What Oxfam is doing
Oxfam America and the United Nations World Food Programme have launched the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative to give farmers and rural families a new way to manage some of the risks they face from increasingly erratic weather. The initiative offers households access to drought insurance and credit; it facilitates their work on environmental projects that strengthen their communities; and it encourages families to save. Empowered with these risk-management tools, families can develop resilience to climate change and the challenges it presents to their food security and long-term well-being.
For the 1.3 billion people living on less than a dollar a day who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, climate-related shocks are a constant threat to their food security and well-being. As climate change brings an increase in the frequency and intensity of droughts and storms, the challenges faced by food-insecure communities will also increase. The question of how to help rural families build resilience against climate-related risk is critical for addressing global poverty.
In response to this challenge, Oxfam America and the United Nations World Food Programme have launched the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative. R4 refers to the four risk management strategies the initiative integrates. It builds on the initial success of an earlier program called HARITA, or the Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation). Developed by Oxfam America together with a host of partners, HARITA enabled poor farmers to strengthen their food and income security through a combination of improved resource management (risk reduction), insurance (risk transfer), microcredit (prudent risk taking) and savings (risk reserves)—the four Rs.
HARITA has broken new ground in the field of rural risk management by enabling Ethiopia’s poorest farmers to pay for crop insurance with their own labor. Since its launch in Ethiopia, HARITA has shown promising results for replication. It started with the enrollment of 200 households in a financial package offered in one village in 2009. By 2011the project had grown to enroll more than 13,000 households in 43 villages– directly affecting approximately 75,000 people.
R4 represents a new kind of partnership bringing public and the private sectors together in a strategic large-scale initiative to develop better tools to help the most vulnerable people build resilient livelihoods. R4 aims to leverage the respective strengths of its partners: Oxfam America’s capacity to build innovative partnerships and the World Food Programme’s global reach and extensive capacity to support government-led safety nets for poor people. This partnership will enable thousands more poor farmers and other food-insecure households to manage weather vulnerability through an affordable, comprehensive risk management program that builds long-term resilience.
By combining HARITA’s successful model of participatory design and capacity building with the World Food Programme’s global capacity, R4 will expand deeper into Ethiopia and move into Senegal and two other countries in the next five years. R4 also constitutes a first step toward developing a sustainable insurance market for poor people, an essential factor in ensuring farmers’ livelihoods and food security over the long term.