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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

Infrastructure projects in the Republic of Georgia

The Republic of Georgia has been doing fairly well despite a shaky recovery after gaining independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. The Republic of Georgia and the Russian Federation are still important trade partners despite past conflicts. Trade between Russia and Georgia accounted for 14.5 percent of Georgia’s exports in 2017.  The government has recognized this and, in 2017, it laid out a 3-year plan outlining infrastructure projects in the Republic of Georgia. Its goal is not only to increase the ease of trade but also increase the standard of living for Georgians.

Infrastructure Projects in the Republic of Georgia

Railroads, roadways, seaports, airports, pipelines and electrical transmission lines are all in need of either an upgrade or an overhaul. Infrastructure projects in the Republic of Georgia are being handled organized by the Georgian government, but they are being financed by companies and countries all around the world. For example, Japan signed $38 million agreement to fund investments for improvements on one of Georgia’s main highways.

Much of this investment is organized and promoted by the Georgian International Investment Agency. The agency was developed and established in 2002 outside of direct government control due to the laws at the time. In 2015, the agency was moved under the direct control of the office of Prime Minister as a result of its growing importance and investments. The job of the agency is to ensure that investors and the nation are treated fairly.

Western Trade Partners

As the government of Georgia is seeking closer ties to the west by looking to join both the European Union and NATO, it has formed an important trading partnership with the United States. USAID has been working with Tetra Tech, an international engineering firm, on infrastructure projects in the Republic of Georgia, specifically in the energy sector.

USAID along with Tetra Tech have been working together with the government of Georgia, and other nations in the Caucasus region, on the Georgia Power and Gas Infrastructure Oversight Project (PGIOP). The project includes the construction of 119 kilometers of gas pipelines and the replacement of substations and power lines that were damaged or dismantled during the 1992 Georgian Civil War.

Improved Infrastructure Benefits Trade

Georgia’s other neighbors, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Armenia, Bulgaria and Ukraine, are all important trade partners that share either a land or sea border with the Republic of Georgia. Improving infrastructure in Georgia will facilitate important trade between the county and its neighbors, helping the economies of all countries involved. The World Bank is working with the government of Georgia to help improve the infrastructure needed for this trade.

The World Banks has been investing millions into the Republic of Georgia not only to help stimulate trade within Georgia’s sphere of influence but also though the Caucasus Transit Corridor. The area is an important corridor between Asia and Europe. Modern infrastructure will help facilitate trade across the Black Sea and through all of the nations that border it. Both natural gas and trade goods will need to move faster as consumption increases.

Georgia is a nation tucked in a region with ever-growing tensions. The wars in Iraq and Syria are not far away. Its neighbors Armenia and Azerbaijan are in a constant state of alert. Russia, Turkey and Iran are all beginning to flex their muscles on the world stage more freely. Through improving infrastructure projects in the Republic of Georgia, the country can hope to become too important for any side to lose, allowing it to continue to grow freely and democratically.

Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Unsplash

USAID to Develop Middle East Clean Energy

On June 10, 2013, Tetra Tech, Inc. announced that it had been awarded a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development to assist in clean energy development in the Middle East. Tetra Tech will use the $400 million multiple-award to provide technical assistance for clean energy program development in “critical priority” countries. Five U.S. based companies, including two small businesses, will share the five-year contract.

Tetra Tech will partner with USAID to create new strategies in addressing the demand for clean energy services in countries deemed “critical priority”. Currently, five nations have been named as participating in the project- Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, South Sudan and Yemen. The contract does allow for more countries to be added later.

The contract specifies Tetra Tech’s responsibility to assist in improving governance structures to support clean energy development, assess the environmental implications of carrying out the new services and to encourage participation from the private sector in clean energy strategies. They will seek to reduce global warming by promoting the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. Additionally, Tetra Tech has been contracted to help national and local governments improve their capacity in the energy sector to cope with natural and man-made disasters.

Tetra Tech, based in California, has over 350 offices worldwide. Many of their international contracts support development in South America and the Middle East. They currently are participating in four other USAID initiatives in Afghanistan including engineering support, electricity service improvement and land reform. Tetra Tech specializes in programs focused on developing water, environment, energy, infrastructure and natural resources.

– Allana Welch

Sources: Financial Post, ReNews, USAID, Tetra Tech
Photo: Tetra Tech