16 · Dec · 2019
Over the last two decades, Mongolia’s capital city has swelled in size. In 2004 alone, nearly 70,000 individuals moved from their rural homes to Ulaanbaatar, with many settling in the city’s outlying ger districts. According to area officials these ger districts account for 80% of the city’s air pollution.
In January of 2018, concentrations of breathable airborne particles, reached more than 133 times the level the World Health Organization deems safe. High pollution levels have led to calls for change. In one of Mongolia’s largest demonstrations in years, around 15,000 people marched against air pollution.
Government officials agree there is a problem, According to Batbayasgalan Jantsan, the city’s deputy mayor in charge of green development “The state has to protect its citizens from environmental pollution”.
Last year, In an effort to decrease air pollution, the government decided to ban migration, and recently extended the ban until 2020. Yet, many feel the migration ban is not enough.
Officials at the city, provincial and national level are now working on a program to encourage citizens to migrate from Ulaanbaatar to the provinces. “Creating jobs in the countryside is important. This is what citizens want. They say, ‘I want to go back home, but I need a job’,” Batbayasgalan said.
While fostering rural development has popular support, more than half of the country’s GDP is generated in Ulaanbaatar. Last year when unemployment in the city was 8.7%, in rural areas it was as high as 10.7%.
Read the original: Pollution Pushes Mongolia’s Herders to Reconsider City Life
Published on September 14th, 2018 on The Guardian
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