Parliamentarians learn how microinsurance can help the poor to weather life’s storms

As RESULTS activists heard back in October, rising temperatures and shifting rain patterns due to climate change are impacting farming systems across the world. The impact is especially felt by smallhold farmers who work small plots of land, often providing the only food and income their family has access to. When crops fail due to adverse weather conditions, most small farmers are forced to go hungry and to sell their assets simply to survive, deepening their poverty.

Fluctuations in the environment, combined with the rise of large scale environmental disasters, has led to the introduction of microinsurance schemes. These are aimed at providing a safety net to individuals who would ordinarily be forced to hardships, such as drought, alone.

Two weeks in advance of the United Nations Climate Change conference in Cancun, three All-Party Parliamentary Groups came together in Parliament yesterday to learn how microinsurance programmes work and the potential for making such adaptation techniques more widely available to the world’s poor.

Kerry McCarthy MP chaired this event, which was jointly held by the APPG’s on ‘Microfinance’, ‘Climate Change’ and ‘Agriculture & Food for Development’. Richard Leftley, CEO and President of MicroEnsure, and Alan Doran, Business finance Adviser for Oxfam, were invited to speak about the microinsurance products that their organisations have introduced and how these schemes have progressed and adapted to the needs of their clients.

The presentations offered a compelling look at the possibilities for this area of microfinance. The speakers also acknowledged challenges to the model, such as the difficulties of engaging with the population and the difficulty of assessing damages and risks. However they also spoke about the role that new technologies can play in addressing these issues and helping microinsurance schemes to reach the poor people who could benefit from them.

The event was well attended by both academics and practitioners who contributed significantly to the content of the event with questions on issues such as; insurance premium price fluctuations; combined microinsurance/microcredit products; and the implications of remote sensing innovations for the collection of agronomic data. It was clear from this event that this is a growing area of microfinance and one that could have potential for reducing the potential impact, of climate fluctuations, on the world’s poor.

Visit the APPG on Microfinance’s website see the presentations given by the two speakers.

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