COVID-19 Vaccination in MongoliaEfforts for COVID-19 vaccination in Mongolia can be described in the oxymoron “small but mighty.” This tiny nation is typically overshadowed by its neighboring states, Russia and China. However, in the event of a pandemic, the position as a small country enclosed by the borders of the world’s two largest vaccine manufacturers can be extremely valuable. Mongolia has benefited greatly from its close ties with its neighbors, powerful forces determined to aid their partners through vaccine diplomacy. As a result of these vaccination efforts, Mongolia hopes to be free of COVID-19 sometime around the Mongolian summer of 2021.

Helpful Partnerships

Mongolia has a sufficient number of vaccines to properly ensure protection within the adult population, primarily due to its advantageous location between China and Russia. The relationship between Mongolia and China dates back to the 1940s when the countries signed a treaty of friendship and mutual assistance. As for Mongolia and Russia, both nations signed the Russo-Mongolian Agreement back in 1912, which gives both countries major commercial advantages. Through these foreign policy agreements, toward the end of April 2021, Mongolia had 1.5 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China and 20,000 doses of Sputnik-V vaccines from Russia.

Additionally, on March 24, 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) committed $1.2 million to assist the Mongolian government in its COVID-19 response, according to the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia. USAID is committed to assisting efforts for COVID-19 vaccination in Mongolia by strengthening the country’s disease-fighting capabilities. USAID also supports other critical areas such as “infection prevention and control, preparing laboratory systems for large-scale testing” and public communication on personal preventative measures. Due to aid from Russia, China, the United States and other foreign assistance, as of May 6, 2021, Mongolia has administered more than 1.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccination Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

The worldwide pandemic brought into sharp focus the importance of a nation’s foreign policy and what is made possible through efforts of foreign and domestic relations. Mongolia is reaping the benefits of vaccination diplomacy by relying on its well-established foreign policy framework. Mongolia’s COVID-19 vaccine initiative includes COVAX, an international effort aimed at ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the world.

Specifically, Mongolia’s foreign minister, Battsetseg Batmunkh, has maintained excellent relationships with Mongolia’s allies. For instance, the U.S. and Mongolia have been in regular contact on how the United States, as a key ally, can help Mongolia tackle COVID-19. Additionally, On February 24, 2021, Batmunkh expressed deep gratitude to the foreign minister of China, Wang Yi, for China’s generous assistance in providing resources to Mongolia to fight COVID-19. Batmunkh also adds that the China-Mongolia relationship sets a good example of how nations around the world can empower one another in the face of adversity.

The Mongolian government is so optimistic about the country’s vaccination rollout that Mongolia is promising citizens a summer free from COVID-19. With a fully vaccinated population of 53.4% as of June 1, 2021, Mongolia is without a doubt at the forefront of the worldwide effort to safeguard communities against COVID-19.

Anna Lovelace
Photo: Unsplash

Environmental Poverty in Mongolia
The biosphere is rapidly deteriorating and nomadic life in Mongolia is paying a high price. Those who lose their livestock to severe weather conditions also lose their main source of revenue and safety. Many abandon their farms to pursue a life in the cities, where other calamities await. Today, the situation of environmental poverty in Mongolia has grown direr than ever.

The Problem of Landowners

Mongolia’s abrupt transition from a Soviet satellite state into a free market economy left little room for nomads to enjoy fiscal mobility. Shortly after lands were privatized, opportunists secured farmlands and promptly overexploited them. These elites would excessively hoard horses, sheep and yak, who would subsequently mow the grounds down to bare land. Nomads, who had lived as if the land was shared and had known how to properly cultivate and harvest from their farms, were left in the dust. Today, 80% of the country’s livestock belongs to the richest 20% of owners.

The agricultural inexperience of many of these owners came at environmental and economic costs. “Herding is a skill that you learn over a lifetime,” says Dr. Timothy May, professor in Eurasian Studies at the University of North Georgia. “Being a nomad looks like you’re just raising animals and the animals know what to do, but you have to know how to manage the animals. What would work with their pastures and so forth.”

Natural Catastrophes

Overfarming and other sorts of extraction, such as mining, have grown into large-scale issues like pollution and public health conditions. Gers, tent-like structures that serve as portable houses, are often heated by burning raw coal and cheap minerals. Particulate air matter or dust particles clog the air and damage respiratory systems. As a result, pneumonia is currently the leading cause of death in the country.

