How Climate Risk Insurance and Information Is Changing Minds

The case of Zambia’s smallholder farmers

Training of Trainers for farmers in the Eastern Province are used as an outreach tool that makes the conveyed information more acceptable and comprehensible. As farmers are trained, awareness of climate risk insurance and climate information is spread to more farmers. Climate information services and insurance are ways to help manage the increasing risks that farmers face due to more frequent extreme weather events. Photo: ⎮ © GIZ/Mwale Photographics, 2021

In recent years, Zambians have been hit hard by extreme weather events. Droughts, dry spells and heavy rainfall caused by climate change are threatening the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands in the country.

Many of the extreme conditions occur more often lately and will certainly have a tremendous impact on smallholder farmers and downstream actors in the agricultural value chain.

Every year, around three million people in Zambia are affected by drought. Estimates forecast that this figure could rise to seven million by 2050. Unfortunately, Zambia lacks both information and structured information dissemination mechanisms on climate change as well as climate risk insurance. This entails there is insufficient weather forecast information for farmers and a lack of efficient modeling to provide climate risk insurance.

In the 2020/21 agricultural season, nearly 3,000 farmers — half of which were female — purchased climate risk insurance through intermediaries who received substantial support by the Climate Risk Insurance and Information in Zambia (CRIIZ) project.

One of the supported intermediaries is Agora Microfinance Zambia, a microfinance institution that offers loans to subsistence farmers and small commercial farmers engaged in crop production. Agora Microfinance Zambia’s loans for rain-fed crop production are bundled with weather index insurance covering excess rainfall or drought scenarios.

In the lead-up to the 2020/21 agricultural season the CRIIZ project supported Agora Microfinance Zambia with conducting training on the benefits of weather index insurance for their regional branch managers and selected farmers.

In addition, CRIIZ provided posters, leaflets and other specialized information products that help its staff to explain the benefits of weather index insurance to their customers. As a result of this engagement over 1,200 smallholder farmers signed up for weather index insurance in the 2020/21 farming season. This equals a portfolio with a sum insured of about K18,000,000 and an increase of Agora Microfinance Zambia´s insured farmers by over 400% compared to the previous agricultural season.

The uptake of policies by such a considerable number of farmers shows how some of the efforts of the CRIIZ project are indeed slowly changing the attitude that individuals have towards climate change and climate risk insurance specifically. It’s also a means to convey the message of how insurance may be a risk management tool to increase productivity for the farmer and this further reinforces how critical climate risk insurance is.

About the Climate Risk Insurance and Information in Zambia project

Implemented by GIZ and commissioned by BMZ, the project seeks to ensure that agricultural actors have better access to private-sector climate risk insurance and information on climate risk, thereby helping change the mindsets about climate change.

Working closely with Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture and other public and private-sector groups, the project aims to improve the access of 100,000 Zambian farmers to information on climate-related risks and bring climate-related insurance to 30,000 farmers.


Olivia Chimfwembe Ngaba, Junior Advisor, Climate Risk Insurance and Information in Zambia project,