Strengthening the financial resilience of small-scale fishers in the Philippines  

The ecologically rich coastal waters around the Philippines contain almost 10% of the world’s coral reefs and provide income and sustenance for 1.4 million small-scale fishers, their families, and millions more Filipino people whose wellbeing is inextricably linked to the health of the sea. But chronic overfishing, degraded habitats, and a lack of capacity to manage their fisheries is undermining sustainability and the resilience of these communities.

One of the major barriers to combating these problems is the absence of formal financial services. Strengthening financial resilience can both decrease the need to overfish and increase the adaptive capacity of communities and resilience of the local economy – leading to healthier fisheries, more climate resilient ecosystems, and families better positioned to prepare for, and recover from, storms and other climate-related weather events.

This project builds on the Fish Forever initiative of ORRAA member Rare, which has been developing community savings clubs to bolster the financial security of coastal fishing communities. ORRAA is taking this work to the next level by testing the ability for these savings clubs to serve as a platform for access to financial services, such as insurance products, to enhance livelihoods and build pathways to recovery after economic shocks.

The project has four components: 1) assessing the unique insurance needs of fishing dependent households and the landscape of existing products; 2) tailoring insurance products to meet these needs and developing product prototypes; 3) testing coverage using a payment and distribution system that leverages savings clubs as a delivery platform; and 4) developing a scaling strategy to support vulnerable small-scale fishers in other countries and regions once the Philippines pilot is complete.