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

Homelessness in Mongolia
Mongolia is a semi-presidential republic located in Northern Asia. Known as the homeland of the 13th-century conqueror, Genghis Khan, Mongolia still maintains the traditions of a nomadic way of life. After the Mongolian Revolution of 1921, which ended the communist Chinese dominance, the Mongolian People’s Republic was established in 1924. The country also went through a peaceful democratic revolution in 1990, after which, the country’s ex-communist party competed for political power with the Democratic Party. In the wake of these political changes, homelessness in Mongolia, driven by a housing shortage, has become a significant concern.

Homelessness in Mongolia

Currently, homelessness is a huge issue the nation is trying to tackle. In Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, there are reports of homeless people living in the sewage system. To improve homelessness in Mongolia, the government and humanitarian organizations must determine the contributing factors, the individuals affected and the measures being taken.

Similar to many countries, homelessness in Mongolia is linked to a lack of affordable housing. Ulaanbaatar, for example, underwent rapid urbanization during the past decade. Mongolia’s mining boom in 2012 helped immensely in the urbanization of Mongolia. After the establishment of the Privatization Law, which allowed people to freely choose residence location, many Mongolians migrated to Ulaanbaatar for more job opportunities. Ulaanbaatar’s population, which was 650,000 people in 1998, increased to 1.49 million people in 2018. This migration to Ulaanbaatar was further encouraged by a series of flock-devastating winters which forced many nomadic populaces to migrate to the city.

Migration and Ger Areas

Many migrants set up Ger in the city, which is traditional Mongolian housings; around Ulaanbaatar, there are now numerous Ger areas. In 2018, the Mongolian officials estimated that 55% of the city, which is about 750,000 people, lived in Ger around Ulaanbaatar. These Ger areas, however, are not the optimal housing solution for Mongolia.

These houses aren’t connected to basic services such as running water, sewage and waste disposal systems. Because these housings rely on coal stoves in individual homes to provide heating during the harsh winters, the stoves are contributing to air pollution in Mongolia. While the Mongolian government is working to address the issue, receptivity to the new development plan was mixed.

Government Aims

While the recent economic boom in Mongolia improved housing to high-rises and luxury residents, there is still a lack of affordable housing units. Part of this is due to how the Mongolian government aims to renovate and update the antiquated Soviet-era housing. The Ulaanbaatar 2020 Master Plan and Development Approaches for 2030, which was approved in 2015, aims to redevelop Ulaanbaatar’s Ger district with new apartments and service centers.

Under the plan, development companies enter an agreement with the residents in the district. If 70% of the residents approve of the company’s development plan, the companies are allowed to begin the project. However, some residents are accusing these development companies of worsening homelessness in Mongolia by forcefully evicting residents. For the 30% of residents who do not approve of the development plans, there seems to be little legal protection for individual rights to housing. Many residents feel that the law doesn’t clearly state the rights of the residents during the city’s renovation of Ger districts.

Humanitarian Organization Support

Many organizations have released reports of their recommendations to Mongolia. Amnesty International, for example, emphasized the importance of protecting Mongolian residents from possibly over-zealous housing development projects. Other organizations are also encouraging the Mongolian government to expand city infrastructures to support the growing migrant population to Ulaanbaatar. Furthermore, these organizations are calling to reform Mongolia’s migrant registration system. By making it easier for migrants to register as urban residents, many believe that this will make it easier to obtain access to local social services and residential infrastructures.

Other international organizations are attempting to alleviate housing insecurity and homelessness in Mongolia. The Habitat for Humanity, for example, has built numerous homes in Mongolia. As early as 2009, Habitat for Humanity reported the building of homes for 1,500 Mongolian families.

Additionally, in July 2012, international volunteers from 12 countries came to Mongolia to build housing near Ulaanbaatar. This multinational project, “The Blue Sky Build Houses,” also worked with local volunteers to build 20 polystyrene blockhouses. These houses have excellent insulation and use less wood during construction. These houses also include energy-efficient stoves, which extend the heat generation time of coal-burning from two hours to eight hours.

