Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Haiti launches microfinance catastrophe insurance program

Susana Ferreira in Reuters: When Hurricane Sandy struck Haiti late last year, the home Guerda Pierre shares with her three children and mother in Cabaret, north of Port-au-Prince, was flooded — and so was the merchandise she sold to make a living.

"The books, the food, everything was wet after Sandy," said Pierre. The plantain plants and beans in her garden were also destroyed. But unlike the majority of Haitians, Pierre had an insurance policy.

As a borrowing client at Fonkoze, a Haitian microcredit organization, she was automatically covered under its natural disaster insurance policy. Through MiCRO (Microinsurance Catastrophe Risk Organization), she had her existing debt wiped clean, a new credit account with Fonkoze instated for the same amount. And she received a payout of about $60 to help her get back on her feet quickly.

On Tuesday, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank, announced $1.7 million in funding, plus technical assistance, to support the program.

MiCRO, the first natural catastrophe insurance scheme of its kind in Haiti, was founded by Fonkoze, the international relief organization Mercy Corps and a number of other partners after a devastating earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. The program was rolled out officially in January 2011, and all of Fonkoze's microloan clients across the country were automatically insured — well in time for the hurricane season...

US Marine photo of aid to Port-au-Prince after 2010's Hurricane Tomas

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