Possibly the most devastating climate crisis, however, is the largest determinant of nomadic poverty. Dzuds are various natural catastrophes specific to Mongolia’s shifts in weather and are only growing in size and severity. Of the five types of dzuds, the most commonly known is a tsaagan dzud. During these, a layer of ice or snow blocks animals from reaching food or water, leaving them to die in mass groups. In 2010, 20% of the country’s animals were wiped out as a result. This year, many experts are suggesting the risk of a dzud is unnervingly high.

Environmental Poverty on the Rise

With each environmental change, nomads are increasingly vulnerable to the clutches of poverty. Cities like Ulaanbaatar are already saturated with public health concerns like food insecurity and urban populations are still growing. Maternal mortality and water scarcity are further complicating the issue.

Not all hope is lost, however. Dr. May suggests that by empowering skilled nomads, they could start to untangle the economic and environmental damages. “Nomadic lifestyle is better not only for the animals but the quality of the product, there is an industry that can be there,” he says, “because there’s plenty of money to be made with the nomadic life….They can feed the country — they can be self-sufficient, and with plenty to export.” These recommendations, among other solutions, are important to addressing the cycle of environmental poverty in Mongolia.

– Danielle Han
Photo: Flickr

Investing in Renewable Energy in MongoliaEnergy access has surged in Mongolia in recent years. From 2010 to 2018, the percentage of the population that had access to energy in Mongolia increased from 78.5% to 98.1%. In rural areas, the percentage of people who had access to electricity in 2010 was roughly 41.9% and that number grew to about 94.6% in 2018. This increase in energy access coincides with renewable energy projects in Mongolia that the country has invested in.

Mongolia and Energy

Mongolia relies on imported coal for most of its energy. In 2018, 93% of all power generated from the country’s Central Energy System came from coal plants. However, the coal sector cannot maintain the country’s energy demand for the growing population. Fortunately, the potential for wind and solar energy in Mongolia is believed to be 2,600 gigawatts. This would provide enough energy for all of Mongolia and even Northeast Asia.

The Renewable Energy and Rural Electricity Access Project (REAP)

One of the first projects to capitalize on renewable energy in Mongolia was the Renewable Energy and Rural Electricity Access Project (REAP) which was completed from 2007 to 2012. The goal of the project was to provide herders access to electricity by selling and installing solar home systems (SHSs). At the time, herders were among the most impoverished people in the country. Fortunately, the SHS units provided under the REAP project greatly improved more than 70% of herders’ electricity access in Mongolia.

Photovoltaic Solar Energy (PV)

In 2017, the Second Energy Sector Project (SESP), presented by Mongolio’s Ministry of Energy, was approved by the World Bank. The project’s objective is to renovate and expand Mongolia’s energy infrastructure. The $54.4 million in funding would help supply nine of the country’s provinces and install Mongolio’s first large-scale build photovoltaic solar energy (PV) plant.

Mongolia’s investment follows the successful implementation of PV systems in China. According to Nature, “Of China’s 10 poverty-alleviation projects, its development of photovoltaic-based solar power has been one of the most successful.” In just three years, the solar installations helped 800,000 impoverished households in China. In Lixin, a county in China, the PV systems provided about $440 in extra yearly income to families.

Looking Forward

The government continues to invest in renewable energy in Mongolia. In April 2020, funding was approved to install the world’s largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). The project is set to be completed in 2024 and will “supply 44 gigawatt-hours of clean peaking power annually, and support the integration of an additional 859 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity into the CES grid annually.” The PV systems and BESS are just two new installations of many that are set to tap into the potential of renewable energy in Mongolia and help improve the quality of life for many.

– Sophie Shippe
Photo: Flickr

Migrant Herders and Poverty
Mongolia is situated in Central Asia and is landlocked by Russia to the north and China to the south. The country has a rich history that remains shrouded in mystery for many people. Its vast landscape consists of mountains, pastures and deserts. As a result, the geography creates suitable conditions for migrant herders to carry out their traditions. Sheep, camels, cattle, yak, goats and horses have provided for nomads for thousands of years.

