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Flood insurance scheme for casual labourers

  • Published at 02:22 pm August 3rd, 2020
Children commuting haphazardly due to lack of other modes of transportation in flood-hit Kurigram district Dhaka Tribune

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Oxfam Bangladesh, and Green Delta Insurance Company Limited jointly launched the flood insurance scheme on July 1

A new insurance scheme to protect casual agricultural labourers in Bangladesh from catastrophic floods during this year’s monsoon season has been launched a month ago.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Oxfam Bangladesh, and Green Delta Insurance Company Limited jointly launched the flood insurance scheme on July 1, said a press statement released jointly by the respective organizations. 

The ongoing floods have affected more than 1 million people in South Asia over the last two months.

Recognizing the wages lost due to disasters during the monsoon period which runs from the beginning of July to end of September in  2020, the scheme will support 2000 casual labourers engaged in agricultural work in Jatrapur and Ranigonj Unions under Kurigram Sadar and Chilmari upazilas of Kurigram district, said the press release.

Based on the set parameters of the flood index, each household will receive a payout of Tk2,700-Tk18,000 to cover their wage losses caused by severe flooding. 

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

Enhance households’, communities’ abilities to absorb climate shocks

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 sufferings caused 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.

File photo: A girl moving through floodwaters in Gaibandha on Sunday, July 26, 2020 | Dhaka Tribune

"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 the most with loss of wages and agricultural produce”, said Koica Bangladesh Office Country Director Young-ah Doh.

“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," she added.

Casual labourers face the brunt of flooding

“While climate change affects us all, many low-income communities like casual labourers in the agricultural sector are bearing the brunt of the impact that further drives inequality, despite 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,” added Dipankar.

Hardship follows flood | Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune 

The product has been developed based on an analysis of over 19 years of satellite data and validated by water level and rainfall data. 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. Moreover, through supporting marginalized people by ensuring their financial security during devastating floods, it will also strengthen the SDG [sustainable development goals]  journey of Bangladesh.”

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

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