 

Homelessness in Mongolia is a complex issue. While the Mongolian economic boom has created lucrative opportunities for many, it has also aided in housing insecurity because of the mass migration to Ulaanbaatar. This mass migration to the city shows the case of the lack of affordable housing in the capital city, which inevitably exacerbates the homelessness in Mongolia. Moving forward, additional efforts by the government and other international humanitarian organizations are crucial to providing affordable housing and reducing homelessness in the nation.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare in MongoliaMongolia is 19 in the largest countries in the world. During the 1990s, Mongolia transitioned from a socialist country to a market economy. This resulted in a drop in funding to healthcare, education and social security. The country has experienced economic growth since the early 2000s and is likely to see future economic development. However, Mongolia is still reliant on agriculture. Stable growth, poverty and unemployment are still prevalent struggles for the country. Below are 10 facts about health care in Mongolia.

10 Facts about Healthcare in Mongolia

  1. Mongolia provides free and universal healthcare to its citizens. Despite this, free access does not mean ensured access. The availability of basic healthcare services within certain facilities is not sufficient. Readiness is stunted by a lack of diagnostic capacity and a lack of medicine.
  2. All healthcare service centers offer preventive and curative care services for children five and under. Service readiness is only at 44.5 percent and medical supplies only at 18.9 percent. Access to essential medicines, such as cotrimoxazole syrup, paracetamol suspension and albendazole capsules, has fluctuated between 6.5 to 12.9 percent.
  3. Routine immunization occurred at 23 percent of facilities. Despite the fact that these facilities housed well-trained staff, vaccines were not always available.
  4. Family planning is offered at 30.8 percent of healthcare facilities. Counseling and family planning tool readiness only occurs at 44 percent of family health centers. There is a lack of oral and injectable contraceptives as well as condoms at many of these facilities.
  5. The Mongolian Red Cross sent teams to factories and herding communities to educate them on sanitation and disease prevention. They set up infant and elderly care workshops. These efforts helped in the reduction of smallpox, typhus, plague, poliomyelitis and diphtheria by 1981.
  6. The 2008 financial crisis caused the government to drop its healthcare expenditure from 10.7 percent to 8.6 percent where it has stayed as of the last World Health Organization recording in 2013. Total healthcare expenditure from GDP has remained around 5.7 percent since 2008.
  7. The Health Sector Strategic Master Plans services are offered at three different levels. Primary health is provided by family health centers, soum (district) health centers and inter-soum (inter-district) hospitals. Secondary health is served by the district, aimag (tribe) general, rural hospitals and private clinics. Tertiary healthcare is served by multispecialty central hospitals as well as specialized centers in Ulaanbaatar.
  8.  Life expectancy increased by five years over several decades. In 2010, the average life span was estimated at 68.1 years. This placed Mongolia at 116 among 193 World Health Organization measured member countries. So far, this number has only increased to almost 70 years.
  9. Respiratory system, digestive, genitourinary and circulatory disease are among the leading causes of death in Mongolia. The death rate of respiratory system diseases dropped from 5.77 per 1000 in 2000 to 2.72 per 1000 in 2010. The death rate of digestive system disease, however, has been steadily increasing. In 2000, it was 4.68 percent; by 2010 it was at 5.30 percent.
  10. The national maternal mortality rate between 1990-2000 was 170 per 100,000. This was considered high compared to the average of developed countries. However, this rate has since fallen to 45.5 as of 2010.

These facts about healthcare in Mongolia show that the country has a history of putting effort into improving the health of its citizenry. However, it has a way to go until it is ranked up to first-world nation status. With time, and as more nations show interest in trading for Mongolia’s resources in exchange for medicine and healthcare devices, Mongolia’s health status in the world is likely to change for the better.

