By Alex Russell on November 25, 2019
"The game is simple. On a brown digital grassland with a single tree, tiny goats mill back and forth. When you decide how many of those goats to buy or sell and how many to insure, clouds float across the screen and one of two things happens: the clouds stop and rain falls, roughly doubling the goats and producing milk for sale, or the clouds move steadily across the screen and half your herd is wiped out.
The game is SimPastoralist, and it’s part of a MRR [Markets, Risk and Resilience] Innovation Lab project in northern Kenya that pairs a poverty graduation program for women and low-cost livestock insurance to promote resilience. The game gives pastoralist families who face a constant threat of devastating drought the experience of trying livestock insurance across many seasons. Also, data collected during the game is providing insights on how to design insurance that responds better to women’s needs.
'Women have a direct stake in what happens with the family’s livestock, but men typically have control of the herd,' said Michael Carter, director of the MRR Innovation Lab and the project’s leader. 'If we make insurance more responsive to women, we can expand the support it provides to the family as a whole.'"