Flood insurance can help the helpless: Roundtable

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Discussants at the roundtable on the possibility of insurance to cover flood risks. Prothom Alo organised the roundtable in association with Oxfam Bangladesh and Australian Aid.Flood insurance can offer assistance to the marginalised people to overcome risks when there is no opportunity to work during the calamity.

Addresing a Prothom Alo roundtable on Sunday, the stakeholders also urged the government, insurance companies and other parties to introduce the flood insurance system in a country where flooding often hampers the people's livehoods.

Call for a combined initiative from different government agencies to make flood insurance a succcess, came from the roundtable on the possibility of insurance to cover flood risks. Prothom Alo organised the roundtable in association with Oxfam Bangladesh and Australian Aid.

"It's not possible to institutionalise insurance only by building awareness. There must be some compulsion," said Satya Brata Saha, additional secretary at the disaster management and relief ministry.

He felt that the nation has to think if insurance should be made mandatory.

The official, however, observed that there are certain complexities relating to flood insurance as to who would give the premium - land owners or the contract farmers.

Referring to beneficiaries of a pilot project on flood insurance, Oxfam Bangladesh programme director MB Akhter said the people are ready to give 50 per cent of the premium if there is any flood insurance system.

Oxfam has piloted the project in Sirajganj where, Akhter said, they got "a very good response". Oxfam gave premium on behalf of the people there.

Lovely Begum, one of beneficiaryies of the project, said she was given compensation amounting to Tk 2,800. "The money helped me to repair house and repay some loans I took during the flood," he added.

She, however, pointed out that she got the money four to five months after the flood whereas they needed it immediately after the flood.

Another beneficiary, Aminur Rahman, said he received Tk 4,400 with which he repaid the money he had to borrow in absence of working opportunity during the flood.

Manik Chandra Dey, an additional secretary of the finance ministry’s bank and financial institutions division, said pubic perception about insurance has improved in recent years.

He informed the roundtable that state-owned General Insurance Corporation is implementing a pilot insurance scheme based on weather index. It is planning to introduce a cattle insurance scheme as well.

“The poor people might not want to give premium for insurance. We need to see if we can do something about this,” he said.

Dhaka University's disaster management teacher Gowher Naim Wara said it is important to see whether people are getting insurance pay-out timely or not.

He proposed that the money that is given to the people as relief may be used as premium for insuranceit.

Pragati Insurance Limited managing director and CEO Rezaul Karim said they have worked with Oxfam on flood insurance scheme and gave 165 per cent pay-out in 2015 and 95 per cent pay-out in 2014.

A senior consultant of Green Delta Insurance ASA Muiz said there should be collective efforts to introduce flood insurance. He emphasised the need for outlining clear policy on who would pay the premium as the poor do not afford to pay it.

Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority member M Mosharraf Hossain, General Insurance Corporation senior general manager J Bikash Chakma, Institute of Water Modelling executive director M Monwar Hossain, Manab Mukti Songstha convenor Monira Sultana, and Oxfam economic justice and resilience programme manager Khalid Hossain spoke at the roundtable moderated by Prothom Alo associate editor Abdul Quayum and Oxfam Bangladesh policy, advocacy, campaign and communications manager MM Manzur Rashid.

Editor & publisher: Matiur Rahman.
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