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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Issue #178

Insurance payouts for herders

Livestock owners in northern Kenya have suffered terrible losses in the recent drought. But a fortunate few have received compensation for their lost animals. They took out insurance policies in an innovative project run by the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi.

Female fish vendors in the Sud Kivu region of DRCongo have been facing requests from fishermen that they would prefer not to fulfill. But many feel they have no choice. Read about their difficulties below.

Intergovernmental climate change talks will take place in Durban later this year. The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions will attend as an observer. The organization aims to represent African farmers at the conference. Read more about their concerns below.

Happy reading!

-The Farm Radio Weekly team

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Kenya: Pastoralists receive insurance payments for livestock lost to drought (ILRI/AlertNet)

Marsabit District in northern Kenya is littered with the carcasses of cattle and donkeys. The animals died because of the prolonged drought. This represents a huge loss for pastoralists. But in the midst of this loss, they received some financial relief. For the first time, the pastoralists received payouts from an innovative insurance scheme.

Halakhe Salesa Dambi is a pastoralist from Marsabit who bought the insurance. He says, “The amount of money I received, 6600 Kenyan shillings [US$66], is not that much. But it will help me support my family for everything we need for two weeks, although it can’t buy me some more cattle.”

The livestock insurance scheme compensates herders who are expected to lose more than 15% of their herd. The scheme does not count actual animal losses due to drought, but uses satellite images to assess the loss of grazing lands.

This season, satellite readings showed that up to a third of livestock in the region had been lost to drought. All areas where pastoralists purchased policies have exceeded the 15% animal loss threshold which triggers payouts. A total of 650 pastoralists have been compensated.

The insurance scheme is maintained by the International Livestock Research Institute or ILRI, and was developed with financial and academic partners. Isaac Magina is head of agriculture insurance at UAP Insurance Ltd. He says, “It’s terrible that we are seeing this level of loss, but gratifying that the policies are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to help herders avert disaster when weather conditions dry up pasture lands and animals begin to perish.”

Most people in Marsabit District are herders. Together, they own 86,000 cattle and two million goats and sheep. In Kenya, the pastoral livestock sector is worth an estimated 800 million dollars.

Jimmy Smith is director general of ILRI. He is optimistic about the insurance scheme. But he cautions that the insurance scheme is still a work in progress. According to reports from partners on the ground, ILRI’s method of estimating livestock deaths appears to be accurate. Mr. Smith thinks that using satellite data to estimate losses could make livestock insurance more widely available in Africa.

Andrew Mude is the insurance scheme’s project leader at ILRI. He notes that insurance alone is not sufficient to help livestock keepers maintain food security. Better access to grazing land and water is also needed. But he believes pastoralism could be an effective way to meet future food needs.

Mr. Mude says it is not yet clear how the insurance payouts will affect food security. ILRI will conduct research to find out how the scheme is benefitting the households which bought insurance.

Project leaders hope they have gained the herders’ trust with the first payments. Currently, the project is funded by numerous donors. The next step looks as whether the scheme could work with commercial partners only, and how it might be scaled up.

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Democratic Republic of the Congo: When fish cost more than money (Syfia Grands Lacs)

It is six in the morning when the fishing canoes approach Kavinvira beach, near the town of Uvira in DR Congo. Men and women rush to buy fresh fish. They will sell it in Uvira market. But for some, this transaction has a hidden cost. One Congolese woman explains, “Before the fishermen agree to sell the fish to us, we have to sleep with them.”

This happens at other beaches too. A woman at Kabimba beach says, “Sometimes we offer the fishermen money. Even so, most of them ask us to have sex with them, or they will not sell us the fish.” She says that some comply because they feel they have no alternative.

Most women who sell fish at the market have no other way to earn money. Their husbands earn little, averaging between 20,000 and 35,000 Congolese francs per month (US$22-40). Nabintu sells fish in the market. She says, “This job  … allows me to cover household expenses, clothing, and school fees for children. So if I give up, who will take care of me and my family?”

Some vendors purchase fish on credit. They agree to pay by a certain date. A fisherman who prefers to remain anonymous comments, “It’s when they cannot pay their debts that we offer them sexual activity so that the debt is not left unpaid.”

