In early 2015, Assistant Professor Alex Wong and PhD student Haftom Bayray Kahsay, a teacher-student partnership from the Department of Economics, initiated a challenging project to alleviate poverty among North Ethiopian farmers. With an impressive research proposal, they were awarded a €300,000-Euro research grant by WOTRO Science for Global Development under the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) to conduct a two-year study on “The Cost Effectiveness of Integrating Weather Index Agricultural Insurance into the Productive Safety Net Program in Ethiopia”.
“We were very happy to have received the prestigious grant. Among the seven awardees, Lingnan was the only university in Asia whose research proposal was funded. The other six came from the Netherlands, UK and Switzerland,” said Prof Wong. During the two-year research studies, the Lingnan partnership leads a consortium of research units including Wageningen University, Mekelle University, Columbia University, The Relief Society of Tigray and Nyala Insurance to provide policy recommendations on the use of agricultural weather insurance as an additional component in Ethiopia’s safety net programme. Following the first site visit to 32 rural villages conducted by Mekelle University, the Relief Society of Tigray and Nyala Insurance in late August and September 2015, Lingnan and Columbia University analysed the data collected and started the first-round development of the weather index insurance product. The team then conducted a large-scale survey at both household and village levels to collect baseline information before their experimental intervention in April 2016. Their plan is to provide insurance product in April and evaluate its effectiveness in June, the sowing month, and October, the harvest month.