Should the Poor Be Insured to Shoulder the Burden of Climate Change?


Photo credit: BBC

Here's a novel idea: have international donor agencies pay the poor in developing countries a small premium to insure them against natural disasters. Considering that in 2006 alone the world experienced 427 natural catastrophes that affected about 143 million people, it's probably not such a crazy idea. And we already know, thanks to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, that there is strong evidence to suggest that we'll see more and more extreme weather conditions attributed to global warming.

It's the brainchild of Sir John Holmes, under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief co-ordinator at the United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who is pushing donor agencies to at least explore an insurance-based approach.

"It may be a more cost effective response than trying to raise money after the event," Holmes told IPS. "A hungry farmer who has lost his crops in a flood would need relief agencies for food, but if he has the money he doesn't have to depend on them."In 2005 the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) and World Bank Commodity Risk Management Group launched a pilot project with global reinsurance company AXA RE in Ethiopia to insure farmers against severe drought. The pilot seeks to test out insurance against the risks of food shortages and famine that threaten 17 million farmers when drought strikes. The insurance would kick in when rainfall from March to October falls below a given minimum. However because there has been no severe drought in the past three years the model has not been tested. :: Via IPS

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