There are more fish vendors than fishers. Therefore, the demand for fish is higher than the supply and fishermen can decide to whom they will sell their fish. One tries to make light of the situation, saying, “We only sell to those who agree.”

Also, it is difficult for male vendors to buy fresh fish. Mangaiko is a father of seven. He has been to the beach but has not been able to buy any fish.

Only a few female vendors refuse to sell their bodies. They acknowledge this fact when they talk among themselves. But some women do turn away. A woman from Kasenga named Vicky abandoned the work. She found it dishonourable to trade sex for the right to buy fish. Since then, she has been farming on the Ruzizi plain. She asks her friends not to give in to the fishermen. She says, “[My friends] must be prepared to abandon the business … because life is not just selling fish.”

The fishermen’s demands have consequences for women. In August, a woman in Songo district became pregnant and her husband left her. In neighbourhoods such as Kilibula and Kalundu, other couples have separated.

Dr. Claude works in a local hospital. He warns, “Women and men who engage in [this practice] are at risk of catching [the] pandemic of the century.” He is referring to HIV and AIDS. When a woman vendor agrees to a fisherman’s demands for sex, condoms are rarely used.

For two months, the media and other organizations in Uvira have been trying to combat this practice. Jean-Bosco Lubatu is a human rights journalist. He advises women on other ways to earn a living, such as making soap or baking. A local NGO has been raising awareness among men and women fish traders, fishers, and fishing team leaders.

Some women promise not to give in to the fishermen any longer. But others say that if they have no other way to earn money, they cannot refuse. And the vendors’ husbands feel powerless to act.

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Southern Africa: Agricultural unions to observe climate change meeting (AFP)

Representatives of farmers unions in southern Africa have been granted “observer status” at the upcoming climate change talks in Durban, South Africa. The unions want the United Nations to simplify regulations for accessing climate change funds. They intend to represent farmers’ concerns at these high level talks.

The next session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP 17, will be held in South Africa, from November 28 to December 9, 2011. COP 17 aims to assess progress and negotiate international agreements on dealing with climate change.

The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions, or SACAU, is calling for the United Nations to simplify funding regulations for climate change projects. SACAU refers specifically to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) fund. This fund represents an opportunity for developing countries.  It allows companies in industrialized countries to buy the rights to emit greenhouse gases in exchange for funding “clean” projects such as reforestation in developing countries.

According to a 2009 SACAU study, only six projects related to agriculture in South Africa have been funded through the CDM. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) confirmed that, of all projects funded by the Clean Development Mechanism, only four per cent are in Africa. Most are in China, India, and Brazil.

These low numbers raise the question: why do African projects struggle to access funds? Effatah Jele represents the Zambia National Farmers Union. She comments, “Small farmers do not have the knowledge to present projects.” Administrative and technical requirements put farmers off. But many already recognize the impacts of climate change, and are eager to access funds to address these impacts.

Christina Seeberg-Elverfeldt works on climate change issues with the FAO. She describes the process of applying for funding as “very complicated, very long, but possible.” She says that farmers need to group together and set up projects that involve at least 50,000 farmers.

As observers at COP 17, SACAU will be able to engage with policy makers at the highest level. SACAU’s website states that the organization is: “Committed to tak[ing] leadership in voicing out African farmers’ concerns about climate change and advocating for farmer focused responses in the African agricultural sector.”

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Notes to broadcasters on livestock insurance payouts

Farm Radio Weekly first reported on this insurance scheme when it was in the early stages of development (see http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/11/23/kenya-livestock-insurance-will-protect-livelihoods-from-drought-and-floods-associated-press-business-daily-ilri/). This week’s story states that the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has made the first payouts. Earlier this month, herders received payments from the first ever index-based livestock insurance scheme in Africa (other forms of livestock insurance schemes have been tested previously in Africa). ILRI told Farm Radio Weekly that, “While it is estimated that about one-third of the cattle in this region died due to the drought, herders who took out insurance for, say, 10 of their cattle, have been paid for all 10 animals whether or not those animals died or survived the drought.”