– Robert Forsyth
Photo: Unsplash

Water crisis in Mongolia
Despite its vast expanse of land and natural resources, Mongolia has been facing a severe shortage of water since 2014. Hundreds of Mongolian lakes have dried up in recent years, and much of the southern land has experienced desertification. The remaining water sources are concentrated in northern Mongolia, leaving people in central and southern Mongolia unable to easily access water. Citizens of these areas must rely on groundwater to combat the issue of water scarcity.

Water quality is also a concern: many northern Mongolians live in rural settings without access to basic water supply infrastructure. In a 2013 survey, the Asia Foundation found that most rural Mongolians acquire half of their water from unprotected sources, such as lakes and rivers that lack modern water purification methods. The survey also found that most unprotected sources of water are susceptible to high levels of contamination from human waste, livestock and seasonal flooding. In the midst of this water crisis, two organizations have shown interest in aiding those without access to clean drinking water.

Aid from The Millennium Challenge Corp

One organization that has provided aid during the water crisis in Mongolia is the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The MCC provided a $350 million investment as part of the Mongolia Water Compact, signed in 2018, to supply the country with more water and improve water infrastructure throughout the capital city, Ulaanbaatar. The Mongolian government matched this investment with a $111.8 million investment to improve water purification, increase wastewater recycling and implement policies within the Mongolian government to sustain this new infrastructure. The MCC predicts that this investment will increase water supply in Mongolia’s capital city by more than 80 percent.

Tetra Tech’s Initiative

Another company working to solve the water crisis in Mongolia is Tetra Tech, an engineering services firm that specializes in water and infrastructure.  The most recent contract between Tetra Tech and Mongolia, drafted by the aforementioned Millennium Challenge Corp, grants Tetra Tech 30 million dollars for a water supply project that hopes to increase bulk water supply throughout the country and meet the growing demand in Ulaanbaatar. With this new budget, Tetra Tech hopes to install new groundwater wells, oversee a new wastewater recycling plant and manage a new water purification plant in Ulaanbaatar.

Ending the Water Crisis in Mongolia

The MCC’s generous investment combined with Tetra Tech’s experience with water supply and purification will help combat the water crisis in Mongolia. With an extended budget, Tetra Tech will have ample money to provide structurally sound purification and wastewater recycling plants for 80 percent of Mongolian citizens. As these organizations continue to make progress in this ambitious initiative, Mongolia works toward resolving the water crisis.

– Charles Nettles
Photo: Flickr

The Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act
Representatives Ted Yoho (R-FL) and Dina Titus (D-NV) along with eight other bipartisan representatives proposed the Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act. Mongolia has become a prominent ally due to its location; it lies between Russia and China, and while it is independent, it still relies on both countries for resources and support. The Third-Neighbor Trade Act is an important bill for maintaining stable trade relations with not only Mongolia but other allied nations as well.

How Trade Relations Can Strengthen Mongolia

The main purpose of this bill is to create a stronger economy within Mongolia. According to a press release from Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) on April 11, 2019, “The Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act is not just about the imports of cashmere; it is a smart policy that supports a strong, independent Mongolia that continues to be a beacon of freedom in the region and a strategic partner of the United States.”

This shows how important U.S. trade relations with Mongolia are in protecting independent freedom. The Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act comprises of four main components that will improve trade relations.

The Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act’s purpose is to improve trade relations and it should make Mongolia more economically stable. The bill plans to utilize the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Through the help of corporations and enterprises, the economy in Mongolia can securely expand. The increase in technology and science can create other forms of trade for Mongolia to offer to the other partnered nations.

Mongolia is constantly competing with China to become the largest producer of cashmere and textiles. With duty-free trade in place for Mongolia’s exports, there will be no other competition for these goods within the U.S. In return, the U.S. will expand on what goods and resources it will export to Mongolia.

