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Climate change is increasing the incidence, frequency and magnitude of natural disasters and exacerbating the vulnerability of many countries and communities. It is therefore essential to enhance resilience and the capacity to adapt to a changing climate, above all for the poor who are the most affected. Photo © C&S Northway

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Photo by: David Stanley (Flickr)

Contact: Richard Choularton, richard.choularton@wfp.org, +39 346 7600 703 (Italy) or +1 802 730 7133 (US)

The Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) was launched in 2011, by the UN World Food Programme and Oxfam America (lead organisations) with support from the insurance company Swiss Re. It aims at increasing food security and climate resilience for vulnerable rural households, by integrating disaster risk reduction, micro-insurance, livelihoods diversification, credit and savings into productive safety net programmes.

The Initiative works at local level directly with smallholder farmers, but also at national level with governments in order to improve social safety nets and0 make them climate risk proof. The outcomes are not quantified in CO2 emission reduction but in percentage savings gained by insured farmers compared to uninsured farmers.

In Ethiopia, where the initiative was launched in 2009, 25,000 farmers in 89 villages are concerned, to date. In 2012, R4 expanded to Senegal, where it currently reaches over 6,000 farmers. In 2015, implementation began in Malawi and Zambia, where the initiative could reach 40,000 farmers by 2022.

Financing partners include USAID, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the Norway Government (WFP partners) ; as well as Cargill Foundation, Swiss Re, and Rockefeller Foundation (Oxfam America partners).

Step by step approach

  • Farmers can pay for insurance with their labour through Insurance-for-Assets (IfA) schemes. When a drought hits, compensation for weather-related losses protects farmers from selling productive assets and stimulates faster recovery.
  • Insurance for Asssets schemes are built into existing government safety nets or World Food Program’s programs.
  • Assets built through risk reduction activities promote resilience by decreasing the impact of climate disasters.
  • Insurance facilitates access to credit at better rates. Households can invest in seeds, fertilizers and new technologies to increase their agricultural productivity
  • To ensure long-term sustainability, R4 contributes to the creation of rural financial markets, while farmers gradually increase their cash contribution towards premiums
  • Participants establish small-scale savings. Savings help build a stronger financial base for investing – but also act as a buffer against short-term needs and idiosyncratic shocks, such as illness and death.

Photo credit: David Stanley (Flickr)

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