Blue Marble

WFP Southern Africa

Venture Name: United Nations World Food Programme R4 Rural Resilience Initiative
Subtitle: Building climate resilience for African smallholder farmers
Case study date: September 2021
Location: Zimbabwe and Mozambique


Since 2018, Blue Marble has worked with United Nations World Food Programme R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4) to provide weather index insurance to vulnerable populations in Southern Africa. The initiative protects smallholder farmers against climate change by supporting their sustainable management of climate risks, thereby increasing food and income security.

Opportunity / Problem

Climate change has severely impacted Zimbabwe and Mozambique in recent years.  For example, El Niño events in the 2015/2016 and 2019/2020 seasons caused severe droughts that left approximately 10 million people food insecure.

Working in collaboration with R4 and the insurers Old Mutual and Holland Insurance, Blue Marble developed insurance solutions to address this problem and provide farmers with food and income security through\risk reduction, risk transfer, prudent risk-taking and building risk reserves.

Partners and their roles

To launch the program, Blue Marble co-developed a unique, shared-value ecosystem.

  • WFP (2020 Nobel peace prize winner) serves as the program coordinator
  • Blue Marble designed the weather index and provided a low-cost digital insurance platform
  • Old Mutual is the local insurer in Zimbabwe
  • Hollard Insurance is the local insurer in Mozambique
  • Our owner companies provide the reinsurance capacity


Blue Marble designed and delivered tailor-made, digitized weather index and area yield insurance for the most severe climate risks.

  • We co-designed the climate insurance products following customer-centric design principles: 1. Needs assessment from the population; 2. Creation of a prototype in response to needs identified; 3. Testing of the prototype with population; 4. Finalization product based on feedback; 5. Roll-out of product
  • We designed pioneering products in the region, including Weather Index and Area Yield Index Insurance products. We are focusing on protecting against drought, excess rainfall, river flood, drops in yield and cyclones
  • We digitized the value-chain, from the collection of data with mobile phones, parametric policy administration through to mobile money payouts
  • WFP includs “Smart Subsidy” to enable farmers to try the value-proposition before purchasing it. With Smart Subsidy, the farmer pays for the first season premium in-kind through labor spent building community assets part of the R4 program. From then on, farmers pay an increasing percentage of the premium until fully covering the cost themselves

Results / Impact

We are delivering a meaningful impact with consistent year-over- year growth in the number of farmers, sum-insured value and hectares protected.

  • 8,000 households covered by the end of 2021
  • 30,000 benefited individuals by the end of 2021
  • 62% of the protected population are women
  • USD $800,000 insured to date
  • USD $50,000 in payouts to date


“R4 has broken new ground in the field of climate risk management by enabling the poorest farmers to pay for crop insurance with their own labor.” World Food Programme.