Insurance scheme launched to protect agri labourers

Diplomatic Correspondent

5 August, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Oxfam Bangladesh and Green Delta Insurance Company Ltd launched a new insurance scheme to protect casual agricultural labourers in Bangladesh from catastrophic floods during this monsoon season. 

Recognising the wages lost due to disasters during the monsoon period which runs from the beginning of July to end September 2020, the scheme will support 2000 casual labourers engaged in agricultural work in Jatrapur and Raniganj unions under Kurigram sadar and Chilmari upazilas of Kurigram district.

Based on the set parameters of flood index, each household will receive a pay-out of Tk 2,700 to Tk 18,000 to cover their wage losses caused by severe flooding, according to a joint press release of the three organisations issued on Monday.

 “People in Bangladesh do not have protection against the losses and damages caused by annual flooding. That’s why WFP is introducing a flood insurance scheme – the first of its kind,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Country Representative in Bangladesh.

More frequent rain and the changing climate have increased flooding in Bangladesh. The country is currently facing a devastating flood that has submerged towns and destroyed homes and crops, adding to the suffering already wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developed with funding from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the overall goal of the risk transfer solution is to enhance households’ and communities’ abilities to absorb climate shocks, improve their ability to reduce and manage risk and maintain food security.

Country Director of KOICA Bangladesh Office, Young-ah Doh said heavy precipitation and onrush of water from upstream have already inundated not only the project areas, but also whole districts in the northern and eastern regions of the country.

Vulnerable people, especially casual labourers and smallholder farmers have been affected most with loss of wages and agricultural produce”, he said.

 “KOICA believes that the innovative approaches, namely Index-based Flood Insurance, Forecast-based Financing and Seasonal Livelihood approaches, which are being piloted in this project will help reduce human suffering and the losses of the affected people. With a mission to leave no one behind with People-centered Peace and Prosperity, KOICA stands by the people of Bangladesh." “While climate change affects us all, many low-income communities like casual laborers in the agricultural sector are bearing the brunt of the impact that further drives inequality, even with them being the least responsible to contribute to climate change", said Oxfam  Bangladesh’s Country Director Dipankar Datta.

“We hope that the government will replicate and scale up our newly launched index-based flood insurance product to minimize the risk of extreme vulnerabilities and inequalities faced by the marginalized communities involved in agriculture in this country,” he added.

The pay-out will be made based on pre-defined flood indexed parameters such as inundated area as a percentage of the total geographical area and the duration of flooding. Green Delta Insurance Ltd will cover the risk as the insurer.

Managing Director and CEO of Green Delta Insurance Company Farzanah Chowdhury said, “I am excited about this partnership with WFP and Oxfam in Bangladesh as the product will be addressing the challenges faced by agriculture laborers due to climate change.

 Technical partners, Weather Risk Management Services (WRMS), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and Save Earth Climate Services Ltd. provided historical data to develop the index-based flood insurance product.