Improving the resilience of coastal fishing communities through financial inclusion

There are approximately 50 million small-scale fishers worldwide, and more than 250 million people employed across the small-scale fisheries value chain.  Yet the vast majority of workers in this significant sector of the blue economy currently lack the financial literacy or access to basic insurance that can provide them with a crucial safety net against increasingly frequent storms or other unexpected events.

In the Philippines alone, 1.4 million small-scale fishers, their families and millions more Filipino people rely on the fisheries sector for income and sustenance. But the lack of digital infrastructure and limited access to formal financial services is holding back the economic inclusion and resilience of these remote communities, while increasing the need to overfish to recover from shocks.

After assessing the unique insurance needs of fishing-dependent households and the landscape of available products in seven different coastal communities across the Philippines, ORRAA member Rare partnered with local providers to offer two insurance policies providing life, accident property damage and healthcare cover.

The project enrolled over 4,000 members in basic livelihood insurance– far exceeding the pilot’s aim of 500. Rare also successfully delivered insurance literacy trainings to over 2,760 participants – using remote learning platforms and a combination of virtual and in-person training. Over half of subscribers are women working in fisheries, whose earnings are dependent on unpredictable harvests and inconsistent market prices, making insurance an important tool to secure their income and wellbeing. Rare estimates that the livelihood protection offered by the insurance program will benefit some 12,500 fisheries-dependent people in the Philippines.

The focus is now on incorporating the lessons learned from this pilot, and to replicate and scale its approach across The Philippines and in seven other countries where Rare’s Fish Forever program currently works with over 1000 communities. This project highlights the success of a community-based and gender-sensitive strategy in providing a vital financial safety net to remote communities. It also showcases the potential of financial literacy and tailored insurance in advancing the economic inclusion and resilience of millions of people, who make up a vast and sustainable sector of the global economy but are uniquely vulnerable to the changes in our ocean and climate.