Mongolia tries to reduce poverty in transition economy

Mongolia is carrying out a national programme to reduce poverty, and UNDP is supporting these efforts with an initiative that helps improve livelihoods in rural areas and protects the environment.

Mongolia's transition to a market economy has not been easy, and more than one in three Mongolians live in severe poverty. Rural communities are the worst affected, and many have been ravaged in recent years by repeated winter storms that ruined pastures, a natural disaster known as the dzud.

The Mongolian Action Programme for the 21st Century (MAP-21), assisted by UNDP, has provided loans of up to US$5000 in each province (aimag) for small-scale pilot projects in rural areas carried out by the private sector and civil society organizations.

The programme funded 21 projects, mainly in industry, agriculture and energy. Most loans were repaid, and the funds were then used to set up provincial Sustainable Development Funds to assist small-scale projects that create new jobs and reduce poverty.

Projects backed by the funds have aided more than 600 people, with nearly 50 gaining full-time jobs and more than 80 part-time work, reports D. Dagvadorj, national MAP-21 project coordinator.

A project in the southern province of Dundgovi has helped more than 400 people earn more income, for example, by providing job training in vegetable growing and skills ranging from cooking and tailoring to clock repair and hair dressing.

Mr. Dorj, a pensioner living on only $20 a month, learned how to grow fruits and vegetable and earn money from recycling. He now brings in about $375 a month for his family of six and was able to buy three cows.

In Umnugovi province, a local company carried out reforestation, planting 1,000 trees, along with 2,000 fruit trees and bushes. The project developed new plant varieties adapted to conditions in the Gobi desert and set up a nursery that produces 10,000 plants a year. The initiative is improving livelihoods and demonstrating ways to reduce erosion.

Dornod Co. Ltd., located on the eastern border, used a loan to transform an old building into a slaughterhouse that processes beef and lamb, creating new jobs. Of fifty people trained as chefs in Khuvsgul province in the north 20 found full-time jobs.

The programme shows how small-scale initiatives at the community level can improve livelihoods, safeguard the environment and reduce poverty.

For further information please contact Saruul (, UNDP Mongolia, or Trygve Olfarnes (, UNDP Communications Office.