Nanok Longaricho, a 65-year-old man residing in the South Omo Zone, Omorate area in Ethiopia, was once considered the wealthiest individual in his village. According to tradition, he refrained from disclosing the exact number of his livestock assets, fearing that misfortune would befall them if he did. Unfortunately, his efforts to protect his cattle proved futile, as over 85% of them perished during the extended dry season of 2021 to 2022.
Drought destroying livelihoods
Many communities across East Africa have been decimated by the region’s worst drought in over 40 years. Across Ethiopia alone, 24 million people have been affected. Many who relied on their livestock for sustenance and income now found themselves dependent on humanitarian aid.
To address the challenges faced by pastoralists like Nanok, the Resilience In Pastoral Areas (RiPA) initiative has been dedicated to promoting awareness and access to Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI). This insurance option provides pastoralists with a valuable resource to protect their cattle during drought seasons and receive compensation in the event of cattle losses caused by drought-related factors.
Initially, there was limited interest among pastoralists in learning about and purchasing Index-Based Livestock Insurance policies. However, persistent efforts were made to highlight the significance of this insurance. It was during this time that a severe drought struck, resulting in the loss of countless pastoral livestock.
Nanok shared his experience, stating, “I never imagined something like this could happen to me. My cattle diminished one by one, and I felt powerless to save them. After losing most of my livestock, I fell ill and experienced a significant weight loss. Although my children took me to the hospital, the doctors determined that my health issues were primarily due to stress and anxiety.”
Benefits of livestock insurance
In addition to the RiPA initiative, local NGOs, international NGOs, and government-affiliated business entities also joined the campaign to raise awareness about Index-Based Livestock Insurance. RiPA has reached nine districts and over 36 kebeles (small administrative units). As a result, more than 1302 households have purchased insurance policies to protect their livestock assets.
Lom Alule, a pastoralist who holds an insurance policy, shared the positive impact of the initiative: “The insurance company provided payouts to community members who had the policy and lost their cattle. With the compensation, they were able to purchase animal feed from different areas and save their remaining livestock. It was at this point that the community truly understood the practical importance of the insurance.”
Nanok Longaricho, who recently purchased an insurance policy, now keeps his remaining cattle in a fattening shade and hopes to gradually rebuild his way of life.
“Despite the significant loss of my livestock assets, I am grateful to your organisation for introducing me to this insurance and helping me save what remains,” Nanok said, smiling.