In 2023, Blue Marble partnered with the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center (Arsht-Rock) and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) to provide cover against the impacts of extreme heat on the health and working conditions of women in India’s informal sector. With financial support from Arsht-Rock, Blue Marble led the product design, with valuable inputs from and collaboration with Arsht-Rock’s team of health and extreme heat experts, to create a truly first-of-its-kind product . Following its launch in May 2023, over 21,000 women in the state of Gujarat participated in the program’s pilot, with future plans to expand the cover to SEWA’s 2.5 million members across India.
Arsht-Rock is driven to action by the critical need to address the widespread and intensifying consequences of climate change and related risks — threatening communities, natural ecosystems, economic development, and political stability. Through their work, Arsht-Rock pledges to reach one billion people around the world with resilience solutions to climate change by 2030.
In India, Arsht-Rock has partnered with the SEWA, a 50-year-old trade union with 2.5 million women members, to co-create solutions that help them adapt to and survive life and work in extreme heat conditions and improve their livelihoods. SEWA’s members, across 18
Indian states participate in a sophisticated set of programs and services that include the practice of financial savings, establishing individual bank accounts and accessing credit through SEWA’s own cooperative bank (founded in 1974), and securing childcare and access to health care.
Climate-driven extreme heat is a silent killer-taking more lives than any other climate-driven weather event and causing significant suffering and income loss across the globe. As a result, low-income women, especially those that work outdoors, are bearing the brunt of the impacts of climate-driven extreme heat. SEWA’s members, the majority of whom work outdoors in direct exposure to the extreme heat, face unsafe working conditions that can lead to preventable suffering, such as rashes, burns and chronic heart and kidney disease. In an effort to help SEWA’s members have healthier lives, Blue Marble, in partnership with Arsht-Rock, and SEWA, sought to design a solution that incentivizes women to seek shelter during the hottest days and reimburses women for lost wages.
Working together with Arsht-Rock’s extreme heat and health risk experts and SEWA’s leadership, in an unprecedentedly swift timeline of 90 days, Blue Marble designed an insurance solution to replace women’s lost wages during the hottest months. This parametric insurance is activated once specific extreme heat conditions that could endanger health – such as daily maximum temperatures – are met. The premiums for this pilot season are funded by Arsht-Rock, and the product is designed to pay out multiple times in one heat season to replace lost income (around $3 per day). Alongside this, additional funding from Arsht-Rock provides tools and resources (such as shade tents, clean water and coolers) to help create a safer work environment.
During the 2023 heatwave season, Blue Marble launched the insurance program and provided coverage for over 21,000 SEWA members across the state of Gujarat, India. During this initial pilot, women from 7 different occupations, such as waste pickers, salt pan workers, street vendors, and home-based workers, participated in the program. Although the 2023 heat season proved to be mild and no triggering events took place, women greatly appreciated the heat safety tools and education provided to them. Women’s increased awareness of the health risks associated with extreme heat and financial incentives, such as insurance, to prevent their exposure on the most dangerous days is a critical component of building a more heat-resilient future for the world’s most vulnerable populations. We are working to distil the lessons learned from the pilot, and plan to make adjustments in line with the learnings to scale-up sustainably the product.
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