History of Mongolia

Outer Mongolia used to be a part of the Mongolian Empire while Inner Mongolia was a province of China. The split of Mongolia developed first from internal strife within the Empire.  Genghis Khan ruled in the eastern territory for 34 years. The Manchus people ruled during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Through alliances with Chinese administrators, the Ming dynasty was able to start expanding its power. By 1700, the Qing dynasty gained full control of Mongolia. To alleviate tensions, the Manchus used strategies to pacify the Mongol Khans. The two groups proposed intermarriage between the two groups in order to stabilize the country. In 1945, Western powers recognized the sovereignty of Mongolia, while Inner Mongolia remained a province of China.

Poverty in Mongolia

There are two main factors that explain the decline of the herding economy: The end and privatization of livestock cooperatives and state farms and climate change. As a result, the socio-economic repercussions rapidly created a new underclass of extremely impoverished families. These families are predominantly unemployed migrant herders with few livestock to support them. In 2017, environmental challenges dealt a fatal blow to the last surviving migrant herders. Thus, around 600,000 migrant herders seeking employment flocked to Ulaanbaatar with their families. Due to their lack of income, many families had to live in yurts around the urban centers.

In an interview, Altansukh Purev told the Guardian, “We lost all our animals […] 39 out of 40 cows, almost 300 sheep. The cows wandered far away in the snow and never came back. And when we got up one morning, all the sheep had frozen to death. We had lost everything so we decided to leave immediately for Ulaanbaatar.” Migrant herders are particularly vulnerable to the “dudz,” an unusual weather pattern marked by dry summers and extremely frigid winters.

Aid for Mongolia

Mongolia experienced a period of recovery when mining sectors, tourism and trade partners brought substantial revenue.

More recently, USAID has reached out to Mongolia during the COVID-19 pandemic to implement strategies for sustainable growth. According to USAID, the Mongolian economy needs to move away from heavily relying on extractive industries and begin expanding its smaller business sectors. To date, USAID has provided more than 500 groups and cooperatives with technical assistance.

Additionally, Australia has awarded scholarships to 62 Mongolian students to receive higher education in Australia. A technical school in the south Gobi serves as a model for Technical and Vocational Education through competency-based training curricula. Australia also extends its assistance to target sustainable growth, safety regulations in the mining sectors and geoscience.

Migrant herders are finding more opportunities to improve their income, education and health through aid Mongolia has received. Although many migrants cannot go back to herding, training and education allow them to provide for their families.

Elhadjoumar Tall
Photo: Flickr

Pollution in Mongolia
Pollution is just as much of a problem in the developing world as it is in the developed world, perhaps even more so. For one, developing countries cannot always afford to fight it. Additionally, oftentimes pollution is created directly by what is needed to survive. This is the case in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Efforts to address pollution in Mongolia go hand-in-hand with helping the poor.

Pollution and Poverty

Many people in Ulaanbaatar, often impoverished, rely heavily on coal to keep themselves warm during cold winters. The problem is that the widespread usage of coal concentrated in one area creates a great deal of air pollution. Temperatures in the city rarely reach above the upper 60s, creating an almost yearlong reliance on coal.

In turn, air pollution negatively impacts the impoverished in Ulaanbaatar, where poverty is increasing. Many struggling Mongolian families deal with the unhealthy air firsthand. Air pollution can cause a variety of health problems, including lung and heart diseases. As the impoverished are likely to be unable to afford or access high-quality health care, this often leads to higher mortality rates.

Potential Solutions

The most straightforward solution would be to do away with coal usage. Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done, considering the temperatures in Ulaanbaatar. The government would need to establish more sustainable and better methods of heating to provide people with the necessary heating to survive. It is also essential for these methods to be affordable to ensure the impoverished can use them. Two alternative methods are geothermal heating and underfloor heating.

Geothermal heating involves using the underground to heat a home, as the temperatures underground are often reliably warmer than above-ground temperatures. Installing geothermal heating pumps requires finding suitable areas underground to drill. Unfortunately, the pumps can also be expensive to install; humanitarian organizations would need to provide significant funding to set up this heating system in Ulaanbaatar.

Another viable method of heating is underfloor heating. It is similar to geothermal heating but a bit less work and has significant benefits such as being much cheaper than other heating sources and eliminating drafts entirely. However, it also requires funding for installation. The installation could help those in poverty, however, as it could utilize local workers for the construction.

