Using a case study from Ethiopia, this article examines the ways in which climate information and economic development interact in climate adaptation programmes. Microinsurance programmes have become very popular as an adaptation strategy but there has been little attention paid to the social, economic and political aspects of implementation. Examining one case in relation to the broader literature on climate adaptation projects suggests that greater attention needs to be paid to existing coping strategies, introduction of additional market risks, local capacity building and the socio-political context of implementation. Climate change cannot be viewed as a technical problem only; it has a social dimension as well.