Member profile: World Food Programme

Thursday, December 12, 2019

MiN spoke to World Food Programme’s Insurance Advisor Mathieu Dubreuil and Financial Inclusion and Risk Financing Specialist, Josh Ling about the importance of disaster risk management, measuring the impact of insurance and the need for a regional approach to sharing and learning.

MiN: What is the main focus of World Food Programme (WFP)?

Mathieu: WFP’s overall objective is achieving food security and achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger. In WFP’s Climate & Disaster Risk Reduction unit we work mostly on the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative and the African Risk Capacity (ARC) Replica programme.

R4 is at the micro level, currently operating in seven African countries - Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi and Zambia - and we are also working on expansions in Mozambique, Bangladesh and Guatemala. It is an integrated climate risk management strategy in collaboration with other WFP programmes that improve market access, build resilience and deliver social protection that is more shock-responsive. In 2019, we expect to reach roughly 100,000 households (500,000 beneficiaries).

We’re trying to streamline insurance into WFP core operations, a process that requires progressively building internal capacity and mechanisms to integrate actions across the humanitarian and development sectors.

Josh: Our focus is all about making our beneficiaries more resilient to climate shocks. We want to expand this model to new regions - flood risk in Bangladesh and drought risk in Central America - embedding insurance as part of a suite of services (financial and otherwise) that enable these populations to become more climate resilient.

Mathieu: WFP is the world’s leading humanitarian organisation, helping 86 million people in 83 countries. WFP’s motto is “Saving Lives, Changing Lives”. Insurance can help with both, providing early response in case of a shock and protecting investments that improve livelihoods in the longer term. As we are serving resource-poor and vulnerable communities, usually with low farming productivity levels, our entry point is social protection. So, designing an inclusive insurance component is quite different to purely commercial schemes and projects, as our objective is not to sell insurance but introduce integrated solutions for food security.

MiN: Climate and disaster risk are top of the agenda - but how does insurance help?

Mathieu: Insurance is a disaster risk financing tool. It should be considered as part of a broader disaster risk management strategy that also includes risk reduction measures. We build our approach on insurance through its three different effects - protection, promotion and transformation. Insurance protection covers people’s livelihoods and assets, while promotion and transformation are about creating the right incentives for people to undertake a mix of measures to reduce risks in bad years - for example, shifting farmers’ production towards more drought-resistant crops and riskier investments that can generate more income in good years.

MiN: Why is WFP a member of the MiN?

Josh: Most of the inclusive insurance community continues to be close-knit, and the MiN facilitates that community of practice and provides a space for members to interact. It’s an environment where lessons, ideas, collaborations and partnerships are shared and developed amongst open-minded colleagues.

The MiN also supports policy and advocacy for insurance regulation (in partnership with the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2ii) and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS)) and is active in forums on financial inclusion, which is not the core focus of WFP as it relates to insurance. Having access to those conversations and understanding what is going on at that policy level is incredibly useful.

Mathieu: WFP joined the MiN in 2016 because we wanted to share our experience. We have a unique approach compared to most others in the microinsurance sector, but we also wanted to learn from other members’ experiences. MiN members actually implement programmes and products, whereas other platforms tend to be at a higher strategic level. We believe we need to contribute to both.

MiN: What are some key lessons from your work you can share with other members?

Mathieu: We have seen and shown evidence that insurance not only builds resilience to climate shocks, but also improves food security and nutrition when it is integrated into broader risk management strategies. This evidence is a pretty powerful indication of what insurance can actually do.

Josh: Insurance is not a standalone, it complements other financial services and other resilience interventions. Insurance requires many different stakeholders and moving them forward coherently is always a challenge - but we are overcoming that and we are able to still reach large numbers of people in various countries.

MiN: How can the MiN and WFP best collaborate?

Mathieu: WFP has invested a lot to set up specific monitoring and evaluation systems, and we could work more closely with MiN to improve guidance on gauging the impact of inclusive insurance and how we contribute to measuring impact. Of course, the MiN already helped develop the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and we have a number of stakeholders using them. Still, beyond the business monitoring and development purpose, they can be a first step to understand something bigger. Like how we contribute to SDGs for instance. That’s one area where we could collaborate more.

Josh: WFP has strong experience of the countries it operates in, and that is something we can bring to the Network. We need to find the right partnerships to understand different regional markets. The MiN’s strategy recognises that regional engagement is very important - it’s not enough to have a big international conference in a region once every three years, we need to continue to think beyond the ICII to promote further regional engagement.