Underfloor heating may also be the better alternative because many poor Mongolians have a nomadic lifestyle and the installation must take place in unused areas. With an understanding of migration patterns, underfloor heating could be installed in areas that are currently in disuse so that it is ready to be used when people return.

Moving Forward

Pollution in Mongolia continues to be an issue, particularly in cities like Ulaanbaatar. With concerns about health problems associated with high air pollution, it is clear that a sustainable alternative to coal needs to be implemented. Implementation, however, will require significant funding from the Mongolian government and humanitarian organizations. Moving forward, it is essential that these groups make addressing pollution in the country a priority of their efforts. Pollution and poverty are intertwined; pollution must be adequately addressed in order to eradicate poverty.

Remy Desai-Patel
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Mongolia
Mongolia is a country in East Asia with more than 3 million people. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Mongolia experienced varied periods of social change and growth. After dispelling the controlling Communist Party in the early 1990s, social and economic policies rapidly transformed the nation’s outlook and prospects. Consequently, opportunities for women also changed. To understand this issue better, here are six facts about women’s rights in Mongolia.

6 Facts About Women’s Rights in Mongolia

  1. The communist party provided new opportunities for women in the twentieth century. In 1921, the Mongol nationalists established a communist party, in tandem with the Soviet Union, which essentially proclaimed equality between men and women. As a result, women received an education, entered the workforce and had political power. The government provided generous benefits and healthcare, and female literacy rates dramatically increased.
  2. The fall of the Soviet Union presented opportunities and challenges for women’s rights. The political transition in Mongolia came with newfound hardships, particularly economic ones. The new government removed subsidies assisting Mongolians, leaving many without financial assistance. From 1991 to the mid-200s, women faced higher unemployment levels, and more than 30% lived in poverty.
  3. With men working in the fields, women have turned to cities for employment and have found success. In recent years, as agriculture was deemed a male endeavor, women were forced to turn to other places to earn an income. Parents subsequently invested in their daughters’ education, and now, with women more educated than men, they are more likely to be employed. This phenomenon is now being deemed a “reverse gender gap.”
  4. The female unemployment rate is 2.6%, while male unemployment is 7.1%. This might not be a good thing for women’s rights in Mongolia, however. With higher alcoholism rates for Mongolian men in recent years, there is a clear connection between unemployment, alcoholism and violence within the home. Approximately one-third of Mongolian women suffer from domestic violence, a staggering statistic for a country whose economy relies so heavily on female labor.
  5. Sexual harassment remains a serious issue. With an estimated 63% of women experiencing sexual harassment of some form, the need for reform is evident. There is not a law in Mongolia protecting women from male harassment. Even in the workplace, where women are significant contributors, there is no legal defense against unwanted harassment.
  6. Despite female education rates, women are subject to massive inequities in pay. On average, women are more likely to be better educated than their male counterparts; however, traditional norms and values prevent women from fully achieving equality. A lack of childcare and social benefits, partnered with patriarchal values, gets in the way of opportunities for women. Furthermore, the gender pay gap stands at more than 12.6%, an increase from previous years. Even when women persevere through their society’s social limits, they do not receive as much pay as men of the same standing.

The unique history of Mongolia has altered the standing of women in Mongolian society multiple times. Despite Mongolia’s patriarchal values, the investment in female education has proven to be fruitful as women are well-educated and seeking work within the commercial setting. However, there is still much work to be done, as women face lower wages, sexual abuse and inequalities.

There is room to be hopeful, though, as rising levels of education and employment mean that there will be continued improvement within Mongolia’s social and economic spheres. Hopefully, women’s rights in Mongolia will continue to improve, and all Mongolians will soon embrace female contributions to society.

Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in MongoliaAccording to the World Bank, “two in five poor people in Mongolia are children under the age of 15.” However, many organizations are working to combat the effects of child poverty in Mongolia. Among the different NGOs making direct efforts to help children in Mongolia, three are making significant strides in changing the lives of as many vulnerable young people as possible. Below are the three NGOs tackling child poverty in Mongolia.

