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SOCIAL ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN MONGOLIA

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POVERTY

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is responsible for formulating and implementing social policy measures. The National Poverty Alleviation Committee (NPAC), chaired by the head of the Cabinet Secretariat, consists of State Secretaries of relevant line Ministries. The Poverty Alleviation Programme Office (PAPO) is the Secretariat to the NPAC. The Poverty Alleviation Fund Council (PAFC) is responsible for overseeing the allocation of resources to the Aimags/provinces and Ulaanbaatar city. The Council consists of members of relevant ministries and NGOs. Poverty Alleviation Councils (PACs) consisting of local Governors and NGOs operate in all aimags and Ulaanbaatar at the Aimag and Sum/District levels. Vulnerable Group Organizations (cooperatives), Women's Organizations, and NGOs are also involved.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans

While absolute poverty and unemployment are a universal concern, Mongolia's specific national goal is to reduce poverty in Mongolia to 10% by the year 2000. To accomplish this, the Government of Mongolia introduced a six-year, multi-sectoral National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NPAP) in June 1994. The programme is designed to mobilize both national and external resources more effectively for the purpose of considerably reducing poverty in Mongolia by the year 2000. The NPAP addresses poverty in a wide sense, going beyond simple income concerns to address issues related to access to social services and improving opportunities for improvement of overall human development. It also aims to prevent further increases in poverty through expanding opportunities and integrating poverty into economic and social policy-making. Homeless street children will be under social care, and poverty among women will be reduced.

Status

Presently, one of six households, or one out of six persons is surviving on incomes below the poverty line. The official poverty lines, referred to as the per capita Minimum Living Level (MLL), were reestablished by the Mongolian Government in December 1995. They are: Tug 8000 per person per month for urban households and Tug. 6900 per person per month for rural households. Urban poverty is higher than rural poverty in Mongolia. The urban poor include a substantial number of health, education sector workers and factory workers. Herders who own a small number of animals, pensioners, and female-headed households are identified as vulnerable groups.
Unemployment has only become a problem in Mongolia since 1990, and the unemployed are demarcated as a vulnerable group. The association between poverty and unemployment is very significant. Nearly 60 percent of the unemployed fall under the poverty line. As stated in the World Bank survey, poor unemployed persons are, on average, younger and live in households which have more children and fewer workers and often live with other household members who are unemployed. 75 percent of the unemployed are below 35 years of age, a result of the young age structure of the population and lack of opportunities for them. Major reasons for youth unemployment are the loss of job opportunities due to the deep economic crisis, low rate of salaries, lack of job opportunities related to their professional skills, and low educational levels.

Challenges

Access to primary health care, clean water and sanitation is still a serious problem. The introduction of patients' fees and the reduction in real government spending since 1991 led to a rise in the cost of access to health services among the poor. Maternal and infant mortality rates are rising, particularly for poor households in outlying areas, in large part due to the deterioration in health.

Capacity-Building, Education, Training, and Awareness-Raising

The Government is involved in the training of Government and NGO personnel at all levels and the training of provincial governors and officials responsible for population issues.

Financing

Domestic resources: The Government has committed US$240,000 to the Poverty Alleviation for Vulnerable Groups Project. US$290,000 was also committed to support the management of the NPAP at both Central and Local levels. The Government has been making contributions to various activities which are related to Poverty Alleviation, mainly through ministries and NGOs.

External resources: About US$55 million has been committed/earmarked in direct support of the NPAP. A key funder is UNDP; others are IFAD, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the New Zealand Government.

Cooperation

Mongolia has participated in the Regional Poverty Alleviation Programme for Asia and the Pacific since 1995. The Regional Poverty Alleviation Programme for Asia and the Pacific aims to complement regional and national efforts by an integrated set of interventions. These include building the capacity for poverty alleviation at the government and community levels; encouraging participatory approaches through empowerment of the poor; promoting and replicating successful community based poverty alleviation initiatives; improving the design and implementation of programmes at the local level, and establishing standardized cost-effective monitoring systems for human development and poverty across the region.

