We’d like to dedicate this one to you

Success stories, In the field, Aid & development, Food & climate change article written on the 27 Sep 2017

Last week Oxfam Australia was presented with ‘Best Social Innovation’ at the 2017 Australian Financial Review’s Most Innovative Companies awards for our Weather Index Insurance scheme in Sri Lanka. We’d like to dedicate it to YOU for making it possible.

In Eastern Sri Lanka, rice crops are the only source of income for farmers like Sivanathan.

This climate-sensitive crop relies on the availability of water and sunshine, but natural disasters such as floods and droughts regularly damage or destroy the rice harvest. This year 1.2 million Sri Lankans are suffering extreme drought, and farmer communities like Sivanathan’s are the worst affected.

While the government has introduced crop insurance for rice farmers, just 2% of farmers have obtained insurance due to the lengthy and complicated procedures required to register for and benefit from the insurance.

“Although we had insured our crops before, we never received a payout as we couldn’t deal with complicated forms. But we need the money, and we need a good harvest.” – Sivanathan Lilemalar, farmer

To address this challenge, we’ve partnered with Sanasa, a private sector insurance provider, to design an innovative Weather Index Insurance scheme which allows farmers to insure their crops against the amount of rainfall.

Here’s how it works.

Rainfall levels are set for both droughts and floods, with payouts starting at the minimum threshold and increasing according to the severity. Oxfam has set up a weather station which monitors rainfall and automatically communicates in real time via SMS with the farmers, government, and the insurance provider – who triggers payments automatically.

For farmers like Sivanathan, it’s a transparent, accessible and user-friendly scheme that allows them to access insurance and most importantly re-engage in their livelihoods after a disaster.

Thanks to you, in 2016 Oxfam supported 500 farmers to obtain insurance for the Yala rice season which falls between May and August. Due to dry weather and lack of rain in May 2016 each farmer received compensation of LKR. 4,400 (AUD $36), making it easier to bounce back.

This year, for the first time ever, we were compensated for losing our crops. The money we got helped us to buy seeds for the next cultivation”. – Sivanathan Lilemalar, farmer.

Oxfam and partners are working together to further develop the Weather Index Insurance for more complicated disaster scenarios in order to offer this affordable and practical product to even more farmers.

Thanks to you for making it possible. Together, we’re finding new, innovative ways to tackle poverty.

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