Oxfam International and the World Food Programme (WFP) are seeking $28 million from public and private investors to help poor rural people to protect their agricultural livelihoods from the impact of climate change.
The ground breaking five-year partnership called R4 partnership is based around the idea of managing four risks namely: community risk reduction, productive risk taking, risk transfer and risk reserves.
It also seeks to address the communities most vulnerable to climate variability in Ethiopia and three other countries, starting in 2011.
Mr Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International who launched the package at a press conference at the on-going 16 Conference of Parties ( COP 16) in Cancun said, the aim of R4 Partnership was to give farmers and rural communities in developing countries the resources needed to manage their own risk in the face of a changing climate.
He said through R4, farmers would be able to take out weather-indexed insurance and pay for their premiums through labour in WFP’s food-and-cash-for work programmes.
“Community members will work on irrigation and forestry projects that will help reduce the impact of climate change for their villages,” Mr Hobbs said.
He observed that insurance would make it easier for poor people to access credit on better terms, so that farmers could buy the tools and the drought-resistant seeds needed to grow bigger and better crops, while poor families could protect their savings in tough times.
He pledged the firm’s commitment to bring the non-profit and private sectors together to focus on helping communities most vulnerable to climate change.
“It’s clear that substantial new public funds are desperately needed to help poor communities build resilience to a changing climate, but working together to create sustainable, market-based solutions can also play a vital role in helping poor people reduce their risks of falling deeper into poverty because of weather-related disasters,” he said.
The R4 partnership builds on the success of the Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA) programme, supported by global reinsurer Swiss Re, Oxfam and a dozen other partners.
Piloted in Ethiopia in 2008, HARITA broke new grounds with its holistic approach and in supporting cash-poor farmers to pay for their insurance with their own labour. The number of poor households taking out insurance policies grew from 200 in the first year to 1,300 in 2010.
Ms Sheila Sisulu, WFP Deputy Executive Director of Hunger Solutions said R4 would integrate the HARITA model with the WFP global food-and-cash-for-work programmes in an “insurance-for-work innovation which makes risk reduction insurance products available to the poorest of poor”.
“Our food-for-work programmes around the world are already making vulnerable communities stronger and more food-secured. This innovative new partnership will enable poor people to act now to manage the new risks that come with changing climate,” she said.