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Space technology provides Islamic insurance for herders

The son of a camel herder, Hassan Bashir knows how tough traditional life in Kenya’s arid north is, where pastoralists rely on livestock herds surviving boom and bust cycles of drought.



“I’ve come from the community, and I understand its needs,” said Bashir, a sharp-suited businessman respectfully greeting elders dressed in traditional flowing robes in his hometown of Wajir, where goats and donkeys wander the dusty streets.

Bashir is the founder of Africa’s first livestock insurance scheme to make payouts compliant with Islamic law, by bringing assembling Islam scholars and number-crunching agricultural experts using NASA weather satellites.

The 48 year-old man set up Takaful Insurance of Africa 3 years ago which, unlike ordinary insurance schemes prohibited by Islam, charges only a management fee from clients.

Payments are assessed not according to deaths of individual animals as it would be impossible to provide proof, but according to an index drawn up by experts at the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), using satellites to measure vegetation coverage and thus the severity of drought.


The company is named after the Islamic concept of takaful, in which risks are shared among the community, rather than insurance where policy holders effectively gamble risks against the company.

Any surplus money after payments are made is distributed equally to remaining policy holders.

Source: Times Live