Social protection

Extending Social Protection to Herders with Enhanced Shock Responsiveness

Acknowledging high risks herders and rural children faced in being left behind, this UN Joint Programme (UNJP) seeks to support national authorities and provincial governments, in closing the social protection gaps for this population, with a particular concern on its role in reducing their vulnerabilities to poverty and extreme climate change. The ILO, FAO, UNFPA and UNICEF in Mongolia, under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator of Mongolia will work closely with the Government of Mongolia, social partners and other relevant stakeholders. The programme results will primarily contribute in achievement of SDG 1.3, 1.5 and 13.1.

Problem statement

In Mongolia, income, age, gender, location and sources-of-livelihood associated vulnerabilities are exacerbated for certain groups and interrelated, creating multiple deprivations. The UN-ADB MAPS mission reported that the herding population is one of the groups currently being left behind, and thus requires greater attention from policymakers. Herders’ situation is particularly threatening since they are at the verge of losing the foundation of their traditional nomadic life: the pastureland. Land degradation has reached 70 per cent due to exceeding livestock numbers that has reached to 66 million in 2018, and climate change. Mongolia is already experiencing unprecedented impacts from climate change – with the annual mean air temperature increasing by 2.24°C from 1940 to 2015 – triple the global average. While many herders consider increasing livestock numbers as a valid risk mitigation strategy for emergencies such as dzud , it is having an opposite impact: as natural resources become scarcer, animals become prone to diseases and death leading to lower productivity, income and food supply. Social protection could be a key instrument in the provision of income security but only 15 per cent of herders contribute to social insurance schemes; while a systematic social protection approach to shock is missing, both in terms of preparedness and response.

Target groups

Herders (female and male) and their family are the ultimate beneficiaries of the UNs Joint Programme. Herders in Mongolia live scattered in the grassland. They have difficult access to services due to their lack of information about the services, financial ability to contribute for social insurance, their nomadic lifestyles and reducing interest in participating in contributory schemes. According to the Labour Force Survey of 2018, Mongolia has 1.3 million workers, and by the account of General Authority for Social Insurance, 62.5 per cent of all workers are covered by social insurance, while only 15 per cent of Mongolian herders participate in national social insurance systems. As patterns of climate change are becoming extreme, herders with restricted information and access to services are highly vulnerable to adverse livelihoods risks, and hence further vulnerable to fall deeper into poverty.


The three UNJP outcomes as listed below enhance the achievement of the Strategic Priority Area 2 of the Mongolia UNDAF (2017-2021) which will serve as the overarching objective of the joint programme: “By 2021 the poor and marginalized population benefit from better social protection including increased utilization of quality and equitable basic social services”.
  • UNJP Outcome 1: More herding men and women access social and health insurance effectively.
  • UNJP Outcome 2: Institutional capacity strengthened to mainstream shock-responsiveness into the national social protection system. 
  • UNJP Outcome 3. Social protection financing strategy formulated for sustainable and adequate benefits for herding men, women, boys and girls, those in other groups, guided by evidence and stakeholders’ dialogue;


  • Output 1.1: Innovative solutions responding to life contingencies and social insurance needs of herders applied to the administration of social insurance schemes, both men and women.
  • Output 1.2: Improved income generating and entrepreneurship promotion activities/programmes accessible to herding men and women
  • Output 2.1: Shock responsive social protection measures focusing on boys and girls in herder families piloted and documented.
  • Output 2.2: The resilience of livestock-based livelihoods to climate-related risks and shocks enhanced at national, local and herder community
  • Output 3.1: Financing strategy options for sustainable and adequate benefits guided by evidence and stakeholders’ dialogue


Herding men and women and their children are beneficiaries and stakeholders at the same time; Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP) is the main government partner to implement the Joint Programme; Ministry of Food and Agriculture of Light Industry (MFALI), General Authority for Social Insurance (GASInsurance), General Authority for Health Insurance (GAHI), General Authority for Labour and Welfare Services (GALWS), Authority for Family, Child and Youth Development (AFCYD), Mongolian Employers’ Federation (MONEF), Confederation of Mongolian Trade Union (CMTU), National Center for Lifelong Education (NCLE), National Authority for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NANEM), Labour and Social Protection Research Institute (LSPRI), National Emergency Management Authority Department (NEMAD), National Statistical Office (NSO), Subnational government in target province, Mongolian National Federation of Pasture User Groups (MNFPUG), National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Cooperatives (NAMAC), Mongolian Cooperative Training and Information Center (MCTIC) and Development Partners: ADB, WB, WFP and international NGOs such as Save the Children, Mercy Corps, Mongolian Red Cross Society.