Sake Halakhe is a herder who was present at the meeting where the first payouts were made. On video, she told her story: ” My children came to me and told me about insurance and an insurance agent came here to tell us about it and that’s how I insured 10 cattle. The reason I started to insure my animals was because my children advised me to. The people of ILRI also came and advised me of the benefits of joining. I joined the second phase because I loved the idea of a better tomorrow. The first time I paid 4000 Kenya shillings, but today I got 16,000 shillings. With this money, I am going to buy some goat and cattle. I will advise the other women to join because its important.”

According to ILRI, if cattle are valued at 15,000 Kenyan shillings (Ksh) per head (about US$150), an insurance policy that covered 10 animals (about 150,000 Kenyan shillings or USD 1500) would pay out about Ksh 27,000 (US$270). Referring to farmers who have lost up to a third of their herds, Isaac Magina from UAP Insurance says, “When you look at a 33% loss, that is a significant portion of the asset base of any business and it would be difficult to survive without insurance.”

You can also watch these short videos on YouTube which show herders’ reactions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQs-us86D6M


For further comments from Jimmy Smith, ILRI’s director general, and photos of the community meeting he attended, visit:  http://www.ilri.org/ilrinews/index.php/archives/7348

Visit the Index-Based Livestock Insurance project’s website: http://livestockinsurance.wordpress.com/

Here are some previous Farm Radio International scripts on the subject of pastoralism:
Camels provide farmers in drylands with milk and income (Package 76, Script 4, October 2005) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/76-6script_en.asp
The role of native breeds in maintaining livestock health: Story ideas for the radio (Package 63, Script 3, April 2002) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/63-3script_en.asp
Livestock management practices to cope with climate change (Package 84, Script 7, August 2008) http://www.farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/84-7script_en.asp

Compare this week’s story to this previous Farm Radio Weekly story on crop insurance payouts:

-Kenya: Mixed reactions as farmers receive crop insurance payouts (FRW 130, October 2010)


You might like to produce a program looking at the potential advantages and disadvantages of crop or livestock insurance for farmers. These types of insurance are relatively new and may generate interesting discussions. You could ask an insurance expert to comment, and ask farmers or agricultural experts in your region what they think of insurance. Here are some questions to inspire you:

-Why do farmers think insurance is a good idea in their circumstances? Or a bad idea?

-What reasons would an insurance representative give to farmers to encourage them to sign up?

-How much of a necessity are these types of insurance in your broadcast region? For example, are rainfall patterns stable?

-How much would farmers be willing to pay for insurance?

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Notes to broadcasters on human rights stories

This is an example of a human rights story. These stories can be challenging for journalists to research and for media organizations to broadcast or publish. But they often have great impact. In this case, women fish vendors are being placed in what they feel is an impossible situation simply because they are female. Simply bringing this story to light may effect change.

There are many resources available to support journalists who wish to write human rights or gender-based stories. We list a few here:

-Journalists for Human Rights website: http://www.jhr.ca/en/index.php

-International Journalists Network’s “Human Rights” page: http://ijnet.org/topics/human-rights

-“A Gender and Media Advocacy Toolkit”:


Farm Radio Weekly has previously covered stories with a human rights focus, for example:

-Burkina Faso: Maternal health is a human right, insists Amnesty International (FRW 104, March 2010).


-Southern Africa: Some progress towards defending farm workers’ rights (FRW 33, August 2008).


-Ghana: Strong customary laws prove a blessing for women (by Pius Sawa, for Farm Radio Weekly in Kenya) (FRW 134, November 2010)


You can browse a variety of scripts on social and human rights issues in our archive: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/social.asp

Maybe some of these scripts or news items will inspire you to cover human rights issues in your region. Do you know of any issues similar to those raised in this week’s story from Democratic Republic of the Congo? Often, these situations continue in secrecy because people fear to speak out. Be sure of your facts, and remember to speak with officials and organizations who know the law and work to raise awareness.

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Notes to broadcasters on climate change talks

Months of preparation and negotiations have preceded the upcoming climate change talks in Durban. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty. It provides a framework for intergovernmental efforts to address climate change. Government representatives from around the world will attend the meetings, which are being referred to as COP 17 (Conference of the Parties). Many civil society groups will attend the conference in Durban with official observer status.

