Vulnerable rural households in Malawi and Zambia will soon be able to better protect their crops and livelihoods against climate variability thanks to the expansion of the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4).

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) committed US$6.6 million at the Climate Summit today to expand the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) and Oxfam America’s R4 programme to the two new countries.

After showing significant impact in Senegal and Ethiopia, WFP and Oxfam America now aim to bring the resilience package to at least 4,000 farmers in Malawi and Zambia by 2017, and scale up the programme in the following years.

“Our aim is to take insurance where it is most needed and help communities be stronger in the face of disasters, be able to invest in new seeds and fertilizers and guarantee food is on the table all year long. Protected by insurance, families facing a drought or other shock, will no longer find themselves forced into desperate measures, such as selling their farm animals or taking their children out of school,” says Richard Choularton, Chief of the Climate Resilience for Food Security Unit at WFP.

To date, R4 has helped 25,000 farmers in Ethiopia and 6,000 farmers in Senegal through a comprehensive risk management approach that improves natural resources management and reduces the impact of climate shocks when they occur. R4 extends insurance protection against drought to vulnerable smallholder farmers, safeguarding their livelihoods so they can be confident that their investments will not be lost when a shock hits.
Results from R4 in Ethiopia show that the initiative is helping improve farmers’ resilience. Insured farmers save more than twice than those without any insurance, and they invest more in seeds, fertilizer and productive assets. Women, who often head the poorest households, achieve the largest gains in productivity.

More than one billion people in the developing world live on less than a dollar a day and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Vulnerability to climate-related shocks is a constant threat to their food security and wellbeing. As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of these shocks, the challenges faced by food insecure farmers also increase. Strategies for reducing and mitigating climate related risks are therefore essential to overcoming hunger, achieving food security and enhancing resilience.

“Rural areas of Southern African are already severely affected by the impact of climate change. Providing vulnerable smallholder farmers, including women, with an integrated risk-management package is the best way to sustainably build their resilience. This package combines tools that enable  them to cope better such as  insurance and saving, and strategies that will help them adapt their livelihoods to a changing climate, such as soil and water conservation and other farming practices,” says Juliane Ineichen, Deputy Director of the SDC Regional Programme for Southern Africa.

WFP and Oxfam America launched R4 in 2011 to empower farmers and food insecure rural households to build assets that improve the productivity of smallholder farmers and reduce the impact of climate shocks when they occur. R4 integrates four risk management strategies: improved natural resource management, agricultural insurance, and access to credit and savings. WFP and Oxfam America aim to reach a total of 100,000 insured farmers by 2017.

For more information on the initiative, including partners and funders:


WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food in emergencies and working with communities to build resilience. In 2013, WFP assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries. The World Food Programme approaches the challenge of climate change from the point of view of its impact on hunger, food security and nutrition, ensuring that those who are most vulnerable and at risk of hunger have adequate access to food.

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