ILRI using satellite imagery to protect and insure livestock in East Africa

ILRI using satellite imagery to protect and insure livestock in East Africa

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Kenya and Ethiopia, has created an innovative insurance product to protect livestock keepers from drought related asset losses insurance, as part of a coping and adaptation strategy.

According to the research institute, ILRI has been working on making a commercially viable product, in response to and informed market demand. It plans to extend its reach to vulnerable populations in more volatile markets.


In addition, it focuses on providing “additional mechanisms by which pastoralists are better prepared against climate risks,” to become financially independent and self-sufficient.

Using open satellite data, Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) is used by
the government and private sector to monitor drought that affects livestock keepers/pastoralist.

Satellite based information on crop status (NDVI) is used to assess the availability of fodder crops in dry areas of Eastern Africa for livestock farmers.

The IBLI project was announced in northern Kenya’s arid Marsabit District by ILRI, in partnership with Equity Bank and African insurance provider UAP Insurance Ltd.

This livestock insurance service is initiated by a consortium of public, private and non-profit partners. A comprehensive research agenda aims to design, develop and implement this market mediated index-based insurance.

According to ILRI, the Marsabit District— ”where there are around 86,000 cattle and two million sheep and goat populations, valued at $67 million for milk and other products, are rarely slaughtered—the program would be offered to millions of semi-nomadic pastoralists and livestock keepers in other parts of the east African region.”

Equity Bank Managing Director James Mwangi says the insurance policies provide a drought risk reduction for Kenya’s pastoral families in the region. The risk of drought is “the biggest threat to their cherished herds of cattle, sheep, goats, and camels—from devastating lives and livelihoods.”

Mwangi says, “livestock is the key asset for families in this region and securing this asset is critical to their ability to obtain credit and investments that can allow them to grow and prosper.”



  1. The Story of Index Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI). 2015.
  2. The Story of Index Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI). 2015.
  3. ILRI, Equity Bank and UAP Insurance launch first-ever project to insure cows, camels and goats in Kenya’s arid north