Protecting Mongolia’s Resources

The second part of the bill seeks to improve U.S. exports to Mongolia which will help Mongolians survive harsh winters. Winters in Mongolia can be particularly deadly to the livestock that live there. It is particularly reliant on its livestock in terms of the industry employing one-third of its population.

Without any way of protecting their main source of income, these rural communities start spiraling towards poverty. During the time of dzud, which is the Mongolian word for winters so severe they kill plenty of livestock, many things can happen. Mainly, the livestock cannot create a significant enough reserve of fat to protect them from the harsh conditions. If Mongolia becomes a priority to receive imports from the U.S., farmers will be able to better prepare for this type of disaster.

Third, the bill will create more jobs in Mongolia, particularly for women. Women will be able to create cashmere goods within the country instead of exporting the cashmere to China for production. The bill will create 40,000 jobs for women to create cashmere products. Women are primarily dominating the garment industry in the country. These jobs will boost Mongolia’s economy by not only empowering the nation but by keeping it out of poverty.

Duty-Free Trade

Lastly, the bill will impose a duty-free trade on products containing 23 percent or more cashmere. This part of the bill has the support of two major trade businesses, The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and Mongolia’s Gobi Corporation. Through the Mongolia Third Neighbor Trade Act, “Congress would forge a stronger partnership with our friends in Mongolia and provide American consumers with better access to these high-end products,” said the CEO of AAFA. The Gobi Corporation has shops within the U.S. The Corporation believes that the U.S. will become an even stronger competitor against China as a consumer of cashmere goods.

The Mongolia Third-Neighbor Trade Act seeks to improve relations with Mongolia. These relations have been changing since 2007, putting the U.S. in danger of losing the trade advantage of China and Russia. Mongolia has provided military aid to many countries in both Afghanistan and Iran. While representatives have proposed and changed this bill over the last few years, the support of 10 Congressmen may have perfected it. The five Democrats and five Republicans working on this bill show that a united front can lower the effects of poverty.

Christina Atler
Photo: Flickr

Winters in Mongolia
Mongolia, a mountainous country that borders both Russia and China, is infamous for its harsh, dry winters. Severe winters are particularly dangerous for the 40 percent of the population that survive by herding animals. Traditionally, Mongolian herders depend on their herds for everything; they eat the animals’ meat and drink their milk, burn the waste for warmth and sell and trade skins.

Dzud

The particularly deadly combination of summer droughts and freezing winters in Mongolia is so notorious that it has a name: dzud. This is the term used to describe the phenomenon in which dry summers prevent animals from obtaining the necessary protective fat to survive the extreme temperatures of the winter, and hundreds of thousands die, plunging many herders into poverty. As of 2016, the poverty rate in Mongolia was almost 30 percent and has increased disproportionately in rural areas. The percentage of rural residents living below the poverty line in 2016 was 49 percent, compared to 33 percent in cities.

There are several different types of dzud, classified by herders depending on weather patterns. Black dzud is characterized by long periods of drought, and a white dzud involves heavy snow that obstructs normal grazing patterns. Iron dzud entails a winter with a period of thawing and refreezing which encases pastures in ice, and a cold dzud causes animals to burn through their stores of fat prematurely.

Unstable Weather Conditions

Dzud has historically been a fact of life for Mongolian herders, generally occurring once or twice each decade, but evidence suggests that the natural disaster is becoming more frequent in recent years due to changing weather patterns. Mongolia experienced three dzuds at the turn of the 21st century and another in 2010, which killed 22 percent of all livestock in the country. Most recently, 2018’s dzud killed over 700,000 livestock. Experts have linked these severe droughts to the increasing frequency of deadly dzuds and predict worse and more frequent dzuds in the coming years.

Urbanization

For herders, this prediction is highly unsettling. Many have given up their ancestral pastoral lifestyles and moved to urban areas in search of more stable work. Oyutan Gonchig moved to Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, after the dzud of 2000 killed his herd. He says many of his friends and neighbors have also moved due to similar losses, and he questions whether herding animals is even sustainable anymore.

