Nearly 65 000 farming households in Malawi have received cash compensation from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) after drought and pests had devastated crops during the 2020-2021 farming season.
With a total pay-out of US$2.4 million from the WFP agricultural insurance programme, this is one of the greatest crop index insurance pay-outs ever on the African continent.
“Most farmers in Malawi rely on rain-fed agriculture but with the surging effects of climate change, livelihoods are cyclically disrupted and this fuels hunger,” said Lobin C. Lowe, Malawian minister of agriculture, in a statement.
“Scaling up crop insurance can enhance people’s capacity to anticipate and withstand shocks and mitigate their effects in the long run.”
Insurance is vital
The government and a coalition of partners in Malawi are working to provide farming communities with the tools they need to manage climate risks and to mitigate the effects of climate-related disasters. Farmers insured crops like maize, sorghum, rice, groundnuts, pigeon peas and cotton to safeguard their profits from harvest losses in the 2020-2021 farming season.
Malawian farmers may buy these policies by paying a percentage of their premium in cash or by helping to create communal assets like wells, vegetable gardens and tree nurseries, which would help them resist future weather shocks.
“With the changing climate, farming can be an uncertain business in Malawi, especially for smallholder farmers. The recent drought saw farmers who usually harvest up to 15 bags of 50kg of maize, now harvest only one bag,” says Paul Turnbull, WFP Malawi country director and representative.
“The pay-outs are a springboard for farmers to continue their efforts in adapting to increased weather-related shocks and fighting food insecurity and poverty.”
Working together against climate change
Climate shocks have become more frequent, intense and unpredictable in Malawi in recent years, continuing a cycle of food and nutrition poverty. Through an integrated risk management approach, WFP is working with the government and its partners to alleviate the implications of the climate catastrophe on vulnerable and food-insecure communities.
Malawi has been implementing this project since 2015, and it is made feasible by multi-stakeholder partnerships. WFP works with technical departments at the central and district levels of the Malawian government, as well as financial support from a number of development partners, including the adaptation fund, Flanders, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
WFP is calling for better risk management systems and funding for governments to aid with climate change adaptation efforts at the 26th conference of the parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK.
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