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Thousands of people living in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta can now have affordable vaccinations, childbirth care, and a range of operations. In return, they pay a subsidised annual premium of $25, a fraction of the usual cost of treatment. Women in the Niger Delta, for example, can pay $300-350 for hospital childbirth care.

Local communities decided to set up the insurance scheme with seed funding and practical support from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its joint-venture partners.

The project is an example of the creative approach SPDC and partners take today in investing in communities. It gives local people the power to develop and implement projects themselves.

In the past, communities had little opportunity to contribute to the planning and execution of projects.

By March 2014, more than 24,000 people had signed up to the insurance scheme, run by three non-profit organisations: Health Care International, Clearline HMO and Marina Medical HMO.

Patients receive treatment at the Obio cottage hospital in Port Harcourt and at the Nembe cottage hospital in Bayelsa State, also supported financially and through practical help by SPDC and partners. More communities now want to establish similar schemes. 

Other projects have used the same community development approach to build schools, town halls and health clinics and improve fresh-water supplies. Funds can also be used to provide micro-credit finance, for example to support small businesses and women’s groups.