Livestock insurance offers hope to drought-hit SomalisWed, 21 Feb 2024 06:15:57 GMT

A record drought wiped out nearly half of Iido Abdikarin Abdille’s herd in northern Somalia, but a livestock insurance programme is helping to ease the financial burden on pastoralists like her.Since her father’s death in 2010, the 34-year-old has taken on the responsibility of looking after her unwell mother as well as her own two children in Somalia’s Puntland state.The Horn of Africa nation is only just beginning to emerge from the worst drought in four decades that left millions of people hungry across East Africa.”We rely on livestock and if the animal becomes weak as happens during the droughts… you cannot even milk the animal because it has nothing to feed on,” Abdille told AFP, recalling how she lost dozens of goats since 2020.The drought pushed thousands of Somalis to the brink of famine and left pastoralists especially vulnerable to economic ruin.It swallowed up their key livestock assets, forcing families to give up their way of life and migrate to urban centres.But a recently launched World Bank-backed project, the Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI), aims to protect the community against drought shocks by offering payouts when herders lose animals to climate disasters.Participants receive compensation in exchange for a contribution that is proportionate to the size of their herd.Abdille is among 40,000 Somalis who have registered for the scheme since August 2022, and has already received a $50 payout.”This money will be useful for sustaining our lives and that of the animals because we will manage to buy foliage and water during droughts to save our animals,” she said.”This is the first time a programme like this which benefits Somali pastoralists has been implemented in the country,” said Muusa Ali Mahamad, communications director at Salaam Somali Bank, one of the project’s backers.- ‘No longer sustainable’ -Abdifatah Jama Hassan, another pastoralist based in Puntland, said many of his compatriots were being compelled to migrate to cities in search of work because of failed rainy seasons.”There are recurring droughts in our country and the climate is unpredictable, so the traditional way of pastoralist life is no longer sustainable,” he told AFP.The 43-year-old was initially reluctant to sign up to the scheme because he struggled to understand it.”This is a completely new thing to Somali pastoralists, but we can already feel the benefits we get in return outweigh the small amount of money we pay for the policy,” he said.The financial coverage has boosted his confidence in the face of the constant threat posed by drought, he added.In the southwestern district of Dolow, which was devastated by floods last November after years of drought, pastoralists told AFP they hoped that access to insurance would secure their livelihoods and preserve their centuries-old way of life.”I believe this initiative will encourage people not to quit keeping animals (because) even in the worst drought there will still be a way to save the animals,” said Abdirizak Hussein Mohamed, 39.”This is indeed a blessing,” he added.