An Experiment in Crop Insurance for the Poor

This project is too small to be anything more than intriguing, but intriguing it is. Crop insurance for some of the world’s poorest farmers:

A quarter-century after famine killed one million Ethiopians and seared the world’s conscience, peasant farmers there are enduring an ever-faster barrage of droughts. Nearly 14 million people in Ethiopia are going hungry this year.

Those poor rains would not be fatal for American farmers, who have elaborate crop insurance programs to protect them in dry years. But such risk protection has been unthinkable in Ethiopia, one of the world’s poorest countries.

Now, however, thanks to the innovative work of Oxfam America, the Boston-based global development organization, the risks are no longer as severe for hundreds of farmers in Tigray Province in northern Ethiopia. If the rains fail and their crops wither, their losses will be covered. And they won’t starve.

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