Today at the World Bank Forum for Agricultural Risk Management conference in Zurich, leading global reinsurer, Swiss Re, announced that it is joining Oxfam America and the World Food Programme (WFP) as a Founding Sponsor of the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4). R4 is a ground-breaking new initiative to help poor rural communities protect their crops and livelihoods from the impact of climate change. Under the agreement, Swiss Re is committing USD 1.25 million to the project over five years in Ethiopia and three other countries.
The R4 initiative builds on the success of the Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA) project in Ethiopia, where Swiss Re has been working with Oxfam America and others since 2008 to provide weather insurance to poor farmers. Within two years, the project increased the number of households taking out insurance policies from 200 to over 1,300 with anticipated 13,000 to enroll this year.
“The HARITA project has demonstrated how innovative public private partnerships between the non-profit, private and government sectors can help provide holistic risk management and protection to the most vulnerable families,” says Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America. “The R4 initiative will scale up this successful model and replicate it in other countries.”
R4 is based around the idea of managing four risks - community risk reduction, productive risk taking, risk transfer and risk reserves. Combining the HARITA model with WFP’s global food-and-cash-for-work programs, the initiative will make risk reduction insurance products available to the poorest members of a community. Under the terms of R4, farmers have the option to take out weather-indexed insurance and pay for their premiums with their labor instead of cash. Participants will work on irrigation and forestry projects intended to reduce the impact of climate change for their villages.