SLYCAN Trust – Inclusive risk transfer mechanisms and Sri Lanka’s agricultural sector: Stakeholder engagement, research, and knowledge product development

As part of a global project on multi-actor partnerships (MAPS) on Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance (CDRFI) in the context of the InsuResilience Global Partnership, SLYCAN Trust has been implementing activities related to Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, climate risk, and risk transfer mechanisms. This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented in a number of countries world-wide between 2020 and 2022.

Under this project, SLYCAN Trust primarily focuses on Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector including livestock and inland fisheries in the districts of Trincomalee and Anuradhapura. Some of the key project activities include:

  • Conducting national- and local-level stakeholder meetings, thematic workshops, expert consultations, community meetings, and capacity-building workshops;
  • Conducting research to better understand climate and disaster risk to Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, connections between key stakeholders, and entry points for improving CDRFI mechanisms;
  • Developing information and knowledge products on CDRFI, national and global policy processes, key stakeholders, climate change impacts and vulnerabilities in Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector, gender, vulnerable communities, and innovative finance mechanisms;
  • Contributing to a civil society-oriented CDRFI toolkit.

As for many other projects focusing on climate change related impacts, the MAPs project has also faced challenges to the timely implementation of the project activities due to impacts of Covid-19. Despite a reduction in the number of activities, SLYCAN Trust continued its project activities by adapting to the Covid-19 related health guidelines and restrictions and moving work onto a virtual platform wherever possible.


Stakeholder Engagement and Capacity-Building in the Context of Covid-19

One of the key activities and objectives for SLYCAN Trust during the course of the project is to build partnerships as well as capacities and raise awareness of all stakeholders involved. Some of the stakeholder engagement activities carried out so far included national stakeholder workshops on climate and disaster risk transfer relating to finance, civil society organisation, climate risks and hazards, and national policies and processes. Most notably, SLYCAN Trust received media attention for a national stakeholder workshop conducted in collaboration with the Sri Lanka’s Banks’ Association’s  Sustainable Banking Initiative on identifying and addressing gaps and constraints related to climate and disaster risk transfer and finance in Sri Lanka.

While these activities and events were already mapped out in the project outline, they became challenging to implement as a result of the pandemic. For large parts of 2020, SLYCAN Trust has been successful in hosting almost an equal number of events virtually and in-person that proved beneficial to gather further information and data, supplement ongoing research activities, build capacities of stakeholders, and create networking opportunities.

Moreover, the project is also aimed at building capacities of the project team. In this light, the SLYCAN Trust conducted two training of trainers on climate risk management and Sri Lanka’s agriculture, fisheries, and plantation sectors. In addition to these activities, SLYCAN Trust focused further on capacity-building of the team to ensure their effective engagement in activities related to the MAPs project and themes of climate and disaster risk transfer finance, by conducting internal training sessions with technical experts of the project and organisation, online courses focusing on the thematic areas, as well as webinars.


Research and Analysis

Research and analysis form another of the main components of the project, with the goal of collecting evidence on gaps, needs and challenges regarding crop insurance in Sri Lanka and developing a comprehensive CDRFI toolkit that is inclusive and participatory. As a first step, the research analysed existing climate risk transfer and climate insurance mechanisms, methods and actions to better engage key stakeholders for enhancing participatory risk transfer mechanisms, as well as avenues and options to strengthen or improve existing schemes.

Desk research activities formed part of the activities for the project during the imposed quarantine lockdown period. Once the country opened up for inter-province travel, the team conducted the first on-the-ground research in the district of Trincomalee followed by data collection in Anuradhapura district. The implementation of activities was made easier due to the fact that there is an established field office in Trincomalee and team members based in both districts. The team members based in both districts were able to lead activities at the district level prior and arrange meetings and other appointments prior to the research team joining from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, for the work at the field level.

Some of the data gathered through baseline research included approximate income and expenditure of farmer families, details of their farmland, farming practices, irrigation, land ownerships, and crops, their overall knowledge on climate change, risk management, and risk transfer, their financial literacy and inclusion, and their knowledge on adaptive and climate-resilient farming practices and coping strategies.

Based on the data gathered from almost 400 farmers, women, and youth from farming communities through farmer group meetings, farmer and youth workshops, and individual in-depth interviews, the team made significant progress on a few research products including a cultivation map, agriculture spending, money sources and financial flow analysis, supply and value chain analysis, and two detailed districts reports. The active participation and engagement of women and youth was especially helpful in including diverse viewpoints and voices toward a holistic understanding of the agriculture and village systems.

The research products also include a comprehensive stakeholder map as well as the laws, policies, and plans related to CDRFI, the regulatory environment, links to other processes including the Nationally Determined Contributions and the Sustainable Development Goals, and further analysis of the survey results and input from the field workshops.


Knowledge Management and Knowledge Product Development

Since the start of the project period, the team at SLYCAN Trust has worked on creating knowledge products and blog posts on topics related to climate risk and risk management in Sri Lanka’s agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sector. The following lists some of these publications:

In addition to blog posts, articles, and detailed stakeholder consultation and national workshop reports, during the second quarantine-curfew imposed on the country, the team at SLYCAN Trust focused more on development of the in-depth research products as well as further analysis of the input received so far. Further social media outreach, disseminating thematic information, and a number of video clips are also part of the overall output.


Next Steps

While the pandemic has greatly transformed the way in which SLYCAN Trust could conduct its activities and gather data, it has also brought in a new, completely unforeseen element of risk management that nevertheless connects to existing climate and market risk management and transfer.

At present, the project team is brainstorming on the most effective ways to complete the next set of proposed activities and ensure a productive output from stakeholder engagement, research, and knowledge content development. Upcoming activities include expert consultations with different stakeholder groups, further finance and insurance workshops in cooperation with the Sustainable Banking Initiative, and two national thematic dialogues, as well as sustained engagement with farming communities in the selected districts.