SGRA Project in Nepal (September)

Guests at the Life Support Seminar

A JILAF delegation visited the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu from September 6 (Tuesday) to 12 (Monday) for the SGRA project (Supporting Grass-Roots Activities through the International Employers’ and Workers’ Network), which is being implemented with grants from the Japanese government (Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare). A Central Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting and Joint Regional Working Committee meeting were held during this period.
At the meeting of the CAC, which consists of representatives from the government, labour, and management, as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the participants confirmed the state of progress, achievements, and issues of the SGRA project in the current fiscal year and discussed future developments.
In addition, the main members of the Regional Working Committees (RWCs) in the districts of Bhaktapur, Parsa, and Morang, where the project is being implemented, assembled in Kathmandu for the first joint meeting of the RWCs to share experiences, achievements, and issues in those districts and pass on best practices and ways of overcoming issues with a view to strengthening, developing, and promoting the full independence of the project in these three districts.
At the start, a general explanation of the purpose of the meeting was given, after which the participants shared information on the current state of the SGRA cooperative societies (sahakari) and issues. Mr. Satoru Ogasawara, a department head at Japan’s Zenrosai Kyokai (National Association for Workers’ Welfare and Cooperative Insurance), then delivered a special lecture on “Consideration of a Mutual-Aid System,” in which he spoke about such topics as the background to the establishment of Zenrosai workers’ insurance cooperatives in Japan, the main purpose of the business, which has continued for 55 years, the relationship between public assistance, mutual assistance, and self-help, and the product lineup. The participants commented in unison that the information would be very useful reference. They also asked questions about such matters as (1) wedding and funeral insurance premiums (type 1) and the menu of receivable benefits; (2) the arrangement of general meetings and organizational management; (3) the benefits of workers’ mutual-aid insurance to the labour movement (in terms of organizational strengthening); (4) capital and premiums and their management; (5) the speed of payment of mutual-aid insurance; (6) the difference between insurance and mutual aid; (7) the dividend nature of rebates and efforts to increase capital; (8) means of supplying information to cooperative members; (9) penalties in the case of premium payment arrears; and (10) efforts to prevent dishonest practices.
Furthermore, the first Life Support Seminar (LSS) was held in Lalitpur on September 10. The seminar was attended by 52 new network members working in such fields as agriculture, sewing, construction, and gem processing. At the opening ceremony, Nepalese Minister of Defense Bal Krishna Khand, senior officials from the headquarters and regional branches of the Nepal Trade Union Congress, and a representative from an employers’ organization delivered addresses. JILAF then explained the objectives of the seminar and gave a general explanation of the SGRA project in Nepal, including mutual assistance through the establishment of SGRA sahakari, JILAF-led vocational training (literacy, etc.), the transfer (bridging) of network members to existing vocational training programs operated by the government and others, and assistance for finding employment and jobs and setting up businesses.
After that, Mr. Naohiro Tsukamoto, head of Zenrosai Kyokai’s business management department, gave a special lecture titled “Toward the Building of a Mutual-Aid System,” in which he spoke about such topics as the background to the establishment of Zenrosai (National Federation of Workers and Consumers Insurance Cooperatives), the history of workers’ insurance cooperatives in Japan, the building of a natural disaster insurance scheme bearing in mind lessons learned from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and the revision of legislation through signature-collecting campaigns and petitioning the government. In response, the participants asked questions about whether foreigners living in Japan could subscribe to mutual-aid insurance and the position of mutual-aid insurance in Japan.
There was then a practical session on household accounting to improve and raise the base level of livelihoods, and the seminar ended with an explanation of the activities of existing SGRA cooperative societies and the rights and duties incurred when subscribing. The seminar was reported on the nationwide Mountain TV. A researcher from the Japanese Embassy in Nepal and an expert from the ILO Kathmandu Office also attended the seminar as observers.

Schedule

DateContents
09/07Wed2nd Lalitpur Regional Working Committee meeting
09/08Thu2nd Central Advisory Committee meeting
09/09FriJoint Regional Working Committee meeting
09/10SatLife Support Seminar in Lalitpur

Photos of Participants

2nd CAC meeting

Joint RWC meeting

Zenrosai Kyokai lecture at the JRWC meeting

Address by the defense minister at the Life Support Seminar

Zenrosai Kyokai lecture at the Life Support Seminar

Question time at the Life Support Seminar