Swiss Re supports flood insurance for river basin residents in Bangladesh

A new program will provide financial assistance for people in the Sirajganj district when the waters rise, another example of the power of public-private partnerships.

The first insurance scheme protecting low income households against the financial impacts of flood has been launched in Bangladesh. Covering 1660 families from 14 villages located in the Char areas of Sirajganj district, the families will receive a swift emergency payout if they are struck by floods. The pilot programme will provide cash relief of up to approximately USD 100 per household. Mobile money transfer will be introduced, to allow beneficiaries even faster access to the relief money.

Partnering to protect against floods

Bangladesh is a flood-prone country and suffers from large-scale flooding periodically, which is one the primary reasons for widespread poverty. Over the last decades, the Bangladesh government, together with international agencies and local partners, has been working on building structural solutions to counter the losses caused by floods, as well as finding protection for residents of the river basin against catastrophic floods.

The programme "Index-based Flood Insurance Product Piloting in Sirajgonj, Bangladesh" was initiated by Oxfam and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Swiss Re has been working with CIRM Advisory Services (India), Institute of Water Modeling (Bangladesh), Pragati Insurance Ltd (Bangladesh), Manab Mukti Sangstha (Bangladesh) and Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (Bangladesh) in the joint implementation of the project.

Supporting local insurance

"Floodwater that used to create fertile ground for agriculture crops is now causing catastrophic consequences in Bangladesh. Through this flood index insurance scheme, Swiss Re supports the local insurance sector with product structuring, pricing and underwriting, as well as reinsuring the risks. The insurance scheme will help to mitigate the fiscal impact of the flooding to the villages, and strengthen the resilience of the economy," said Harini Kannan, Head of Agriculture Reinsurance South West Asia from Swiss Re, the reinsurance partner for this project.

Mario Wilhelm of Swiss Re Global Partnerships said, "Swiss Re is delighted to be working with the Bangladesh government and related stakeholders on this important project, to protect poor and vulnerable people in the areas of Sirajganj district from the devastating floods that regularly strike the region. The project forms part of our broader effort to work with public sector partners in the joint development of sustainable risk transfer solutions."