3 NGOs Dedicated to Ending Child Poverty in Mongolia

  1. The Lotus Children’s Centre – For the past 25 years, the Lotus Children’s Centre has been caring for children who were abused and abandoned. The Lotus Children’s Centre was founded by Didi Ananda Kalika and is currently located in Gachuurt. Around 65-75 children call the center home, receiving vital necessities such as nutrition, healthcare and education. The center strives to provide children with the tools they need in order to escape the cycle of poverty in adulthood and thrive as healthy individuals. Even after the children leave the center, the organization continues to support their needs through education and career opportunities.
  2. Flourishing Future Mongolia – Observing the painful reality of families losing their children to streets due to poverty, Aase Sims, Susan Griffeth, Ruthild Beck, Nergui Purevsuren and Oyunbat created the Flourishing Future community center in 2001 in the slums of a ger district. The organization has continuously focused on supporting marginalized families and their children in Mongolia. Flourishing Future focuses on providing scholarships, meals, education, medical care and partnering with the local girls’ shelter and the local orphanage. With the help of international donors, 36 students received scholarships in 2016-2017 to further their education and pursue their career goals. Flourishing Future advocates for educating not only children going into first grade but also for adults who need vocational training and English training. The organization distributes food with the condition that the children in the family must be attending school. Furthermore, they support the local orphanage by not only providing English lessons and outings but also running a yearly summer camp for the children. In addition to providing food twice a month to families who qualify for the program, the NGO also helps families stay warm by providing them with firewood.
  3. Asral – When the Soviet Union collapsed, many families who lost their homes migrated to Ulaanbaatar. In 2001, Venerable Panchen Otrul Rinpoche founded Asral in order to provide support to families so that no more children would be abandoned on the streets. With the help of the community and local leaders, the NGO provides education, food and daily needs for the children from marginalized families. The Hot Meal Project is one of the main projects that directly help impoverished children in Mongolia. The Hot Meal project supports 30 children from the most impoverished families by providing daily meals, health care, financial needs, clothes and other basic needs.

The Lotus Children’s Centre, Flourishing Future Mongolia and Asral are working every day to protect the lives of children and their families. With the assistance of the NGOs, children in Mongolia are able to stay with their families. By directly helping these families, the NGOs are changing lives in a positive way.

– Hakyung Kim
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Mongolia
The country of Mongolia resides in the center of the Asian continent. Mongolia is home to diverse landscapes ranging from mountains to pasturelands to deserts. With a population of 3.2 million people, the nation hosts a number of significant poverty issues. Here are five facts about poverty in Mongolia.

5 Facts About Poverty in Mongolia

  1. Economic Danger: Expectations have determined that COVID-19 will set Mongolia’s economy back significantly. Economic growth rose from 5.4% to 7.2% in 2018 but dropped to 5.1% in 2019. The copper and gold mining industry, which is worth an estimated $3 trillion, could suffer as the country attempts to contain the virus.
  2. Income: As of 2019, the average annual income for the Mongolian household equated to approximately $1,681.24, a rate that has been increasing in recent years. According to the World Bank, the Mongolian poverty line is at 1,998,960 MNT or $795.8 per year. As of 2018, nearly one-third of the country lives in poverty. Furthermore, 15% of Mongolian citizens hover above this line and are in danger of falling beneath from slight industrial fluctuations.
  3. Living Conditions: This particular region of eastern Asia has a notoriously brutal climate, with winter night temperatures plummeting to – 40 degrees Celsius. According to a segment from TRT World, some homeless in the nation’s capital must live underground to survive. Dorjgotov Altanstengel, a homeless resident in Ulaanbaatar, resorts to sleeping between burning hot pipes in the sewage for warmth. There is a growing homelessness concern in the urban sectors of Ulaanbaatar, as thousands are at risk of eviction and displacement while redevelopment plans are underway. For the impoverished with a home in the nation’s capital, conditions are still far from adequate. Around 9% of Mongolia’s capital citizens live in poverty. Living conditions include living in tents without running water, heating or plumbing.
  4. Children in Poverty: Poverty in Mongolia is most prevalent among the young. Approximately one-third of the population consists of children. Two out of five poor people are youths under the age of 15. Children who work to support their families closely match the hours of adults, averaging about 13 hours a week. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), about 56,000 children from ages 5 to 17 are involved in child labor, and over half of them working in hazardous conditions.
  5. Rural vs Urban: The rural and urban sides of Mongolia are progressing at astonishingly different rates. Over two-thirds of the population now live in urban areas, yet poverty has been declining significantly in rural areas. In rural areas, poverty declined from 9% to 30.8% in just two years. During this same time frame, poverty remained unchanged in urban areas at 27%. In addition, with surging populations in urban areas, six out of 10 impoverished people now live in heavily populated areas.

