Ulaanbaatar Air Pollution Mitigation project

Of the approximate 1.3 million inhabitants of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, it is estimated that almost 60% live in the ger districts. Most of them are unskilled and unemployed and living below the poverty line. They are either herders arriving from the countryside having lost their livestock to harsh weather or were dismissed with the closing of State enterprises and government offices in the early to mid-1990s.

ger district winterThe ger districts are like huge shanty areas all around the city. Streets are unpaved, water is available somewhat sporadically from collection points, rubbish is only collected irregularly and the coal-burning stoves produce a thick smoke which fills the air in winter. Limited access to medical care accompanies the unsanitary and unhygienic conditions in the ger districts. Poverty has also affected literacy and educational levels, particularly among boys who drop out of school to help support their families. Many become involved in criminal activites such as pick pocketing.

Homeless families

General living conditions in the ger districts are very poor. Severe weather brings temperatures as low as -50°C. One woman spent her winter, with temperatures regularly below 30°C, living in a wooden shed. Many families live in gers that are in very poor condition with little or no furnishings or furniture and insufficient insulation. Some families arriving from the countryside have no accommodation for the cold winter. To rent a ger in Ulaanbaatar costs between $12 and $15 per month; 44% of families earn less then $19 a month.

Poor health, malnutrition, homelessness amongst adults and children, alcoholism and domestic violence are major problems caused by poverty.

These poor families scavange the city looking for anything they can burn to heat their gers, things such as old car or truck tires and plastic bottles provide some heat and fill the air with toxic Dioxans.

The leading cause of death for both men and women in Ulaan Baatar is liver cancer and unverified reports state that 2 of 5 first pregnancies do not make it to term. That's an amazing 40%! Those babies that do make it into this toxic city are born with high blod pressure, breathing and other health disporders.  Many couples flee the city when the wife becomes pregnant, returning only after  the birth of their healthy child. 

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We cannot let bottomless human consumption shape natures fate. It is our fate, after all. - Tsetsegee Munkhbayar
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