This information is based on Mongolia's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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DEMOGRAPHICS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Department of Population Policy and Social Welfare at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is the unit body most directly concerned with demographic issues. 

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies, and Plans

The Government's view on population growth and fertility levels is that they are too low and it therefore promotes measures to raise the rate of population growth and fertility levels. The national goal is to maintain the average annual population growth rate at no less than 1.8 percent.
Up to 1990, policy measures were directed towards increasing the population. Since then, more emphasis has been given to maternal and child health, birth spacing, childbearing age, and infant mortality. In 1991, the President of Mongolia gave his approval of the "Population Guidelines" which emphasized human resources as the basic input to development. The Guidelines stress the stabilization of the population growth rate, linking biological optimal potential for reproduction with psychological, maternal and child health factors. In 1992, the Ministry of Population Policy and Labor was established and an officer was appointed to every aimag and city government to deal with population problems. In 1995, Mongolia promulgated a Population Policy which addresses basic issues of human life such as poverty alleviation, reducing unemployment by creating job opportunities and tightening the relationships among social groups. The main goal of the Population Policy of Mongolia for the period up to 2010-15 is to create conditions for maintaining the average annual population growth rate at no less than 1.8 percent, reducing the mortality rates of infants and children under five years of age by one-third and the maternal mortality rate by 50 percent from 1990 levels, and increasing life expectancy at birth. As stated in the Population Policy Document, the policy of ensuring the interrelationship between population and sustainable development shall be aimed at creating the conditions for the well-being of the population on the basis of securing the balance between the environment, population and sustainable development.

Capacity-Building, Education, Training, and Awareness-Raising

The following training and research centers in the field of population have been established:

The following training courses have been conducted:

Cooperation

Since 1992, the UNFPA intensified its support to Mongolia and allocated more than 4 million US$ to implement five projects in the field of population-related activities. The UNDP has also provided assistance in the field of population activities. The first international seminar on Population Policy was organized in 1993. In-service training and seminars for high- and mid-level government officials have been organized annually since 1993. The Department of Population Policy and Social Welfare is responsible for coordinating regional and international cooperation in the field of population.

This information is based on Mongolia's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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HEALTH

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is responsible for dealing with problems of national as well as local concern. Also, the Departments of Health and Social Welfare at the aimag/province Governor's Office are responsible for dealing with related problems of local concern.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies, and Plans

Access to primary health care, clean water and sanitation in Mongolia is still a problem. Human health, especially maternal and child health, is of great concern in government policy and an essential component in the Government's socio-economic development strategy.

Since 1994, a health insurance system was introduced in Mongolia. Approximately 98.5 percent of the population is included in the health insurance programme. The public health service system has different administrative, financial and organizational structures with the aim of improving the quality of services at all levels. For this purpose, the system of family doctors with existing services at clinical institutions has been adopted to provide primary health care such as:

Besides these, health care policy deals with treatment, supplying basic medicine and providing systematic treatment of common diseases.

Pogrammes and Projects

WHO has developed a Regional Healthy Cities programme. In Mongolia, committees have been established in Ulaanbaatar and Darhan to prepare plans to be presented at 1997 Workshops. Action plans are for improvements in the factors that effect health, such as water supply, sanitation, air quality, food, etc.

Status

There were 26 doctors, 65 nurses and 96 hospital beds per 1000 persons in 1995 but the distribution and allocation of medical services is uneven between urban and rural areas. For instance, there are 56 doctors available per 1000 persons in Ulaanbaatar city, but only 15 doctors in rural areas (NDB, 1996). The decline in the health sector continues due to the lack of capacity in the rural medical establishments. Because of financial constraints, 90 percent of hospitals have a shortage of electricity, drinking water, communications and transport facilities which result in a low quality of medical services. There is a shortage of medicine, medical facilities and medical equipment in medical institutions. The former Ministry of Health has prepared a list of 200 essential medicines, but only 70 percent of these medicines are available.

This information is based on Mongolia's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

Click here to go to the Health and health-related statistical information from the World Health Organization.

