In 2009, Oxfam took forward a civil society demand for anagricultural insurance scheme against climate risks inBolivia and worked with international colleagues andlocal experts to collect information and data supportingthe initiative.
The government developed a policy for universalagricultural insurance. However, opposition fromfarmers’ organisations led to the initiative beingdropped. When the government showed renewedinterest, Oxfam supported a consultation process with abroad alliance of farmers’ organisations and builtmomentum locally and nationally.
As a result, Bolivia now has the legal framework andinstitutional bodies to implement universal agriculturalinsurance. A scheme for poor farmers is reaching nearly700,000 people, and will be rolled out to the rest ofBolivia over the next five years.
The success of the initiative shows the importance ofseizing opportunities yet exercising patience and beingready to change strategy. This $90K Oxfam project helpedleverage government funds of US$4.43 million with anexpected subsidy of US$29 million.
Oxfam has been a member of the Platform
of SocialOrganisations Against Climate Change since it wasestablished in 2009, calling for the Bolivian government toimplement public and institutional policies to help citizensadapt to changing weather conditions. One of thePlatform’s demand was an agricultural insurance schemefor smallholder farmers to reduce crop losses caused byclimate change. Oxfam carried out activities to generateknowledge and discussion around a proposal for a nationalinsurance system against climate risks. A number of events coincided with this work that made itparticularly timely. At the international level, Oxfam wasadvocating for a Green Climate Fund to support countriessuffering from the effects of climate change. Nationally, theBolivian Government was promoting and leading the WorldPeople’s Conference on Climate Change, while the Presidentwas presenting himself as an
indigenous leader defendingagainst the environmental consequences of development.Perhaps most importantly, Bolivian social organisationswere increasingly demanding policies to favour thegovernment’s social grassroots.
Oxfam decided to communicate directly with thegovernment about an agricultural insurance scheme whilebeing transparent about these plans with local partners.This made use of Oxfam’s networks and internationalknowledge about similar insurance schemes in othercountries which local NGOs could not access. Oxfamcontacted colleagues in other countries to gatherinformation on similar insurance schemes internationallyand developed contacts with specialists in the field. At thelocal level, institutions and individuals provided data on thenegative effects of climate change on crops, the number of
Flooding causes extensive damage for farmers in Bolivia every year.Credit: Peter Tecks.
Leveraging for change:advocating for auniversal agriculturalinsurance scheme inBolivia