Looking Forward

Financial experts are hopeful about Mongolia’s future. Some expect that the copper and gold mining industry will make large strides in economic growth and development if the global pandemic can contain itself and not have prolonged effects.

Multiple NGO projects are currently at work to abolish poverty in Mongolia. Asral, for example, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to keeping Mongolian families and children out of poverty. Its projects range from providing direct aid to poor communities to educating women on how to secure jobs. Other organizations focus on educating the public, such as the Asia Foundation. In addition to Mongolia, the Asia Foundation has reached 20 other countries on the Asian continent, promoting women’s education and involvement in politics as well as supporting local efforts to maintain peace in conflicted regions.

These five facts about poverty in Mongolia show that important changes are still necessary to help reduce poverty in the country. The poor heavily depend on charities and aid donations, so bringing awareness to such conditions is a step in the right direction.

Amanda J. Godfrey
Photo: Flickr

Anti-Poverty in MongoliaTo combat corruption, officials in Ulaanbaatar have given power to citizens in an app. The app is for citizens to vote on public amenities like security cameras or new park spaces. Since Mongolia has seen a rapid boom in its economy, it is still attempting to understand the best ways to engage the public in community efforts. The Mongolian government has decided to use budget participatory measures to help promote anti-poverty. Decentralization is a large focus on the participatory budget so that decisions do not only occur in urban areas. Mongolia has a poverty rate of 28.4%, so it is imperative to work towards decreasing this number.

Public Participation in Mongolia

In 2013, the Mongolian government created a new law titled The Integrated Budget Law. This is the first law in Mongolia that works toward Mongolian residents’ participation in the Local Development Fund. The fund emerged to offer monetary assistance in urban centers and the more rural areas. The fund immediately provided relief by placing 280 street lights in various cities between 2013 and 2015. Despite this, the needs of Mongolian residents vary depending on where they are located. Urban centers long for more street lights while rural areas need more welfare to provide support for stagnating jobs.

The Asia Foundation and Anti-poverty in Mongolia

To gain public participation, the government has partnered with the nonprofit The Asia Foundation and a government organization called The Swiss Agency for Development. The Asia Foundation created an app to vote on public projects in 2014 and working with the Ulaanbaanter Municipal, mapped out entire districts and important amenities in a website called manaikhoroo.

The Asia Foundation is concerned with rural areas receiving the important services they need like job training and loans. The urban centers still have a majority of representation in government, but the focus is turning more towards local khoroos to find what they need the most. The efforts going toward anti-poverty include attempting to give more power to local communities. Another program connected to the participatory budget, named the Urban Governance Project, is working towards giving all residents a scorecard to identify what things they need the most. The government is attempting to provide equal representation for all khorros. The Asia Foundation also worked with another NGO named the GER Community Mapping Center to focus on the subdivisions of Ulaanbaatar, called khoroos, to share the Local Development Fund equally in all areas.

Mongolia has Replicated Brazil’s Anti-poverty Measure

The idea behind participatory budgeting began as an anti-poverty measure in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Brazilian Worker’s Party introduced the participatory budget as a way to counteract the dictatorship in 1989. The struggle with participatory budgets is keeping the people interested in taking part in determining the budget. As with Porte Alegre, participation has passed through waves of interest and disinterest. The Asia Development fund estimated from a survey of 33 khoroos, only 18% knew about the Local Development Fund.

The app works better in Ulaanbaatar because 90% of people have internet connection in the city. It is more difficult to inform the nomadic people living in Mongolia. Since 40% of the people live in Nomadic tribes, it is difficult for the government to work towards mapping entire areas. Along with this, 60% of the nomadic population has settled into shantytown Gers around the central city of Ulaanbaatar because of drastic weather changes making it difficult to wander as they used to.

How Mongolia Can Improve its Anti-poverty Measures

Through updating the mapping of the Gers and informing the public, the government can provide funding to the areas that need it most. A lot of work is necessary to implement the voting system to all areas in Mongolia, but so far, 800,000 people in Ulaanbaatar have voted using the app. Despite this only accounting for half of the population, 54% of women voted by the app. The Asian Development Bank is working towards providing community meetings to explain to residents how they can involve themselves with the Local Development Fund.

