Using radio to builds herders’ trust in livestock insurance in Isiolo County

The Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP) insures the livestock of pastoralists in the arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya. Implemented with technical assistance from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), KLIP limits livestock losses through early compensation allowing pastoralists to protect their assets. Payouts are pegged to measurements of forage conditions made via satellite data on vegetation cover to derive an index of seasonal forage availability/scarcity. Once payouts are triggered, registered pastoralists in the affected areas are eligible for compensation.

Read this post by the Thompson Reuters Foundation on how radio is being used to build pastoralists’ trust in livestock insurance in Kenya’s Isiolo County.


Enhancing access to information for women in pastoral areas

A recent CTA workshop on ‘making next-generation ACP agriculture work for women’ identified seven critical success factors to enable women to truly benefit from agriculture: access by women to investment and finance, access to markets, skills support, networking and capacity development, access to information, knowledge and technology, access to land, overcoming socio-cultural factors, and appropriate recognition of women (in society, in policies, through targeted delivery of services).

A story from the workshop by Rupsha Banerjee argues that the current revolution in information access offers opportunities to transform and extend opportunities for women pastoralists in East Africa – enhancing their livelihoods and resilience. She calls for a ‘blended’ approach combining use of mobile phones, radio, and face-to-face communication, informed by a thorough understanding of the capacities of women and the institutions who work with them, building on local and community-based institutions, providing incentives for good quality data, and engaging local governments.

Read the full story

Watch an interview with Rupsha:

The Kenya Government declares a pay out of Ksh87 million to cushion 6,000 pastoralists from the effects of drought

The Government of Kenya, through the State Department of Livestock has announced a payout of Ksh87 million for pastoralists insured under the Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP).

Speaking at a press conference on 7 March 2019 where he declared payouts for the short-rains season (October–December 2018), the cabinet secretary for Agriculture Livestock Fisheries and Irrigation, Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri reiterated the Government of Kenya’s commitment towards provision of agricultural insurance targeting crop and livestock farmers across the country.

‘I wish to announce that a total of Ksh87 million will be paid out to 6,000 pastoralists from 22 insurance units in eight counties of Marsabit, Turkana, Wajir, Isiolo, Mandera, Tana River, Garissa and Samburu. These are the areas, which were severely affected by drought during the short-rains season of October–December 2018, said Hon. Kiunjuri. ‘The insurance payout is intended to provide resources for the purchase of animal feeds, provide water, procure animal health care services or even move the animals to areas with better forage to cushion them against severe starvation and possible deaths.’

Beneficiary of Takaful insurance payout in Wajir, northern Kenya

Shamsa Kosar, a beneficiary of  a previous payout by Takaful insurance in Wajir, northern Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

KLIP is a satellite-based index insurance product, whose aim is to cushion smallholder pastoralists against drought-related loss of their key productive asset, livestock. Payments are based on measurements of forage conditions made via satellite for each area. Low cost, accessible and reliable satellite-based indicators of pasture availability act as triggers for indemnities to pastoralists incase a strong forage deficit is indicated over a defined period and geographical location. The program is therefore an asset protection contract whose payouts are designed to trigger in-between the end of a poor rainy season and at the beginning of a dry season, thus enabling pastoralists to use the cash received to purchase fodder, water, veterinary drugs and allied services that would help keep their livestock alive during the drought period.

There are currently 18,000 pastoralists’ households insured through KLIP. These households are distributed in the eight counties of implementation;  Isiolo, Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Turkana, Samburu and Mandera. KLIP was launched in 2014 as a pilot program in Wajir and Turkana counties where 5,000 households were covered, with over 25,000 Tropical Livestock Units (TLU) covered across the two counties (1 TLU is equivalent to 1 cow). Over the last four years KLIP has expanded to cover six additional counties, bringing the total number of households under cover to 18,000 and the TLUs covered to over 70,000. Private insurance companies have been the underwriters of the KLIP product since inception, and for this payout Takaful Insurance of Africa is the lead underwriter.

Watering camels near Wajir, northern Kenya

Camels at a water point near Wajir (photo credit: ILRI/Riccardo Gangale).

Livestock is a major contributor to Kenya’s economy, providing about 42% of the agricultural GDP and 12% of the national GDP. It is for this reason that mainstreaming livestock production is provided for under Sessional Paper No. 2 of 2008 on the National Livestock Policy as well as the Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy, 2010-2022 and the overarching Vision 2030. In his speech, the cabinet secretary highlighted that, ‘these guiding policy frameworks provide the necessary strategic thrust to ensure that the livestock subsector makes its rightful contribution to the economic development of Kenya. Further, the current Medium-Term Plan (2018-2022) and the government policy on agricultural risk management recognizes the important role insurance instruments will play in cushioning pastoralists from the effects of drought’.

He also stated that considering the sustainability of the program, plans are underway by the government to start a partial voluntary cover, where the government will provide one extra cover for every cover bought from the voluntary market. County governments were requested to set aside funds to complement the efforts of the national government of cushioning vulnerable members of the society from extreme shocks resulting from drought. The cabinet secretary also encouraged insurance companies to carry out voluntary insurance sales in order to enhance sustainability of the insurance product.

While there have been targeted efforts to bring KLIP to sustainable scale in Kenya through collaboration with public and private sector actors and development partners, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the World Bank who have been spearheading research and technical support in its implementation are now faced with growing demand for replication and scale up of similar approaches from countries within the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia for instance is at the formative stages of setting up a taskforce to look into the feasibility of a national livestock insurance scheme – similar to KLIP, to which ILRI is a member.

