Demographic Changes in Mongolia
Between 1999 and 2002, Mongolia lost more than 10 million animals, almost a third of its domestic herds to the dzud. The dzud is a natural disaster of prolonged extreme cold. For many traditional Mongolians the dzud threatens their way of life. Now each year up to 5% of the population are leaving the land and heading for the cities, particularly the capital Ulaanbaatar.
Demographic Changes in Mongolia
Host: The Urtuu Mukhar valley lies to the West of the Mongolian
capital Ulaan Baatar. It takes its name from the mounted express
mail station that the Great Khan set up here in the 13th century.
Seven centuries later the valley still has no road and no
electricity and Mongol herders live a traditional lifestyle closely
dependent on their animals and the land. Dorjmaa Tugchin and
her family moved here in 1970. At 70 years old Dorjmaa is the
matriarch of the family and knows the valley well.
Tugchin Dorjmaa: This was the most beautiful place. Ours was the only Gher. The
grass was high and the water was clean.
Host: Dorjmaa and her family live in a traditional Mongolian Gher.
Arguably the most perfectly designed tent ever made, it’s
insulated with rolled wool - felt - a natural barrier against
extreme cold. Mongolians heat their Ghers by burning wood and
dried animal dung. It’s not very efficient and has adverse
consequences for the soil and water cycles. But when survival is
an issue, ecological damage is not necessarily the first thing
T. Enkhtuvshin: Out here you have to work hard and rely on your self. You can’t
rely on others or just sit and wait for help. Each person
determines how their life will be.
Host: Survival has become even more of an issue within the last
decade, as Mongolian herders like Dorjmaa and her family have
lived through increasing incidence of what Mongolian’s call
Dzud. Dzud is a disaster, a climatic event of prolonged extreme
cold which some scientists put down to global climate change.
Between 1999 and 2002 Mongolia lost more than 10 million
animals almost a third of its domestic herds to the Dzud. For the
traditional nomadic peoples of Mongolia the Dzud threatens their
way of life. And it comes at a time when increasing numbers up
to 5% of the population each year are leaving the land and
heading for the cities particularly the capital Ulaan Baatar. This
demographic shift is fundamentally changing Mongolia.
Formerly part of Soviet Bloc, Mongolia’s been moving toward a
free market economy since 1990. Central Ulaan Baatar is
beginning to look like a modern metropolis. But for the rural
migrants searching for a better life, home here is most often a
Gher in the growing, chaotic shanty-towns of the city. Although
no one knows for sure, it’s estimated that 60% of the capital’s
population live in the unplanned Gher Areas. So many people
bringing their nomadic customs to the city is having a major
impact on the environment. To try to regulate where the former
nomads live the Government has enacted a new land
privatization law and is trying to provide basic services to
Tsagaan Scar is the Mongolian Lunar New Year. Shatar,
following the custom of the season, is ceremonially taking the
first steps in the New Year for good luck. Like many other
Mongolians, Shatar and his family moved from the countryside
to one of the expanding Gher Areas that have sprung up all
around Ulaan Baatar.
D. Shatar: Living conditions in the countryside are difficult. There is no
infrastructure or services and lately we experienced Dzud and
many animals died the main reason to move to the cities are to
find jobs and educate the children.
Sh. Altangerel: Today half of the Mongolian population lives in Ulaan Baatar
City. Officially there are 800,000 people, unofficially more than
one million. 60% of the population lived in the Gher areas. That
means 600,000 people 85,000 to 90,000 households living in the
Gher areas with no access to basic services. This is 90,000 stove
pipes, 90,000 open toilets.
Demographic Changes in Mongolia
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