In September 2020, 32 herders, herder cooperative representatives, lifelong education trainers, social insurance officers, and trade union delegates from five soums (lower administration unit of the province) in Zavkhan province attended a two-day training in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, as part of the ILO-Led UN Joint Programme “Extending Social Protection to Herders with Enhanced Shock Responsiveness.”
The purpose of the training was to prepare the participants as social insurance advocates and local trainers to reach out to herders. It was structured to equip the participants with the knowledge of social insurance, its benefits, and laws and regulations. In addition, they were equipped with the necessary teaching and communication skills to approach herders effectively and efficiently.
Upon completing the training, the participants were divided into teams of three and returned to their soums to advocate for and raise awareness on social protection by reaching out to herders. After the high standard training, they were ready to work in teams and knew how to communicate well with herders and support each other.
We spoke to Batbaatar Lkhasuren, 53, a herder from Ider soum, to learn about his advocacy experience.
How was your understanding of social protection before the training, and how has the training changed it?
As a herder, I am approaching pension age. Considering that, my knowledge of social protection was not well. Also, although I am an active member of our community who participates in different activities and is close to the information, I didn’t know much about social insurance before attending the training. Generally, herders in my soum have very little knowledge about social insurance. I think the training focused on an essential issue of herders. After the training, we visited herder families last fall to raise their awareness of social protection. This spring, we followed up with the target families to see if they enrolled in social insurance. As a result of the training, I think reaching out to herders was very effective.
As a herder yourself, how would you describe your experience of using the peer-to-peer approach to raise awareness on social protection to herders?
It was a good experience for me. As a herder, I knew how to communicate with herders. It was more effective when someone like me, who the herder is already familiar with, explained the social insurance based on my own experience instead of someone else saying things. When some senior-level officers or someone unfamiliar visits, herders tend to shy away, they also get worried and avoid communicating what’s on their mind. Depending on who’s approaching them, the communication becomes completely different. With me, they speak freely.
During your visits to herder families, what was the level of herders’ knowledge of social protection, and how accessible were they to the information?
They didn’t have much knowledge about social protection. Although news on TV talks about how vital social insurance is, they don’t explain it in detail, such as what happens around social protection when herder gets injured at work field and when women take maternity leave. When we visit herder families, we use real-life examples and cases so that herders understand them well.
How would you describe your whole experience of attending the training, working in a team, reaching out to herders, and advocating for and raising awareness on social protection?
In my soum, people around the age of 40 who dropped out of school in the 1990s don’t have much access to information. In that sense, the advocacy and awareness-raising were very effective. As I remember, there hasn’t been a similar type of advocacy. It is not very practical to give information during bagh (lowest administration unit of the province) meetings as it’s challenging to get herders’ attention while their attention is on many other things. Therefore, reaching out to herders and visiting them was on point. The training helped me see the need for access to information to herders about social protection.