The fishing industry in West Africa is a high-risk and accident-prone business yet until recently, few people had access to health insurance. But fishermen have taken to casting their own safety nets by creating small, community-based health schemes. And the idea has struck a chord with other groups as well. ILO TV explains.
The fishing village of Hann, in Senegal on the Atlantic Coast of West Africa. Bringing in the catch can be a risky business/and not just on the high seas. On shore, too, whole communities have to fend for themselves while the main breadwinner is away. Those left behind also work in the fishing industry. It’s a lucrative source of income in a very poor country. But the fishing industry can be dangerous, even in the market place.
This porter says there are risks in his business too, the baskets are too heavy and his back hurts, but he can’t carry any less because he gets paid per basket.
But now with the help of the International Labour Organization, or ILO, the fishermen have banded together to form their own, community-based health insurance, backed by the fishing federation. Instead of facing steep hospital bills, they can pay small contributions to a local micro-insurance scheme. The ILO’s STEP programme for poverty eradication has helped set up a regional network -“La Concertation” - which covers community-based health schemes in 11 different countries.
Assane Diop, Director of Social Protection, ILO
The ILO’s STEP programme is playing a fundamental role in the capacity for research and operations. So today, in developing countries, we are privileged to be a partner, through STEP, in all these micro-insurance schemes. Now we have to give them not just the basics, but also a strategy to help them, consolidate further.
Tocsik Lyrics, rap star
“When a musician gets sick who is going to take care of him? Most probably the fans who are listening to his music do not even know he is sick, so as musicians we need to create this type of organization like the micro health insurance scheme”
Forming the association is the first step on the way to extending social security to everybody.