Sowing Seeds of Resilience: Joint Oxfam-WFP Initiative Responds to Threats of Climate Change

  • Emma Schwartz
  • June 24, 2015
Sowing Seeds of Resilience
Photo: Women build stonebunds to protect ricefields from sand in Senegal. Azzurra Massimino / WFP.

There are 805 million hungry people in the world. The large majorities live in rural villages of Asia and Africa and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods living in degraded, fragile, and shock-prone environments, with an alarming low asset-base. Erratic and increasingly intense climate and weather shocks are a constant threat for this population, putting their food security and wellbeing at major risk.

In 2011, Oxfam America (OA) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) launched the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) to build rural resilience against escalating climate-related threats. The joint initiative seeks to empower rural households most vulnerable to climate variability in Ethiopia, Senegal, Malawi and Zambia through a risk management-focused and market-based approach.

The R4 partnership builds upon the success of the Horn of Africa Risk Transfer for Adaptation (HARITA) program, initiated by Oxfam America, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), Ethiopian farmers, Swiss Re and several other local and global partners

R4 is unique in developing a holistic risk management framework that helps farmers and communities manage risk using four strategies: improved resource management (risk reduction), insurance (risk transfer), microcredit (prudent risk taking), and savings (risk reserves). The aim is to give farmers and rural communities in developing countries the resources they need to be self-reliant and manage their own weather vulnerability through an affordable, comprehensive risk management program.

This year, R4 plans to reach approximately 25,000 farmers in Ethiopia and 12,000 in Senegal, and will launch implementation in Malawi and Zambia.  

From January to March, approximately 25% of target participants in Ethiopia registered for crop insurance. In Senegal, a gender analysis was conducted to understand the influence of gender dynamics on community resilience. R4 also began local level planning in Malawi and Zambia and designed the weather-index insurance product; implementation in these two countries is slated to being in the second quarter of 2015.

More details on key R4 activities and accomplishments for this period can be found in the most recent quarterly report. View the report here.

To learn more about the Rural Resilience Initiative, visit, or watch the video.

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