Increasing urbanization in Mongolia has contributed to other issues. Ulaanbaatar has grown by 70 percent in the past two decades and is now home to around 40 percent of Mongolia’s residents. Those in the city’s slums, called ger, often have to deal with a lack of sanitation, water, electricity and heat, making life in the city difficult for many. The ger house around 60 percent of the city’s residents.

A Growing Mining Industry

Other former farmers and herders are looking to the mines for financial stability. The nation is endowed with large quantities of natural resources like coal, copper and gold. Many Mongolians have migrated to provinces with rich mineral deposits to work in the mines or as truck drivers ferrying resources across state borders to buyers in China. Mining accounts for 90 percent of Mongolia’s exports, so the industry is lucrative. However, heavy traffic and collisions spell danger for the more than 12,000 drivers working the Sino-Mongolian border. 51 truck drivers were killed on the road from 2015-2018.

Who is Helping?

Dzud has caused widespread poverty and instability in Mongolia, resulting in hunger and malnourishment, but several nonprofit organizations are working to combat the detrimental impact of winters in Mongolia. Mercy Corps has been working on the ground in Mongolia since 1999, providing veterinary materials and services, strategic agricultural training and weather prediction services to help herders through dzud. Mercy Corps also encourages small businesses and entrepreneurs who have begun tapping into Mongolia’s budding tourism industry.

In 2017, World Animal Protection partnered with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and USAID to provide emergency nutrition packs to 1,740 Mongolian households. The packs included vitamin supplements, milk powder and food blocks to help livestock survive the harsh winters in Mongolia.

Despite these efforts, dzud is still contributing to rising rural poverty rates and the urbanization of Mongolia. A more serious, coalition-style response must be implemented to establish long-term solutions and poverty relief for Mongolian citizens and the animals so many depend on for survival.

– Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

Facts about Poverty in Mongolia

Mongolia experienced a relatively democratic revolution in the early 1990s. As a result, the country formed a multi-party system, wrote a new constitution and even created new means of economic growth. Mongolia is abundant in resources and its economy has been supported by the country’s established mining and agricultural sector. The country also boasts some successes as it has worked to pass a variety of new legislation. For example, legislation that strengthens inclusive governance and reduces gender disparities. Despite engagement in its future, there are still challenges of continuing poverty in Mongolia. Furthermore, Mongolia faces a lack of access to equal opportunities that would improve livelihoods. Here are ten facts about poverty in Mongolia which present some of those challenges in more detail.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mongolia

