Social Insurance Officers Discuss Their Effort to Extend Social Protection to Herders

The ILO-led UN Joint Programme (UNJP) “Extending Social Protection to Herders with Enhanced Shock Responsiveness” has been collaborating with the Competency-Based Education Center NGO (CBE) on training social insurance officers in western provinces of Mongolia with an aim to increase the social insurance coverage of herders.

Online training of trainers (ToT) was conducted for social insurance officers from Uvs, Khovd, and Bayan-Ulgii provinces in June 2021 to equip them with necessary skills for effective communication with herders. Upon receiving the training, the participants were expected to reach out herders and raise their awareness on social protection and its benefits, thus increase the coverage of herders.

The main activities of the collaboration with CBE were:
  1. Provide training for social insurance officers
  2. Support social insurance officers through an allowance so that they can reach herders more effectively and raise their awareness on social protection, thus increase their coverage
  3. Provide social insurance officers with handbooks with comprehensive information about social protection to be shared with herders.
The project granted a funding and allowance of MNT459,000 for each social insurance officer to cover their expenses related to reaching out herders including gas, stationery, and food so that they can reach herders with fewer financial restraints.

A.Oyuntulkhuur, Head of Social Insurance Department of Uvs province, said that it was the first time they received a funding specifically for reaching out herders. “The funding from the project was a great support for our social insurance officers to reach herders,” she said and emphasized the importance of continuous follow-up with the herders to maintain the sustainability of the project.

A total of 47 social insurance officers from Uvs, Khovd, and Bayan-Ulgii provinces who attended the ToT had discussions between September 13-15 on their efforts in reaching out herders and shared their lessons learned. Although Covid-19 situation related restrictions were among the biggest challenges in their effort, they were able to reach about 1,300 herder households and distributed over 2,000 handbooks. Some of the findings during their visit to herder households include:
  • It was common that herders lacked knowledge about social protection and its benefits
  • Covid-19 caused financial difficulties and affected household’s financial situation
  • Herders were appreciative for social insurance officers visiting them in person when they couldn’t visit the soum center and answered their questions about social protection
  • Herders found the handbooks useful and practical saying it contained a lot of great information from amendments made in laws and regulations to all the necessary information related to social insurance.
They also discussed the advantages of visiting households and meeting herders in person. Kh.Bayanjargal, social insurance officer from Bulgan soum, Khovd province, said “Young herders tend to ignore the issue of pension as they think it’s for elders. But when I do the actual calculation based on their age and show them, they understand the benefits and start paying attention.” She added that it is all about awareness.

A.Altynbek from Tsengel soum, Bayan-Ulgii province, has been working as a social insurance officer for 30 years and said the project activity of visiting herder households was a great opportunity to meet the people in his soum and get to know them as he couldn’t visit them as often.

These social insurance officers from Uvs, Khovd, and Bayan-Ulgii provinces will continue their effort in reaching herders out and raising awareness on social protection until the end of 2021. By the end of UNJP, it is expected that the social insurance coverage rate for herders will be increased by 5 per cent.