Pioneering insurance policy greatly benefits poor farmers finds UNbacked report

24 June 2009The fragile livelihoods of millions of poor farmers in developing countries, often devastated by adverse weather conditions, have been fortified by an innovative insurance scheme, according to a United Nations-backed report released today. A variable and unpredictable climate can restrict income and limit development for many smallholders, as banks, for example, are unlikely to lend to farmers if a drought will cause widespread defaults, even if the farmers could pay back loans in most years. This lack of access to credit restricts farmers’ ability to buy improved seeds, fertilizers and other inputs needed to cultivate land, according to the Index Insurance and Climate Risk: Prospects for development and disaster management report launched at the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF) in Geneva today.Index Insurance uses a measure of weather, such as the amount of rainfall, to determine payouts, resolving a number of problems that make traditional insurance unworkable in rural parts of developing countries, said the report.With Index Insurance contracts, there is no need to visit the policyholder to determine premiums or assess damages. Instead, if the rainfall recorded by gauges is below an agreed-upon threshold, the insurance pays out. Having this insurance allows farmers to apply for bank loans and other types of credit which was previously inaccessible, said the report, which was produced by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) in partnership with UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Food Programme (WFP), among other governmental and non-governmental agencies.“Only the richest three per cent of people in the world are covered by insurance,” said Olav Kjorven, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Development Policy. “The world’s poor have been completely left out, even though they are the most vulnerable people most in need of protection.“Droughts, floods and hurricanes often strip whole communities of their resources and belongings,” he said, adding that Index Insurance could “finally enable millions of poor people to access financial tools for development and properly prepare for and recover from climate disasters.”A number of projects have shown that Index Insurance is affordable for people living on just $2 a day, an example being farming communities in Malawi which have been able to buy small insurance contracts to cover the purchase price of seeds in case of drought since 2005, according to the report.Nearly two million Indian farmers have also had access to Index Insurance programmes since 2003, but in order to achieve their full potential, applications of Index Insurance will need to scale up to reach many more people, the report stressed. read more

Australia reach field hockey final vs Dutch despite defeat

CHANGZHOU, China — Australia backed into the Women’s Champions Trophy final against the Netherlands after surprisingly losing to Japan 3-1 on Saturday.The Hockeyroos’ nerves were then jangling when China had a chance to make the field hockey final but lost to the Dutch 2-1.The Australians will meet the Netherlands in the final on Sunday, five days after the Dutch crushed them 3-0. Both teams will be going for a record-tying seventh title. Their last match was in the Women’s World Cup semifinals in July, when the Netherlands won in a shootout.Japan hadn’t won a match in the round robin, but started fast against Australia with goals to Yuri Nagai in the third minute and Yukari Mano on a counterattack. Minami Shimizu scored off a deflection to start the second half, and Australia finally unlocked the Japan defence through newcomer Penny Squibb from a penalty corner in the 54th.China then needed a draw or win, be the first team to take points from the Netherlands. But Maxime Kerstholt scored the only goal of the first half.And when China swapped out its goalkeeper, the Dutch swapped their’s, too, and reacted first. Marijn Veen scored her tournament-leading fifth goal for insurance.In the final seconds, Gu Bingfeng scored from a penalty corner for China, only the second goal conceded by the Netherlands in five matches.Argentina, the titleholder, stayed in the medal hunt after taking down Olympic champion Britain 1-0. Victoria Sauze scored from a penalty corner in the fifth minute, and Argentina held on.Argentina will play China on Sunday for bronze.___More AP sports: and Associated Press read more