  1. There has been a decrease in the prices of coal and copper – These were previously two of Mongolia’s main export products. This has influenced the decrease in growth percentage over the last decade. Compared to 11.6 percent growth in 2013, Mongolia has been experiencing decreasing economic growth in the single digits. In 2016, the growth percentage was at a low 1.2 percent.
  2. Development growth is reducing poverty rates – Though there has been a recent economic downturn, Mongolia’s overall development growth has helped to reduce poverty rates in the country. Poverty rates decreased from 38.7 percent in 2010 to 27.4 percent in 2012. That difference is greater than 11 percent.
  3. Poverty rates are barely decreasing – According to an estimation conducted by the National Statistical Office and the World Bank, Mongolia’s recent estimation in 2018 shows that 28.4 percent of the population is below the poverty line. This is a decrease of slightly over one percent from the 2016 estimate.
  4. Income inequality is continuing the cycle of poverty – What continues to reinforce poverty in Mongolia is its income inequality. Poverty rates are higher in rural areas compared to urban areas at 35.5 percent versus 23.2 percent. Subsequently, many people move to Ulaanbaatar. That is Mongolia’s most densely populated city, home to 60 percent of the population. The living conditions in the outskirts of the city lack basic services, resulting in a lower quality of life. For example, sanitation or primary education is not available there. Additionally, jobs in the larger city require more qualified skills which newcomers do not have. With these factors, poverty rates are constant and unemployment rates stagger in Ulaanbaatar.
  5. Rural areas lack access to sanitation – In urban areas, two-thirds of the population has access to working sanitation. However, in rural areas, only 36 percent of the population has access. In the poorest households of rural areas, slightly over 10 percent have access to those resources.
  6. The “100-Day Plan” aims to improve the economy – In April of 2014, Mongolia’s prime minister launched a “100-day action plan” intended to boost the economy. The plan has a 50-point agenda that covers various areas of the economy such as manufacturing and the development of small businesses, to lift more people out of poverty. An economic council oversees the action plan, jump-starts the projects and reports back to the Prime Minister. The plan works to address current needs but the country will need a sustainable strategy to benefit the economy and populations long-term.
  7. People who escaped poverty are in danger of becoming impoverished again – Even those who make it above the poverty line in Mongolia are vulnerable to slipping back under. In fact, this is a sign of unsustainable economic support. The National Statistical Office noted that this is due to the consumption level of people who get out of poverty being at the bare minimum. Their report presents that those who were above the poverty line in 2014 returned under in 2015 and 2016. This was due to sudden and negative socioeconomic decreases.
  8. There is a lack of educational opportunities – Families living in poverty, especially in rural areas, have trouble finding consistent and equal educational opportunities for their children. However, organizations like UNICEF are impacting changes in education among all students. The Basic Education Programme has assisted the Mongolian government in providing socioeconomic services to families in poor regions. Additionally, the program has helped to reduce secondary school drop-outs by 68 percent.
  9. Infant mortality is high – A vast household survey conducted in 2010 uncovered that infant mortality rates in rural areas are double that of urban areas. Additionally, children in poor households are three times more likely to be underweight than children in wealthy households. Growing up below the poverty line can influence a Mongolian child’s survival rate.
  10. Urban area populations are growing which can result in a geographical transfer of poverty rates – The World Bank stated that between 2016 and 2018, the poverty rate decreased by four percent in rural areas, though the rate is still high. It also increased by 0.1 percent in urban areas. Poverty is highly concentrated in these urban areas.

Looking to the Future

These 10 facts about poverty in Mongolia show that the country’s transition has come with many struggles in its fight to better people’s livelihoods. However, as the country gains more income, there is a chance for more diverse opportunities in job placement which will raise economic growth. As long as poverty-reduction measures are included in the development of the country, poverty rates can decrease in the future.

– Melina Benjamin
Photo: Pixabay

life expectancy in Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked nation in Central Asia bordered by China to the south and Russia to the north. It is the third-least sparsely populated country in the world with an average population of 1.9 people per square kilometer. Mongolia has been a representative democracy since the U.S.S.R. collapsed in 1990 when a protest movement forced out the pro-Soviet government. The country’s economy crashed after the withdrawal of Soviet support in the 1990s and then again after the global financial crisis of 2009. It exhibited a strong recovery a few years after each event. These top 10 facts about life expectancy in Mongolia should shed some light on the state of health in this country today.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Mongolia

  1. The average life expectancy in Mongolia is 69.9 years, ranking 160 in the world out of 224 countries listed. For comparison, the U.S. ranked 43 in life expectancy. According to figures from the World Bank, life expectancy in Mongolia had increased by 43 percent between 1960 and 2016.

  2. The top causes of premature death in Mongolia are heart disease, stroke and neonatal disorders (diseases affecting newborn children). However, neonatal disorders have decreased significantly in recent years. According to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the prevalence of neonatal disorders decreased by 13.3 percent in just 10 years from 2007 to 2017. Infant mortality overall has steadily declined since 1978 from 117.9 to 14.8 per 1,000 live births. However, heart disease and stroke have both increased during that same period by 9.3 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively.

