The rain, the return, and the credit. Turning climate change into an insurable risk in Senegal
Sara Angeli Aguiton (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales)
Paper short abstract:
Climate insurance market based on parametric technologies to measure "rainfall deficit" is emerging in Senegal. This paper empirically studies this "insurance-craft" and look at the simultaneous production of a market infrastructure, an insurable risk and a population of insurable farmers.
Paper long abstract:
Climate insurance market based on parametric technologies to measure "rainfall deficit" is emerging in Senegal. Articulating insights from STS, sociology of risks and critical sociology of development, I study in an empirical fashion this "insurance-craft" for climate risk, by which I mean the simultaneous production of a market infrastructure, an insurable risk and a population of insurable farmers. Parametric insurance for agriculture is a tool designed by international development experts to implement climate change adaptation policies in the Global South. Following the activities of development agencies, insurance company and brokers, climate and agronomy experts, local resellers and farmers' organizations, I show how the construction of this insurance market is rooted the economy of international development. The Senegalese public-private insurance apparatus is structured by development banks, in particular the World Bank and the USAID which sustain it through their funding and expectations. Development agencies also supported the rooting of a meteorological infrastructure in strategic sites over the country, and a network of rain gauges was established to produce the meteorological data needed by the parametric insurance scheme. Farmers' organizations were co-opted to resell the insurance product, and an intensive social engineering is locally conducted to turn farmers into policy holders. But even with such efforts, the insurance apparatus would not work if it wasn't through the political infrastructure of development projects. Climate insurance for agriculture in Senegal is both "in the making" and "in the failing", and perpetuate the historical modes of governing of development aid around new objects and problems.
Infrastructures of the Anthropocene