Although herders get information about social insurance on TV and radio and have a general understanding, they don’t know how they can get benefits in different situations.
The ILO-led UN Joint Programme “Extending Social Protection to Herders with Enhanced Shock Responsiveness” seeks to extend social protection to herders, focusing on reducing herders’ vulnerabilities to poverty and extreme climate change. In this regard, ILO has contributed to preparing advocates and local trainers in the target five soums (provincial lower administrative unit) of Zavkhan province to raise herders’ awareness on social protection and its benefits through a peer-to-peer approach.
As stated by the social insurance package law, herders are expected to enroll in voluntary social insurance. However, accounting for a third of the population, only 15% of herders in Mongolia contribute to the voluntary social insurance scheme. According to a study, 30%-40% of herders responded that they don’t know much about social protection, including its numerous benefits such as an old-age pension, maternity allowances, and compensations for occupational injury.
Herders are scattered over large areas in Mongolia. Commonly, herder families live 30km-40km away from each other and on geographically challenging distances, making it harder to get the information they need. Due to the unique nomadic culture, herders move between locations throughout the year following their livestock and travel miles to graze their livestock daily. In addition, they are more vulnerable to climate-driven shocks such as dzud (severe winter that causes the death of animals), floods, and dust storms. Such circumstances put them at risk of occupational injuries in the field.
Batsaikhan Dovoo is a herder from Ider soum, Zavkhan province in Mongolia. He has been enrolled in voluntary social insurance since 2004. But it was only until recently that he got to know about the benefits of social insurance through his own life experience. Last year, Batsaikhan fell off a camel, broke his leg, and injured his shoulder while herding on the steppe in Ider soum. “I realized the importance of enrolling in social insurance, especially when it covers compensation for occupational injuries,” Batsaikhan said.
In Mongolia, the voluntary social insurance scheme benefits include old-age pension, invalidity pension, survivor’s benefit, a benefit for temporary loss of the work ability, maternity benefit, funeral grant, work ability restoration allowances, and rehabilitation payments.
Due to poor infrastructure and accessibility to information, herders usually lack knowledge about the benefits of the social protection scheme. Batsaikhan received compensation for his injuries thanks to his wife, Amarbayasgalan Niisuren. She attended a social insurance training that year and obtained the necessary information regarding social insurance benefits. Although she has been enrolled in social insurance for 17 years, she didn’t know about social insurance benefits before the training.
It is common in their soum that herders don’t have adequate information about social protection benefits. Amarbayasgalan learned about social protection during awareness-raising training and learned how to claim compensation for occupational injuries, such as coverage for medical and hospital expenses and cash compensations. “Although herders get information about social insurance on TV and radio and have a general understanding, they don’t know how they can get benefits in different situations,” Amarbayasgalan said. She added that she shared her family’s experience with peer herders after the incident to raise their awareness of social insurance benefits.