Using Games to Educate Farmers on Microinsurance

Sarah Favrichon, Head of Climate Risk Insurance Component, GIZ PrAda and Jennifer Henderson, Viamo

Climate change has been a growing challenge in Madagascar, with smallholder farmers being particularly affected by increasingly frequent climate shocks. Mandated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and co-funded by the European Union, GIZ has launched project “Adaptation of agricultural value chains to climate change” (PrAda) to help address this issue. One of their initiatives is launching a climate risk microinsurance product for these farmers in cooperation with the InsuResilience Global Partnership. However, most Malagasy smallholder farmers have very limited knowledge about insurance. Therefore, Viamo and our gamification partner, Peripheral Vision International (PVI), developed together with GIZ an interactive mobile audio game to educate farmers on the concepts of microinsurance and climate change, and to boost uptake of the microinsurance product.

The game was officially launched nationwide by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture in Madagascar in September 2018 on our existing 3-2-1 Service with Airtel Madagascar. Already more than 100,000 3-2-1 callers have played the game until the end, and around 50% have expressed interest in being contacted as soon as the new insurance launches. 3-2-1 callers who have accessed the audio game have listened to twice as many key messages per month on average, compared to listeners who have not played the game yet. Clearly, games are an effective content style to maintain listener interest.  

The content for the audio game was developed through field research and human-centered design, to ensure that it is actionable, culturally relevant and entertaining. In the resulting gameplay, players walk through seven cropping seasons in a series of listen-then-make a choice steps. In each season, the virtual farmers attend an annual agriculture fair, where the learning and decision-making are framed within conversational dialogue between peers and friends. Good choices are rewarded with a growing number of Zebus, Malagasy cows, rather than points or money, as it is a more culturally relevant form of game currency.

Given the complexity of climate risk insurances, the game focuses first on climate change and how smallholders can react, with the concept of microinsurance only very gradually introduced. At the end of the game, players indicate if they want to be contacted to sign up for the climate risk microinsurance. Once the insurance product is developed and launched, we will already have a list of leads with demographic information. This information will then serve to segment the farmers and help the insurance company to prioritize their outreach. In this way, gamified content on mobile not only increases engagement, but also helps generate quality leads!

Moving forward, we are continuing to A/B test different ways to develop the game further. We will re-design it once the microinsurance becomes available for farmers, to incorporate information about how the specific insurance product works. Due to the success of the educational game so far, GIZ is already working with us to develop a similar solution in Zambia. We look forward to sharing conversion rates in the coming months, once the microinsurance product launches.

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