by Ejidiah Wangui
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Whenever drought
ravages Kenya, images from the northern parts of the country are
those of dusty plains dotted with carcasses of livestock that
succumbed to the harsh elements.
Cattle herders in
these regions are the hardest hit as their only source of income
is wiped out by natural calamities they have no power to
But amid the misery and despair, efforts to cushion these
herders against the vagaries of weather have started to bear
Vera Rosauer, a communication officer at the World Bank, told
Xinhua this week that the Kenya Livestock Insurance Program (KLIP),
an index insurance that insures vulnerable pastoralists in the
northern counties in the East African nation, has so far paid
out about 5.3 million U.S dollars to over 20,000 pastoralists in
"In the 2016-2017 season, due to a severe drought, KLIP had
two big payouts.
One in February to about 12,000 pastoral households of 2.1
million dollars and one in August to 11,500 pastoral households
of 3.1 million dollars.
"This has helped reach about 100,000 people given the
extended size of households in the North," she said.
According to the World Bank official, unlike previous
interventions where responses involved mobilizing emergency
relief which would arrive too late to save the animals,
KLIP provides protection starting at the beginning of a
season, and if a drought strikes, payouts happen quickly to
beneficiaries to allow them to buy water or food to keep the
"It is all about prevention, rather than cure, and speed of
"It is also a transparent and predictable way to provide
disaster relief which leverages private sector expertise and
capital," said Rosauer.
Kenya is exposed to severe droughts which strike about every
three to five years.
In northern Kenya, livestock represent 70 percent of
When drought occurs, households are at risk of losing their
livestock, and their main source of food and income.
During the severe droughts between 2008 and 2011, the Kenyan
economy lost heavily.
The livestock sector was hit hardest.
According to Rosauer, Kenya is one of the very few countries
in Sub-Saharan Africa where the index insurance program has the
potential to scale up to attain commercial sustainability.
Ethiopia too has a similar program.
Launched in October 2015 in Wajir and Turkana where about
5,000 pastoral households were covered, the program spread
tentacles in October 2016 to cover Marsabit, Mandera, Tana River
and Isiolo Counties and insured about 14,000 pastoral
The central government, Rosauer said, pays insurance premiums
for county-selected pastoralists, and private insurance
companies develop the insurance policy and pay claims when they
"In 2016-2017, a pool of seven insurance companies reinsured
by Swiss Re provided insurance cover.
"The insurance only provides cover for the equivalent of five
cows, and targets the most vulnerable pastoralists," she
In the program, counties are broken down into zones with
similar climate and soil conditions called "unit areas of
A satellite reads every 10 days the level of pasture in these
zones to produce a vegetation index, which is used as a proxy
for the health of livestock.
When the vegetation index falls below a pre-determined level,
all the insured beneficiaries in one zone receive a payout. The
payout amount depends on the degradation of the pasture.
"Payments are made primarily by M-Pesa, and by using agents
developed by some banks in the northern counties," noted Rosauer.
M-Pesa is the most popular mobile payment choice in Kenya.
KLIP is implemented by the Government of Kenya through the
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the County
The World Bank has provided technical support to the
government of Kenya to design KLIP in partnership with the
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Financial
Sector Deepening-Kenya (FSD).