A team from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) is proposing wide adoption of climate-based insurance for animals to reduce risks from continual drought.
And for a region now staring at a shortage of rainfall for the past five years, the Igad Centre for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) says a specialised insurance index for smallholder herders can protect them from climate-related risks, allowing them to concentrate on production rather than relocation of their animals.
The specialised programme termed Index-based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) is not new as it has been trialled on a select groups of smallholder farmers. ICPALD says insurance is needed to make the keepers resilient to the effects of climate change while promoting growth and sustainable development.
The ICPALD report Strategy for Sustainable and Resilient Livestock Development in view of Climate Change in the Igad Region (2022-2037) lists five areas insurance can help: Mechanisms for climate risk management; natural resource base and ecosystem services for livestock production; income diversification along livestock value chains; research, innovation, and knowledge management policy alignment, coherence, and coordination for transboundary issues.
The strategy seeks to adopt covers for livestock keepers by enabling them secure feeds and water during droughts, thereby reducing the impact on mortality and fertility. Overall, IBLI may have a limited effect on milk production, but ensures that the meat production is sustained in drier seasons. IBLI also has little effect on profit because the financial benefits of reduced drought losses are largely offset by the costs of insurance premiums.
However, the protection by IBLI may encourage farmers to shift, over time, from actions to protect animals from dying, such as constant relocation to enhancing their weight through a regular feeding in one location. This can enhance productivity enhancement, and incomes.
The Horn of Africa’s pastoralists contribute 57 percent of the region’s Agricultural GDP, in spite of the effects of climate change. The Igad comprises Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, as well as on-off Eritrea. Yet, they all have neglected the pastoralist economy despite being a major exporter of livestock products.