pathway out of poverty and reduce the need for aid, which Kenya’s government provides each year, even without drought.
With as little as one-quarter of expected rainfall received, widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the October–December rains, FAO said. Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, northeast and coastal Kenya, southeast Ethiopia as well as the Afar region still to recover from El Niño induced drought of 2015/16, and South Sudan, which faces a serious food crisis due to protracted insecurity.
Read and view the whole photoessay by Tess Riley in The Guardian: Using satellites to support Kenya’s drought-hit herders‚in pictures, 30 Nov 2016.
A Cornell development economist and his partners in the USAID-funded BASIS Assets and Market Access Innovation Lab have won an international award for developing a form of livestock insurance that has already proved itself in pilot testing. Now that it is scaling up, the insurance could help hundreds of thousands of African herders stave off poverty in times of drought.