Rural Resilience in Southern Africa / R4 Initiative

Progetto concluso

The project builds resilience of smallholder farmer households in three countries in Southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) by enabling their adaptation to climate risk through a community oriented and market based risk management comprehensive approach. The initiative combines improved resource management (risk reduction), insurance (risk transfer), livelihoods diversification and microcredit (prudent risk taking) and savings (risk reserves). The combined interventions are carefully adapted to each country context.

Paese/Regione Tema Periodo Budget
Comunità di sviluppo dell'Africa meridionale (SADC)
Agricoltura e sicurezza alimentare
Servizi agricoli & mercato
Servizi finanziari agricoli
01.07.2017 - 30.06.2021
CHF  12’350’000

The number of people living in extreme poverty in Southern Africa is expected to increase over the next 20 years. A large proportion of small scale farmers live on marginal lands characterized by low or erratic rainfall, fragile soils, poor market access and high susceptibility to frequent natural and man-made disasters. These shocks often compromise its ability to improve its well-being and also have long term consequences such as poverty and malnutrition. Gender inequality and high HIV/AIDS prevalence continue to be problematic issues in the region.

The R4 Initiative has initially been tested and rolled out in Malawi and Zambia, which presented different contexts - Malawi, prone to recurrent climatic shocks and high poverty rates, while Zambia was classified as a lower middle income country and better equipped to deal with food insecurity. The different country specific approaches has allowed comparing and learning on the impact of the two models. In the second phase, the R4 Initiative will significantly be scaled-up in Malawi and Zambia as well as implemented in Zimbabwe. The later faces similar climatic challenges and dire poverty and will benefit from the lessons learned so far. 


Building resilience of rural populations in selected countries of Southern Africa by enabling adaptation to climate risk of most vulnerable people through a community oriented risk management focused and market based approach.

Gruppi target

The primary beneficiaries supported by SDC funding consist of the 33’000 smallholder farmer households across Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe;

Other target groups include local government departments, local insurance companies and micro-finance companies.

The approaches used in the programme include both farmer households-based approach (activities on farmers’ fields) and community based approach (construction and rehabilitation of community assets such as dams, catchments, gully reclamation including tree planting, irrigation schemes rehabilitation, and feeder roads for ease to access markets) which complement each other.

Effetti a medio termine
  • Improved food security and resilience to weather-related shocks at households and community level;
  • Strengthened government and national capacities to establish, strengthen, manage, and deliver integrated risk management programs;
  • Refined model, replicated and scaled up in the Southern Africa region

Risultati principali attesi:  

  • A set of innovative, integrated, affordable and replicable tools to protect vulnerable farmers from the consequences of climate-related shocks are implemented and scaled up;
  • Risk transfer (insurance) products made available to households participating in existing disaster risk reduction related agriculture activities, savings and microfinance schemes;
  • Capacity of national and regional public and private institutions on risk management services is increased through specific training and support.

Risultati fasi precedenti:  

  • Farmers benefitting from the R4 Initiative are more performant than the ones who do not:  they have more livestock, are more productive and are able to save more; there has been an improvement in food security situation in the project areas compared to other areas.
  • The number of households insured against weather risk increased from 1000 in both countries to 2,446 in Malawi and 2,835 in Zambia from 2015 to 2017.
  • The promotion of more gender sensitive credit lending methodology favour women. While 43% of the farmers clubs’ executives are women, more than the half (56%) of saving groups members are women.
  • Zambia farmers who have benefitted from the R4 Initiative and who have used Conservation Agriculture techniques suffered less from the dry spells than the ones who have not.
  • In Malawi, an insurance pay-out to 500 farmers was triggered as a result of the El Nino-induced dry season experienced.

Direzione/Ufficio responsabile DSC
Credito Cooperazione allo sviluppo
Partner del progetto Partner contrattuale
Economia privata
Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite (ONU)
  • Settore privato straniero Sud/Est
  • World Food Programme

Coordinamento con altri progetti e attori

The programme promotes synergies with SDC funded projects on seed systems, vulnerability assessments, and humanitarian support in the region. Active partners in the programme include Swiss Re, Oxfam America, lRl/Columbia University, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Insurance regulatory authorities. The Public Private Development Partnership with the insurance companies and micro-insurance companies will be strengthened. 

Budget Fase in corso Budget Svizzera CHF    12’350’000 Budget svizzero attualmente già speso CHF    12’080’674
Fasi del progetto Fase 3 01.07.2021 - 30.06.2025   (Fase in corso)

Fase 2 01.07.2017 - 30.06.2021   (Completed)

Fase 1 01.01.2011 - 30.06.2017   (Completed)