Private insurance to reduce Human-Wildlife Conflict


A one-day workshop on the role of private insurance in reducing the ‘Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) will be conducted by Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), UK in Colombo next week.

The workshop will present an overview of the issue, promote discussion among key stakeholders from the government, private sector and civil society and launch a three-year project funded by the Government of UK to pilot private insurance for human-wildlife incidents in the selected Districts from the Northwestern Province in Sri Lanka.

1. Human-Wildlife Conflict in Sri Lanka

The HWC imposes major economic and human costs on poor farmers in many parts of the world, particularly around protected areas – including in Sri Lanka. During the five-year period from 2011-2015, there were 414 human deaths due to elephant attacks (over 80 deaths per year), and 6,320 incidents of property damages according to the Department of Wildlife and Conservation (DWC, 2015) in Sri Lanka. The data are not collected on a gender disaggregated basis but generally both women and men are affected. On the other hand, 1,147 elephants’ deaths were reported due to this problem over the same period - an average of 230 a year or over 4 elephants killed per week. The Sri Lankan elephant has been listed as endangered.There are only between 2,500-4,000 elephants remaining in the wild, which is a drop of 50% in the past 60-75 years. Globally, many different interventions have been tried to reduce the HWC - including physical and financial measures – but have had limited success. Personal insurance has been used as an alternative strategy in a limited number of cases – but to date there have been few sustained efforts to involve commercial insurance companies into the process.

The Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) Project.

The project with funding from the Darwin initiative of the UK ’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs aims to assess over three years, the feasibility of implementing insurance as a tool for reducing the impacts of HWC in Sri Lanka and Kenya in collaboration with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) UK. In both countries, the project is intended to help the government to pilot new insurance schemes, learn from each other, and develop an effective national approach. The research will focus on four key challenges namely (a) Cost effective verification, (b) Timely and fair payments (c) Avoiding perverse incentives for conflict and linking payments to good husbandry and (d) Financial sustainability. It is expected that the project will reduce loss and damage caused due to the human elephant conflict for male and female farmers covered by insurance. Moreover, the introduction of private insurance is expected to reduce elephant fatalities caused by the HWC. In Sri Lanka, the HWC is much prevalent in the North-western Province where the project’s insurance pilots are to be held. During the period of the project, it is intended to pilot insurance schemes in two districts collaborating with private insurance companies. In Sri Lanka, the project is undertaken by the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) the premier economic think tank in partnership with the DWC.

The project will be seeking to communicate, share knowledge and disseminate information on the role of private insurance to manage biodiversity to a wide variety of audiences at different levels and in different locations: At the farmer household and community level in selected regions where HWC is severe, the project will be seeking to communicate awareness of private insurance as an effective solution to mitigate the loss and damage caused by the HWC – which undermines the potential worth of biodiversity. This project will be largely carried out by designing an effective and attractive insurance product/s and also by involving the collaboration of well recognised insurance companies with a strong rural presence, to advertise and implement the insurance scheme.

The second audience will be the insurance industry itself which will be engaged in shaping the insurance product, thereby it realises the potential new market being available from providing the HWC insurance. As such, it generates worth through actions of safeguarding, thus adding to the value of biodiversity.

The third audience will be the government policy makers, in particular the DWC in Sri Lanka. The project will seek to demonstrate to them the value of engaging with private insurance companies to reduce the HWC and thereby to increase the worth of biodiversity.

Internationally, the project will be engaging with experts and practitioners from the conservation community and the insurance industry to share and spread lessons to other countries enabling development of global best practices. In order to engage with these different audiences, the project will ensure regular communication throughout the project.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...