UN Joint Programme in Mongolia

ILO Led UN Joint Programme in Mongolia Contributes to 10 per cent increase to Herders’ Social Insurance Coverage in Target Soums

Initial reports show that United Nations Joint Project (UNJP) on Extending Social Protection to Herders with Enhanced Shock Responsiveness directly and indirectly contributed to the increase in social and health insurance coverage of herders by 10 per cent in the target 5 soums in Zavkhan province as well as a national increase of 5% within one year of project implementation.

News | 07 June 2021
Awareness raising peer training to herders in Ider soum, Zavkhan province
The two-year project that started in February last year seeks to support national authorities and local governments in closing the social protection gaps for the herder population, with a focus on reducing their vulnerabilities to poverty and extreme climate change. The UN-ADB MAPS mission in 2018 reported that the herding population is one of the groups currently left behind, and thus requires greater attention from policymakers.

Nomadic herders in Mongolia account for approximately a third of the population. They are particularly vulnerable to climate-driven shocks such as droughts, dzud, floods, as well as wildfires and dust storms. Social protection could be a key instrument in the provision of income security. However, only 15 percent of herders contribute to the voluntary social insurance scheme, as opposed to the 62.5 percent of all workers covered by social insurance.

Herders in Mongolia live scattered in the grassland. They have difficulty accessing services due to their lack of information about the services, financial ability to contribute to social insurance, their nomadic lifestyles and reducing interest in participating in contributory schemes. Inequality in accessing social services leads to greater disparities and is one of many socio economic reasons to explain why these population groups left behind.

Local peer trainers of Ider, Zavkhan
The UNJP piloted new approaches to extend social protection among herder men and women. For example, it introduced peer-to-peer learning at pilot soums of Zavkhan province, where herders, members of cooperatives, pastureland user groups (PUGs), lifelong education center staff and trade union representatives were trained as social insurance trainers, to advocate for the benefits of social and health insurance programmes among their peer herders. This is an innovative and practical approach, which complements traditional ways of raising awareness by social and health insurance officers only.

Innovative approaches for this project implementation are crucial for cooperatives, who had to reinvent themselves in the face of the market transition in Mongolia 30 years ago, as well as the much more recent Covid-19 pandemic. New situations called for new skills that could not easily acquired. The UNJP aims to fill this gap through organizing capacity building workshops for coops to improve their governance and activities as well as providing technical coaching to pilot incentive mechanisms to increase their health and social insurance coverage. Although the activities delayed due to the pandemic, ideas on incentives and activities for herder social insurance participation have successfully proposed. Technical and financial support to herder cooperatives empowers herder women and men to design and implement their own activities that will undoubtedly be relatable and enjoyable to their peers.

Group photo after training in herders' fall camp, Ider, Zavkhan
Progress reports show the achievement of important milestones such as the increase in social and health insurance coverage by 10 per cent in target 5 soums of Zavkhan province in 2020. Thirty-four herders, lifelong training centre teachers and trade union volunteers trained as local trainers for herders’ training programme. They organized workshops for half the herder population in the target locations about the benefits of social and health insurance, reaching over 4000 herders and distributing more than 1200 brochures to local households.

The UNJP will end in March 2022.