The US government launched its Feed the Future initiative to help global hunger and food security initiatives, both in the United States and further afield.

Now, thanks in part to a 1.4 million USD grant from USAID’s Food Security Bureau, the University of California, Davis, are taking the initiative abroad to help those in Kenya.

The project will conduct research and development on policies and programs to help poor and smallholder farmers to manage risk, adopt productive technologies and take an active part in economic growth.

The focus of the team will be to use a randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the impacts of combining programs that offer training, support and aid with affordable insurance to reduce chronic poverty.

According to the Kenyan government, more that 1.3 million of their citizens have been experiencing the impact of ongoing drought, and are suffering in poor conditions.

Led by Michael Carter, a professor of agricultural and resource economics and director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Assets and Market Access at UC Davis, and Andrew Mude from the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya, researchers hope the project will create a pathway out of poverty and reduce the need for aid.

The project will test several interventions, including: the BOMA graduation program which teaches hard and soft skills, followed by how to start and run a business, and the HSNP transfer program is one of five cash-transfer programs under Kenya’s national Safety Nets Program.

An important element of the program is to ensure that the farmers are covered if their crops or livestock are damaged by natural disasters, such as drought, through index insurance.

Index insurance, a low-cost protection measure, is different to standard insurance because rather than basing payouts on verified losses, “it estimates losses based on an index of factors that can be measured and monitored externally, like rainfall or vegetation”.

According to UC Davis, Index insurance is already changing lives in Kenya and will trigger more than 2 million USD worth of payouts to farmers affected by drought.

Governments and organizations have faced many obstacles when it comes to resolving the world’s poverty and food crisis. Now experts believe they have found a way of helping farmers in Kenya solve food shortages in their communities and bring people together to combat poverty.

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