Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) in Kenya and Sri Lanka
IIED is working to facilitate private markets to insure small-scale women and men farmers for damage caused by human-wildlife conflict, primarily from elephants. This will provide support for insurance in two countries, Kenya and Sri Lanka.
Chief economist, Shaping Sustainable Markets
Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) imposes major economic and human costs on poor women and men farmers in many parts of the world, particularly around protected areas.
Elephants are a major source of HWC in both Africa and Asia. They trample or eat crops, damage property, and sometime cause human injury or even death. In many cases this leads to killing of wildlife by local people, either directly in defence or from revenge, or through their support for illegal killing by external poachers.
Globally, many different interventions have been tried to reduce HWC, including physical and financial measures, but these have had limited success.
This project is intended to help the governments of Kenya and Sri Lanka to pilot new insurance schemes, learn from one other, and develop an effective national approach to tackle HWC.
What is IIED doing?
The project will work to reduce HWC, which has been a direct outcome of expansion of human activities into wildlife habitats through encroachments into elephant habitat space and migration routes.
It is expected that the project will reduce losses and damage due to human elephant conflict in Kenya and Sri Lanka for insured male and female farmers covered by insurance by the end of the project from an established baseline. And it is estimated that by the end of the project, government data will demonstrate that the introduction of private insurance will have reduced elephant fatalities by human elephant conflict in Kenya and in Sri Lanka.
IIED will provide overall technical oversight and coordinate the project, manage partner contracts and provide donor reporting to the Uk government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The institute will lead on the global review of existing insurance schemes at the start of the project and lessons learned from the two countries at the end of the project – linking national level institutions in Kenya and Sri Lanka with global experts and practitioners.
Our partner, the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), will lead the fieldwork in Sri Lanka, while AB Consultants will lead on the design of the insurance scheme in Kenya. Overall, these organisations will provide more detailed support to national implementation led by government and private insurance companies in Kenya and Sri Lanka.
In May 2019, more than 150 practitioners drawn from government, private insurance and non-governmental organisations attended a consultative forum on Innovative Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) compensation schemes in Nairobi, Kenya. In this video five key participants give their views on insurance for human wildlife conflict.
For World Elephant Day in August 2021, IIED chief economist Paul Steele made a presentation for the Sabah Biodiversity Conservation Association (Seratu Aatai) which is conducting a LIFE project in Sabah Malaysia funded by the Global Environment Facility for US$42,800.
The project in Malaysia is a partnership between Seretu Aatai with a Malaysia insurance broker Actuarial Partners Consulting with technical support provided by IIED. The Malaysian LIFE project is learning and building on experience from Kenya and Sri Lanka through this project.
In 2022, two videos were produced showing how private insurance can help cover the cost of farmers' losses, while allowing elephants and other animals to seek what they need to survive. The first, 'Conservation of wildlife: how can insurance help?' – available below and on IIED's YouTube channel – made the case to conservation audiences.
The second video focused on the insurance industry, highlighting the new customers and detailed data available to companies looking to find new markets. This can be viewed below and on IIED's YouTube channel.
In February 2023, the Kenyan government announced it would trial an insurance scheme that will compensate farmers. The decision by the government to finance the premiums on pilots on human-wildlife conflict insurance was taken as part of President William Ruto’s first budget.
The news was welcomed by IED chief economist Paul Steele: "Ownership and leadership from the government of Kenya has been built into this project from the start, and we welcome them taking this work into the next stage of implementation."
The following month Steele attended the International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence in Oxford, when Kenya’s wildlife principal secretary Silvia Museiya and Barbara Chesire, managing director of AB Consultants, were interviewed about the developments and their implications.
News and updates
Private insurance policies launched to protect elephants in Kenya and Sri Lanka
Press release, 06 October 2022
Situational Analysis Report (Sri Lanka): Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) in Kenya and Sri Lanka
Publication, 01 July 2019
Literature Review (Sri Lanka): Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) in Kenya and Sri Lanka
Publication, 01 June 2019
Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) in Kenya and Sri Lanka Annual Report
Publication, 01 June 2019
Situational Analysis Report (Kenya): Livelihoods Insurance from Elephants (LIFE) in Kenya and Sri Lanka
Publication, 01 June 2019
Human–wildlife conflict and insurance. Can insurance reduce the costs of living with wildlife?
Publication, 01 March 2019
Video: Insurance and human-wildlife conflict: in conversation with Silvia Museiya, International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence (May 2023)
Video: Insurance and human-wildlife conflict: in conversation with Barbara Chesire, International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence (May 2023)
Video: Insurance for human-wildlife conflict: a new approach (November 2022)
Video: Conservation of wildlife: how can insurance help? (July 2022)
Video interviews: five participants at a consultative forum on Innovative Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) compensation schemes in Nairobi, Kenya give their views on insurance for human wildlife conflict (2019)
Video interview: Chandana Sooriyabandara, director general of Sri Lanka's Department of Wildlife Conservation, and IIED's chief economist Paul Steele discuss how livelihood insurance can provide a solution to human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka (2018)
Video interview: Dr Sumith Pilapitiya, former Director General of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, and IIED's chief economist Paul Steele discuss the gravity of human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka, and possible solutions (2018)