2012 Tutu Fellow Dr. Andrew Mude has won the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application. He and his team are also receiving a USAID award for scientific excellence. The recognition is for their work developing the innovative use of satellite technology and community outreach to develop livestock insurance for vulnerable herding communities in the Horn of Africa. The program uses satellite data to help protect livestock herding communities in the Horn from the devastating effects of drought.
The program uses satellite data gathered every ten days by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The data is processed by NASA to create a ‘vegetation index’ that allows Mude and his colleagues to track the density of vegetation available to pastoralists in the region. Payouts are made to policy holders when the index shows that forage availability has declined below an agreed threshold. When rains fail, drought is responsible for 75% of livestock deaths in the region.
Before the innovative Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) approach was implemented, African herders had no access to livestock insurance to protect their stock. Losses could be catastrophic and lead to a lifetime of poverty. Insurance claim adjusters found it impractical to travel across the large grazing areas to confirm dead animals and pay claims. The satellite data measurement of forage serves as a proxy for conditions on the ground that imperil livestock. The project was started in one county in Kenya and has since expanded across Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia, covering more than 15,000 herders in those two countries.
Additionally, governments are adopting the model for related projects and the IBLI team is providing assistance to help make this a pillar of food security in partnership with the World Food Programme.
More can be read on the program and Mude's award at the website for The World Food Prize.