Africa: AU Agency Unveils New Policies

The Africa Union insurance agency, African Risk Capacity (ARC), has rolled out country-specific products to cater for the needs of individual member states.

The products will cover tropical cyclones, disease outbreaks, epidemics and flooding, broadening the ARC scope from the traditional insurance against droughts.

ARC made the announcement at a workshop for the East and Southern Africa (ESA) in Zimbabwe, held on October 30 and 31.

Since 2014 32, policies have been signed by member states, with $73 million paid in premiums for a cumulative insurance coverage of $553 million for the protection of 55 million vulnerable individuals in participating countries.

The ESA region has recently borne the brunt of droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, disease outbreaks and epidemics, with the worst being Cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March.

The cyclone claimed at least 750 lives, and caused damage estimated at $9 billion in Mozambique alone.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has for more than one year been grappling with an Ebola epidemic, prompting fears of a possible spread to the neighbouring countries.

ARC is a specialised agency of the AU governed by and working with member states to improve their capacity to plan and respond to natural disasters and protect food security.

The agency was established by a treaty in 2012 to strengthen government-led disaster risk management and financing systems through enhancing capacity on early warning and risk quantification with the support of the UK, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, France, The Rockefeller Foundation and the US.

According to a report tabled early this year in Addis Ababa at the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, only eight of the 34 ARC founding members, with only Madagascar from the SADC and EAC blocs, have ratified the treaty and paid annual premiums, thus being eligible for compensation.

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