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EDUCATION

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The management of the current educational system is governed by the Educational Law of 1995 and educational planning, procedures and objectives are regulated by the Minister for Enlightenment. The Mongolian educational network is covered by the following legislative acts:

1996 was designated as a "Year of Education" and had its origins in a set of legislative initiatives undertaken by Parliament in 1995. The State Education Policy, the Education Law, the Higher Education Law, and the Primary and Secondary Education Laws represent collectively a renewed commitment to establishing education as a top priority in the overall development policy of Mongolia.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies, and Plans

The female population of Mongolia represents 50.3% of the total population. Mongolia became a State Party to the United Nation's Convention Against the Discrimination in Education in 1964. The Government of Mongolia has been implementing the objective of providing women with education step by step and on a systematic basis. After the Revolution of 1921, the new Government implemented policies to ensure equal rights for women, and to provide educational opportunities for females and eradicate illiteracy among them. Various methods have been used for policy implementation in this area. Some of them include:

Due to this policy, Mongolia became one of the countries in the world which eradicated illiteracy among its adult population, and it was awarded UNESCO's Literacy Prize in 1970. As the State has provided favorable conditions for women in acquiring education at all levels, today women constitute the majority of those enrolled at all educational institutions. In 1995, the proportion of the enrollment of female students in schools at all levels was as follows:

In spite of the high rates of women's enrollment at all levels, the possibilities for women to upgrade their educational achievements after completing secondary school, through correspondence courses and evening schools are limited. As women constitute the majority of teaching staff in schools almost at all levels, they play an important role in the development of the educational level of the population.

Programmes and Projects

In June 1997, the Mongolian Government adopted the Education sector reform guidelines for 1997-2000 which contain the national strategy on education. The Ministry of Science and Education (MOSE) for the implementation of this programme. In July 1997, the National Programme on Informal Education Development, sponsored by UNESCO, was inaugurated and the the National Centre for Informal Education established. There are also initial efforts to implement distance education, which includes the use of radio, TV channels and the distribution of books. The Environmental Public Awareness Program has some sustainable development awareness projects. An example is the blue box recycling project in Ulaanbaatar.

Status

The Mongolian Government pays special attention to the educational status of the population. The Education Law of the country classifies the educational structure as pre-school, primary, secondary and higher education. Until 1990, the state budget provided funds for the educational system of the country. Since 1990, the Government authorized the private sector also to establish educational institutions of various types and currently, there are state and private educational institutions. The school enrollment age between seven and eight years and the primary education is up to the 6th grade in formal schools. Secondary education is classified into two grades, as general and professional secondary and it is also defined as grades 7 and 8 as middle classes and 9 and 10 as upper classes. Higher education has a significant impact on generating changes in society because of its specific teaching, research and activities related to the public. Today, some 26,925 students are graduating from 59 public and private higher institutions. Special attention is paid to formal school education as well as to non-formal education.

As of 1994, women constitute between 10 and 42% of the leading positions in NGOs such as the Federation of Mongolian Trade Unions, Mongolian Youth Association, Association of Disabled Persons.

Challenges

Nevertheless Access to education is becoming increasingly difficult for the poor. The more people who access educational opportunities, the less access there will be for impoverished people. Many families cannot afford to pay the cost of meals in school. In some families, there is a lack of clothing supplies. Therefore, "child A" will wear the boots and the coat to go to school. The next day, "child B" will take its turn and so forth. The heating and financing for schools has decreased. Some schools have deteriorated physically, so parents do not send their children to school. Some herders do not send their children to school because there are no dorms.

Specialized vocational training also plays a key role in training the manpower needed for national economic development. However, today Mongolian vocational and technical education and special attention is not cost effective. Since 1990, there have been positive changes in vocational and technical education and special attention has been paid to training highly skilled workers/craftsmen. Some of these institutions have now merged and the number of students in vocational schools has decreased. Since 1993, there has been a drop of 5,705 students and the total enrollment equaled 17,382. Training in these vocational centres is mainly limited to agriculture, construction and industry and has been subsidized by central and local budgets.

