In 1984, there was a terrible drought in Kenya that led to very poor harvests that made life miserable for many farmers in the country.

Drought is a sad reality in many parts of Africa. Farmers may plant seeds and put in all the hard work, but if it doesn’t rain enough, they could lose all their investment of money, time and effort. And on a continent where most food is still grown by smallholder farmers, the risks of drought, unpredictable weather and very poor harvests are real and can be very devastating.

In this interesting TED Talk, you’ll learn how one lady has come up with a simple but highly effective solution to this perennial problem.

The solution is micro-insurance — at a vast, continental scale, and at a very low, affordable cost.

Rose Goslinga describes her work as “insuring the rain.” Raised in Tanzania, Goslinga was working for the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture in 2008 when the minister had a bold idea: could they offer insurance to small farmers to protect them in case rain didn’t come when needed?

Goslinga ran with the idea.

Under the Syngenta Foundation’s Kilimo Salama program, which is Swahili for “safe farming,” the thought became a reality. Last year, through its local insurance partners, it insured 185,000 farmers in Kenya and Rwanda against drought.

Think of micro-insurance the way you think of microloans. The average farmer insured in this way has a half-acre farm and pays just two Euros (about $2.24) as an annual premium; this is very much lower than standard insurance premiums anywhere!

Rather than using farm visits to determine damages, cloud data determines when payouts are due to farmers. Building this program has taken the Syngenta Foundation six years and has greatly tested their aptitude for creative problem-solving, from figuring out how to get farmers to trust insurance companies to creating technological solutions to help map which farmers are using the product.

It’s an amazing idea, and you should watch the video below to get the full picture!

Video credit: TED