A Kenyan research scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute based in Nairobi has won the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application for his work in providing insurance to livestock herders in East Africa’s drylands through innovative, state-of-the art technologies.
Dr Andrew Mude developed insurance for never-before-insured communities whose livelihoods depend on herding cattle, goats, sheep and camels in the remote, arid and drought-prone lowlands of the Horn of Africa.
Dr Mude applied satellite data to achieve an innovative and highly effective solution that helps pastoral livestock herders reduce the considerable and costly drought-risk they face in this region.
The award endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation, reserved for individuals under the age of 40, was presented to the winner by Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, President of the World Food Prize Foundation, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, at an event hosted by Director General Jimmy Smith of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Nairobi, Kenya.
“Dr Mude reflects Borlaug-like persistence in his science-based, community mediated, and innovative approach to providing financial protection, through insurance, to millions of poor herders and their families who care for and depend upon their livestock as they move across the vast rangelands of East Africa,” Quinn said, adding that "It should be a matter of great pride for Kenya that two of the first five Borlaug Field Award recipients are Kenyans." Dr Charity Mutegi, also of Kenya received the award in 2013.
Dr Mude will be formally presented with US$10,000 and the “Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application, Endowed by the Rockefeller Foundation”, on October 12, 2016, in a ceremony, in which Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin will participate, in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, as part of the 2016 World Food Prize international symposium.
A Kenya native who received his Ph.D. from Cornell University, 39-year-old Mude is a principal economist at ILRI. He spearheads a program called “Index-Based Livestock Insurance” (IBLI), which is greatly reducing the vulnerability of East Africa’s livestock herding families to recurring droughts, which kill great numbers of livestock, sending many hungry households in remote regions into deep and lasting poverty.
Since launching IBLI in 2008, Dr Mude and his team have engaged local herders and leaders in building and delivering extension education programs—employing videos, cartoons, and radio broadcasts—to increase understanding of the principles and coverage of the insurance plans.
Before Dr Mude’s innovative approach was implemented, African herders had no access to livestock insurance. It was highly impractical and costly for insurance claim adjusters to travel through East Africa to confirm dead animals and pay claims. IBLI eliminates the need for such visual confirmation of stock losses by using satellite data to monitor grazing conditions when these conditions are seen to fall below a certain threshold, this data serves as a proxy for dead animals, and insurance payouts are made.
By early 2016, 11,800 IBLI contracts had been sold (representing an insured livestock value of $5,350,000) and $149,007 indemnity payments made to insured pastoralists. In future, more than 50 million pastoralists across Africa are expected to have an opportunity to benefit from this financial technology.
“Dr Mude represents the type of citizen-servant we as a government are proud to partner with; a citizen dedicated to helping grow the productivity and welfare of the Kenyan people,” said the Honorable Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary in the Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. “It’s because of his passion, commitment, and technical competence that we’re now planning to replicate this novel insurance scheme across all of northern Kenya, where some 4 million pastoralists depend primarily on livestock.”
“I believe Dr Mude’s Index Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) program is a remarkable example of the innovative, market-driven solutions that develop when countries invest in quality education for young people”, said the US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec.
"With today’s changing climate, weather-based insurance has become a critical tool in building the resilience of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations,” said Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office. "By utilizing the most current technology, Dr Mude's innovation is helping pastoralist livestock herders protect their livelihoods. We can provide farmers with no better form of food security than by empowering them to protect themselves from the impacts of climate change,” Biteye added.
“We have the satellite technology needed to monitor grazing conditions in the remotest of regions,” Dr Mude said. “We should be using it to ensure that Africa’s remote livestock herders have access to basic insurance farmers around the world take for granted. We draw inspiration from Borlaug’s lifelong commitment to make his research make a difference. Together with many partners and the herders themselves and only together we're determined to find new ways to help millions of people continue to practice the oldest form of sustainable food production the world has ever seen,” he emphasised.
Dr Mude’s IBLI team, the government’s KLIP has already provided 5,012 households with IBLI coverage and just last week (August 24, 2016) it made indemnity payments to a few hundred herders in Kenya’s huge and arid northern county of Wajir, which has suffered prolonged drought. And in Ethiopia, Kenya’s neighbour to the north, a government pilot project spearheaded by Dr Mude’s team is working to scale out this insurance program while the World Food Program is making IBLI-type insurance a key pillar of its food security strategy in Ethiopia’s pastoralist lowlands. Other governments and development agencies are seeking help in testing IBLI-type policies across West Africa’s Sahel and the drylands of southern Africa.
ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith agrees: "Take it to the farmers’ are reported to be the last words uttered by Norman Borlaug before he died. Dr Andrew Mude and his team, working with the Kenya and Ethiopian governments and others, have taken Borlaug’s injunction to heart, and are taking it even further to thousands of individual pastoralists raising and herding their animal stock across the vast, remote and generally inhospitable drylands of the Horn of Africa."