By Dipo Olowookere Not less than $1.5 million would be paid to vulnerable farmers as insurance under an innovative climate risk management scheme known as the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative (R4). The payment was triggered as a result of poor rainfall experienced lately in some parts of Africa, making it the largest insurance pay-out to date. Farmers participating in R4, launched by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Oxfam America in 2011, will be paid the amount to compensate for weather-related crop losses in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal and Zambia. The pay-out enables nearly 30,000 farming households to cover immediate needs including the purchase of food and payment of children\u2019s school fees. Many smallholders also invest a portion of the pay-out in seeds or fertilizers, or in starting small-scale family businesses. Insurance is a central component of R4, providing smallholders with protection against extreme weather shocks linked to climate change. Insurance payments are based on an index of rainfall, vegetation or yield estimates determining the extent of the loss incurred by participating farmers. Compensation is paid if the index falls below a pre-determined threshold \u2013 in this most recent instance, it was because of drought during the growing seasons in the five countries. \u201cIn Malawi, more than 7,000 drought-affected families will receive an insurance payment worth US$ 400,000. This is the first time that a weather index insurance programme has delivered payouts at such a large scale in Malawi, \u201csays Benoit Thiry, Country Director for WFP Malawi. \u201cInsurance is a key element which complements other initiatives being undertaken to make people more resilient to weather-related shocks.\u201d R4 combines four inter-linked elements: improved natural resource management (risk reduction), insurance (risk transfer), the promotion of investment including better access to micro-credit (prudent risk taking) and savings (risk reserves). The initiative reaches over 57,000 farmers in Africa who are vulnerable to climate risk. Since 2011, a total of more than $2.4 million have been distributed in pay-outs to R4 participants in Ethiopia, Senegal, Kenya, Zambia and Malawi as compensation for weather-related losses. The programme is supported by the governments of the United States, Switzerland, Flanders, the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of Korea, Canada and Sweden.