Capacity-Building, Education, Training, and Awareness-Raising

There are many projects being undertaken which provide innovative approaches to educating and raising awareness of families and local communities and to enhancing their participation in planning and implementing education-related action plans. Some examples are:

In addition participation and the legal regulations of family and community-based organizations have been clarified in the following documents:

There are a number of efforts underway to develop partnerships among educators, scientists, Governments, NGOs, business and industry, youth, the media and other major groups to communicate the key messages of sustainable development. Following is a Summary, as of June 13, 1997, of the Government Environmental Public Awareness Projects approved by the Environment Public Awareness Programme Grants Committee:

No: Project Title: Ministry: Funding:
1 Content of Teaching Materials of Ecological Education Education $4,850
2 Ecological Education Centre Education $9,480
3 Ecological TV Olympiad Education $3,670
4 Environment and Law Nature and Environment $4,600
5 Public Awareness of Strictly Protected Areas Nature and Environment $4,500
6 State of Environment of Mongolia Nature and Environment $3,000
7 Bogdkhan Information and Public Awareness Centre Nature and Environment $3,500
8 Introduction of MNE of Mongolia Nature and Environment $2,200
9 Treaties and Conventions to which Mongolia is Party Nature and Environment $8,000
10 Weekly Public Awareness Day Nature and Environment $2,200
11 Water Laws and Regulations Nature and Environment $3,000
12 National Action Plan to Combat Desertification Nature and Environment $3,000
13 Environment, Nature and the Times Nature and Environment $3,000
  Total Projects: 13   $55,000
      $4,231

In addition, as of 24 March 1997, 34 NGO, and 15 Rural NGO, Environmental Awareness Projects, had been approved by the Grants Committee. These projects have a duration from 2 to 8 months and cover issues such as information on forest fire prevention for secondary school children, information on endangered animals, the promotion of natural fertilizers, protecting the Gobi from desertification, etc. The grants that are awarded range from $1,500 to $6,000.

Financing

Percentage of total budget expenditures on education spent on salaries in 1980 was 28.6 and slightly increased until 1991. However, by 1994 it had decreased significantly.

This information is based on Mongolia's submission to the 5th and 6th Sessions of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997 and 1998. Last update: 18 February 1998.

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HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development are the responsible coordinating bodies for human settlement issues. 

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations

The new Constitution, in conformity with human rights, enhances the right of Mongolian citizens to choose their place of living, go abroad, and return.
Priority is given to the development of the less developed regions in order to encourage urban-rural and rural-rural migration. Consequently, several laws and regulation related to migration and social security have been implemented.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies, and Plans

Decreasing the concentration of the population in the capital and larger cities, and developing satellite cities and regional centers is a national priority. There has been a change in the outdated authorities' guidelines which previously controlled the movement of the population and protects the people from exploitation. 

Status

Recent population distribution is characterized by an increase in the urban population, an increase in the population density in the forest-steppe zone and the stabilization of the rural population. This trend will continue further. At present, nearly a quarter of the population is concentrated in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar, (600,000) where the population is 6 times higher than that of Darhan (100,000), the second largest city, and 10 times higher than in the Erdenet (60,000), the third largest city.

Generally, migration is from rural to urban areas and a high rate of urbanization is mainly associated with the lack of primary health care, uneven distribution of education and job opportunities, etc. The movements are caused mainly for economic reasons. In rural areas, the cost of living is higher than that in the cities, living conditions are very poor, there is no electricity in remote som/bag areas, and there is an increase of theft of livestock near country border and remote areas.

Challenges

There is a need for human settlement policy in Mongolia. Rural and urban development should not be undertaken in isolation from each other, and therefore comprehensive planning should be taken. To cope with rapid urbanization, the Government should create favorable conditions for private sector investment in smaller towns and cities and require support mechanisms, such as physical and social infrastructure, and favorable fiscal and monetary policies. The following issues are considered important:

This information is based on Mongolia's submission to the 5th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development, April 1997. Last update: 1 April 1997.

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