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Membership Based Indigenous Insurance Associations in Ethiopia and Tanzania
Indigenous insurance associations are a prevalent form of membership based organisations of the poor, at least in the rural areas in Ethiopia and Tanzania surveyed by the authors. Results show how villagers with few links to any formal kind of insurance market have established membership-based indigenous insurance associations to protect themselves against unexpected expenditures, mainly for funerals and hospitalisation. Many of these institutions tend to co-exist within the same community and are based on well-defined rules and regulations, well beyond informal reciprocal relations. They tend to offer premium-based insurance for funeral expenses, as well as, in many cases, other forms of insurance and credit to help address hardship.
These groups are completely owned and managed by their members. They were locally initiated and have been continually developing through the actions of their own members, without involvement from the government or donors. Using detailed group membership data linked to household survey data we show that (i) these institutions are widely prevalent in the surveyed areas, (ii) households typically belong to several groups at the same time, (iii) they display a large degree of inclusiveness and (iv) they insure an important part of some shocks, but still leave households prone to the effects of risk