A feasibility study led by the World Bank and ILRI is currently underway in Somalia with the aim of advising the Federal Government of Somalia on the possible approaches and benefits of setting up an index-based livestock insurance scheme. In –­Niger, West Africa, a feasibility study was also conducted by ILRI and partners (Cornell University and CARE international) in 2018, to determine the operational, financial and social-economic viability of launching a product like KLIP in the region.

Despite this demand, the general experience gained over the years of implementing index-based livestock insurance (IBLI) indicates that emphasis should always be directed towards getting the science right with regards to contract design, identifying, incentivizing and sustaining the right public and private sector partners, creating awareness as well as building local capacity in order to implement IBLI successfully.

Written by Duncan Khalai with contributions from Sarah Kasyoka.

Read a related business daily article.


Why women are among the best clients for livestock insurance in East Africa

A recent CTA workshop on ‘making next-generation ACP agriculture work for women’ identified seven critical success factors to enable women to truly benefit from agriculture: access by women to investment and finance, access to markets, skills support, networking and capacity development, access to information, knowledge and technology, access to land, overcoming socio-cultural factors, and appropriate recognition of women (in society, in policies, through targeted delivery of services).

A story from the workshop by Rupsha Banerjee, Eric Mwaura and Sabdiyo Dido asks why women pastoralists in East Africa – who are not usually significant livestock owners – are major customers for IBLI’s livestock insurance product. Reasons suggested include that women’s access to micro-loans enables them to access a financial service such as IBLI,  women do own small ruminants so have an interest in insurance, and increasing sedentarisation of the pastoral community which means that women are becoming household decision-makers.

As initiatives such as IBLI are being scaled out across East Africa, it is essential to develop a deeper understanding of the factors that motivate livestock owners – both women and men – to invest in such insurance.

Read the full story

Watch an interview with Rupsha:

On the road to salvaging livestock market data: Digitizing livestock market data from Kenya’s arid and semi-arid regions

By Kevin Kidimu,
Research Associate, International Livestock Research Institute

Since independence, Kenya has grappled with collection of livestock market data. The livestock production department was established in 1987 and since then, the ministries of agriculture and livestock have been split and merged several times, negatively impacting the livestock subsector. The creation and dissolution of ministries has come with a change in priorities, which has resulted in glaring gaps in collection of livestock market information. Access to information on livestock prices, volumes traded at markets, breeds, sex and age group of animals, has been hampered.

Previous efforts to close these information gaps have not borne fruit due to intermittent funding from the National Treasury. Recurrent droughts in the recent past have compelled government and development partners to embark on efforts to boost resilience of pastoral communities to secure their livelihoods. To achieve this goal, it is important to have information that will help producers make better choices in livestock trade. This need has led the State Department of Livestock, through the World Bank’s Regional Pastoral Livelihoods Resilience Project (RPLRP), to revive data collection across livestock markets in pastoral and agropastoral counties of Kenya. Despite this effort, there have been challenges in collecting raw data. The State Department of Livestock (SDL) has now partnered with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) to salvage livestock market data that has been collected over the years but is not available in the SDL database.

Continue reading this article in the Innovate Digest.

Let the games begin: Using simulations to collect data and disseminate information on livestock insurance

By Oscar Naibei,
Research Associate, International Livestock Research Institute

My sojourn in August 2018 was to Samburu County in northern Kenya. The county is in the country’s arid and semi-arid region and is mostly inhabited by pastoralist communities. My colleagues and I were there with the intention to play games with the locals. Yes, we were there for a game experiment on gender and insurance.


Community members playing the SIMPASTORALIST game in Samburu County.

Community members playing the SIMPASTORALIST game in Samburu County (photo credit: ILRI/Oscar Naibei).

At that time, the 2018 FIFA World Cup was at its fever pitch. Grown men screaming and cheering loudly for the love of the game was a common phenomenon. This time round, the beautiful game had a new twist to it — a video assistant referee otherwise known as VAR. The technology had finally found its way to the beautiful game. I digress, back to my Samburu trip. I am in Samburu and I can’t help but think of how simple and beautiful life here is. Folks here have no worries about fuel prices, traffic jam, work deadlines or calories’ intake for that matter.

A game known as ‘SIMPASTORALIST’, an abbreviation for the phrase ‘simulating pastoralist’ is being used to collect data on the decision-making process within pastoralist households. This information will inform future designs of interventions such as the index-based livestock insurance.

Though I know that I am here to play games with the local communities, I begin to realize that I have fallen in love with the place and start thinking of setting up a home in the area. Realizing that my wife would not hear any of it or even remotely consider the idea, I jolt back to reality and focus on my mission is restored.

Continue reading the article in the Innovate Digest.

A Business Evaluation of the Sales and Distribution Model for Index-Based Livestock Insurance

“Developing the insurance product was the easy part. The tweaking, monitoring, and adapting – that has been much more complicated.” This, in essence, was what Cornell development economist Christopher Barrett informed us as we began discussing our upcoming Kenya research trip with him.

He was right. Since the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) formulated Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) ten years ago, the product has been lauded as a strategy to prevent drought-induced livestock losses among Kenyan and Ethiopian pastoralists. By combining satellite observations of forage conditions with longitudinal livestock mortality rates, it calculates clients’ seasonal payouts.

While by and large successful – and already showing evidence of positive impacts on pastoralists’ wellbeings – the rollout of IBLI has faced numerous challenges, as Takaful Insurance of Africa, IBLI’s current private sector partner, can attest.

Continue reading…

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