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Workshop on index-based insurance in Nairobi

by Felix

For the past two weeks, Birgit, Gunnar, and Felix went on a very interesting trip to Nairobi, Kenya. From 9-11 June 2015, we participated in the workshop “Putting Innovations to Use in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands”, held at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya. The institute is particularly apt for having such a workshop, given that with the Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) it has developed one of the most renowned insurance pilots so far. Index-based insurance products provide a tool for managing risks that arise from unfavourable weather events (e.g. droughts). They rely on an index of environmental data (e.g. rainfall or vegetation) which leads to a pay-out if a certain threshold is not reached.

The first day was organized as a Policy Workshop entitled “Developing Policy Innovations for the Pastoralist Rangelands through Cross-Sector Partnerships” brought together a lot of different stakeholders, and thus, perspectives. Besides scientists from various universities and backgrounds, it also included representatives of the Kenyan government, international organizations such as the World Bank or the World Food Programme as well as private insurance companies like Takaful of Africa. Bringing together these diverse stakeholders opened up a wide array of perspectives on the potentials and current challenges of insurance.

During the Academic Workshop over the next two days, scientists from almost all continents (Antarctica was regrettably missing) presented their work surrounding IBLI: Drawing on the extensive household surveys, economists reported on the welfare effects of IBLI. Other interesting topics were developing mobile training apps for insurance agents or the use of remote sensing techniques and their validation through crowdsourcing.

The relevance of our social-ecological modelling approach in the context of pastoralism and IBLI was most affectionately expressed by another ILRI member. Upon hearing about our work, he stated that his initial reaction would have been to hug and kiss all of us. Even though he managed to maintain his composure, it is really nice to know that our work is appreciated.

The second week of our stay was devoted to meeting people working on the ground. Among others, we exchanged ideas with Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority, Vétérinaires sans frontières, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In these talks, we learnt a lot about their work, the policy instruments in place and current issues they face. We hope to help solve some of them with our work.

Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to do some field work ourselves and visit the pastoral areas up north. What we definitely could get an impression of, though, was Nairobi traffic, giraffes, rhinos, vast amounts of meat, and the unpleasant weather conditions in Abu Dhabi.

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