Visit the UNFCCC website here: http://unfccc.int/meetings/durban_nov_2011/session/6294.php

For more information about the UNFCC’s Clean Development Mechanism, visit: http://cdm.unfccc.int/

The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) has 16 members in 12 countries in southern Africa. Visit their website: http://www.sacau.org/

Script package 89, from December 2009 focused on the topic of climate change. Access scripts from this package and earlier scripts on the same topic here: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/climate.asp

Here are some stories on climate change published in Farm Radio Weekly:

-Rwanda: Climate change worries farmers on World Food Day (FRW 131, October 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/10/11/rwanda-climate-change-worries-farmers-on-world-food-day-by-jean-paul-ntezimana-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-rwanda/

-Kenya: Re-discovering cassava during drought (FRW 160, June 2011) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/06/20/kenya-re-discovering-cassava-during-drought-ips-daily-nation/

Uganda: Drama and song raise awareness of climate change (FRW 118, July 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/05/1-uganda-drama-and-song-raise-awareness-of-climate-change-by-sawa-pius-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-uganda/

-Kenya: Farmers use drought-resistant crops and improved access to water to adapt to climate change (FRW 114, June 2010) http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/06/07/2-kenya-farmers-use-drought-resistant-crops-and-improved-access-to-water-to-adapt-to-climate-change-farm-radio-weekly-scientific-american/

In view of the upcoming talks in Durban, you might want to prepare some radio spots to highlight climate change. You could ask farmers to ask how they experience climate change, and whether they are interested in the climate negotiations. Find out if the local agricultural extension department has information or projects on climate change, and ask them how the high-level talks affect their work. Ask if there is funding available for climate change projects for farmers, or if local government or NGO staff have experience accessing funding for climate change initiatives.

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Funds available for investigative reporters

Investigative reporters worldwide can apply for the I.F. Stone Award.

The Investigative Fund is now accepting proposals from young and emerging reporters or reporting teams. One or two I.F. Stone Award winners will be selected.

Winners will receive funding to cover the reporting costs of their project, to a maximum of $10,000. They can access editorial guidance from Investigative Fund editors, and publishing assistance in print, broadcast or online outlets. The deadline is November 25, 2011.

For more information and to apply, please visit this site.

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Fact checking tips for journalists

On the website “Media Helping Media,” journalists will find a wealth of free training materials in short easy-to-read chunks. We found their page “The importance of fact checking for journalists” particularly interesting and useful. Media Helping Media also have Twitter and Facebook accounts and a blog, so you can keep up-to-date with journalism tips and discussions in different ways.

This tip sheet includes gems like, “The first obstacle to accurate fact checking could be yourself.”

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Broadcasting partners enjoy climate change project

“We are receiving a lot of request[s] from communities to teach them on how they can make ceramic wood-saving stoves. This has happened because of the training the environmental reporters had when the project was starting,” says Pilirani Chimutu, Station Supervisor at Mudzi Wathu Community Radio in Mchinji, Malawi. Mudzi Wathu Community Radio is one of Farm Radio International’s broadcasting partners.

This station is one of six community radio stations in Malawi and Zambia who have participated in a project with an organization called “Developing Radio Partners.”  The project aims to engage and inform audiences on climate change in rural areas, using radio and FrontlineSMS. Five of the six stations involved are FRI partners:

In Zambia:
-Breeze FM in Chipata, Zambia.

-Petauke Explorers Radio

In Malawi:
-Mudzi Wathu Community Radio, Mchinji
-Dzimwe Community Radio, Monkey Bay
-Nkhotakota Community Radio, Nkhot‘akota

Read more about the activities here: http://developingradio.org/malawizambia.html

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Livestock management practices to cope with climate change

This script touches on two topics from this week’s stories: livestock and climate change.  Climate change can affect the productivity and health of livestock. As livestock are of great importance to many farmers’ livelihoods, farmers are looking for ways to manage the effects of climate change. The message of this script is that, in certain circumstances, it’s better for a farmer to keep fewer livestock so that he or she can manage them better. This message may be relevant or adaptable in many regions. Find out more by reading the whole script:


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