An Instrument for Social Protection and Climate Change Adaptation? The Politics of Implementing Agricultural Microinsurance in Bolivia

In the last few years, the first microinsurance schemes for low-income peasants were introduced in Bolivia. Parts of the rural population have been able to insure crops like maize, potatoes or grapes. In Bolivia, as in other countries, a large range of actors participates in the promotion of microinsurance, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), insurance and reinsurance firms, bilateral and multilateral public donors, and private donors. These actors see agricultural microinsurance and insurance as a mechanism that helps to deal with the implications of climate change and improves the social protection of the rural population, among other objectives. This paper explores the politics that are part of the creation and implementation of two agricultural microinsurance schemes in Tarija, a department in the south of Bolivia. It looks at the unfolding negotiations and contestations among public and private actors that participate in the creation and implementation process. These actors have diverging interests, norms and resources, and their relationships are marked by asymmetric power relations.