Participatory budget is useful in aiding anti-poverty measures and other cities are picking up on using the same principles as Mongolia. In 2015, Paris introduced a new participation method geared towards citizens suggesting ideas that generated benefits for residents in local communities. Paris government officials partook in a social media campaign and garnered more than one million views on an online platform discussing the most popular ideas. Paris government officials held discussions in community meetings and people could suggest ideas offline as well.

The Mongolia model towards participation budgeting is still new, but as the model gains traction through advocacy and mapping, the government officials in Ulaanbaatar hope to spread the participatory budget system to other places in Mongolia to let residents know that they care about how their money is spent.

– Sarah Litchney
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked nation in East Asia, caught between Russia to the north and China to the South. Since transitioning into a capitalist democracy in the 1990s, it has become one of the region’s fastest-growing economies. However, Mongolia is held back by various issues such as poverty and uneven economic growth. Here are five facts about poverty in Mongolia:

Five Facts About Poverty in Mongolia

  1. Poverty Rates: According to the World Bank, 28.4% of Mongolians lived below the poverty line as of 2018. The Mongolian Poverty Line is defined as living off 166,580 Tugrug ($66.4 USD) per month. A further 15%  are considered vulnerable to falling into poverty due to unforeseen events. Taken together, these statistics show that two out of every five Mongolians live in or close to poverty.
  2. High Inflation: Mongolia has been experiencing rapid inflation over the past few years, compounding the issues surrounding poverty in Mongolia. Inflation rates increased from 0.73% in 2016 to 7.26% in 2019. This financially strains vulnerable communities who already struggle to provide for necessities. High inflation notably impacts the urban poor more than the rural poor; while the urban poor need to buy all their food, many rural herders and farmers can produce much of their own food and gain greater profits from increased prices.
  3. Uneven Economic Growth: Mongolia’s GDP has grown in the past few years, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has benefited. Approximately one-third of Mongolian GDP growth comes from mining, which only employs about 6% of the total population and relies heavily on foreign investors. Rural areas are experiencing continuing economic growth due to increased livestock prices, as well as higher rates of consumption and decreasing poverty rates, as opposed their urban counterparts. This is most evident in the rates of herders who fall below the poverty line. According to the World Bank, “Herders were among the poorest in 2010, but now only one in three herders are estimated to be poor.”
  4. Rural v. Urban: This uneven economic growth can best be seen in the divide between the rural and urban poor. While poverty percentages have decreased in rural areas, the rate of urban poverty has remained unchanged. As previously stated, those in rural areas are experiencing economic growth while the urban poor are trapped in stagnation. Rural poverty decreased from 34.9% in 2016 to 30.8% in 2018, while Urban poverty hovers just above 27%. While the rural poverty percentages are still higher, it’s important to keep in mind that 63.5% of the poor live in cities.
  5. Poor Living Conditions: Due to the country’s nomadic past, gers (traditional Mongolian tents), are still widely used throughout the country. These structures are cheap compared to apartments and other housing arrangements, with both the rural and urban poor living in them. A reported 57% of all poor Mongolians live in gers. However, most gers lack many modern necessities such as insulation and running water. This exacerbates the fact that nine in 10 poor Mongolians lack access to various basic infrastructure services like sanitation and heating. The central government is continuing to address these issues and is attempting to move those living in gers into more modern housing.

The Good News

Mongolia has been experiencing nearly 30 years of economic growth and social development. Many experts describe Mongolia as “The Wolf Economy” due to its massive growth and supply of natural resources. The nation has tripled its GDP since 1991 with help from international groups and smart government investments. Healthcare industries have seen a massive improvement, with Mongolia seeing declines in maternal and child mortality rates. The government has also instituted various programs to help people out of poverty in Mongolia and raise the general standard of living. The United States has provided aid and development funds to help strengthen the Mongolian economy and promote democratic political reforms. As a result, the US is Mongolia’s fourth-largest import partner, valuing more than $200 million dollars in items such as machinery and consumer goods. Various American businesses also operate within Mongolia such as Visa, Caterpillar Inc. and GE.

– Malcolm Schulz
Photo: Flickr