  3. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. government foreign aid agency, cooperated with the Mongolian government on a variety of programs as part of a $284.9 million compact between 2007 and 2013. One of those programs was the Health Project, which aimed to combat various diseases, including heart disease and stroke. The project trained more than 17,000 medical professionals and provided equipment to more than 550 health facilities, which enabled those facilities to screen almost every Mongolian person over the age of 40 for various diseases.

  4. In Mongolia, there is a steep divide in health care access between urban and rural areas. Part of the reason for Mongolia’s low population density is that many people in rural areas practice a nomadic lifestyle. However, the healthcare system, which has been largely dependent upon foreign aid since dramatic cuts in government spending in the 1990s, has struggled to adapt to servicing such a mobile population. This lack of equal access to healthcare might explain why health indicators, including maternal and infant mortality rates, HIV/AIDS and others are generally worse in rural areas of Mongolia than in cities.

  5. In recent years, the Mongolian government, with the help of the Asian Development Bank, has significantly expanded access to healthcare for rural people. This involved building new health centers, and providing new equipment and training to existing centers and hospitals. Shilchin Degmid, a nomadic livestock herder, told the ADB that, in particular, “[e]mergency services have greatly improved.” In the end, it is estimated that 700,000 people will receive improved healthcare as a result of the initiative.

  6. Even in urban areas with more facilities, access to healthcare can be very difficult for people living in poverty. Whether they live in the city or the country, people in Mongolia living in poverty struggle to access affordable healthcare. According to Lindskog, in Mongolia, “population health and access to affordable health care are significantly linked to socioeconomic disparities.”
  7. Poverty affects more than 1 in 4 people. According to the Asian Development Bank, 29.6 percent of people in Mongolia live in poverty. However, extreme poverty has decreased dramatically since its peak of 26.9 percent twenty years ago. Today, 1 in 200 people in Mongolia lives in extreme poverty.

  8. One successful project in fighting poverty is the Alternative Livelihood Project (ALP). ALP has been conducted in a rural area of South Mongolia by the U.N. Development Programme and in collaboration with the local government and organized groups of local residents. The primary purpose of the project was to improve disaster preparedness and economic sustainability in the local economy. Support from the U.N.D.P. and the local government has helped local residents access training and start new businesses. Local residents were also better able to access wider markets for their existing businesses thanks to the U.N.D.P.’s connections elsewhere in the country.

  9. Pollution is a serious problem for the health of urban residents. Air pollution has been shown to significantly impact life expectancy throughout the world. Last year, UNICEF declared air pollution in the country’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, to be a child health crisis. The agency noted that Ulaanbaatar has some of the highest levels of air pollution in the world during wintertime, with pollution rates reaching as high as 133 times the safe levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

  10. One initiative working to fight air pollution is the Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project. The project is the result of the collaboration between Ulaanbaatar’s city government, the Mongolian national government, the World Bank and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Between 2010 and 2015, the project distributed 175,000 low-emission stoves to impoverished residents of Ulaanbaatar. Most of the residents living in ger or small detached homes in Ulaanbaatar experience disproportionate levels of poverty. As a result, they heat their homes in wintertime using their stove. The new stoves that the project distributed had 98 percent lower emissions than older models of stoves, reducing pollution during winter months. Furthermore, in 2016, the project helped 200 households to insulate their homes.

 

While the effort to improve life expectancy in Mongolia faces significant challenges, progress is being made. The Mongolian government is collaborating with the United Nations Development Programme on several programs to reduce poverty, including improving economic policy planning and enhancing opportunities for entrepreneurship in rural areas. Furthermore, many organizations have worked with local organizations and governments in Mongolia to improve healthcare in a variety of ways. And while some indicators, such as economic growth, have tended to fluctuate, others, such as infant mortality, have uniformly improved in recent years. Even though challenges remain, these top 10 facts about life expectancy in Mongolia show that the future is bright.

Sean Ericson
Photo: Flickr