Mongolia -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
FLANKED BY GIANT NEIGHBORS RUSSIA and China, Mongolia is a vast country with wide open steppes, desert lands and snow-capped mountains. Known as the Land of the Blue Sky, the country’s extreme temperatures mean hardship for the population, many of whose lives still revolve round herding.
Droughts, and unusually cold and snowy winters, have in the past wiped out livestock and destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of nomadic herding families.
Mongolia is a country in transition since the fall of the Soviet-style communism in 1990. The planned economy has given way to a market economy. But the transition has not been without pain: many people face low wages, unemployment and a lack of affordable housing.
The capital, Ulaanbaatar, where one third of the population lives, is growing rapidly. The growth is especially fast in the outskirts where people from the inner city as well as rural-urban migrants have settled in “ger” areas. (Gers are traditional Mongolian tents.) More than 30 per cent of Mongolians live below the poverty level. In Ulaanbaatar, poverty is highest among migrants and those living in ger settlements, according to a United Nations-funded survey. In addition, these ger residents face problems of overcrowding as well as a lack of access to water supply and health services.
HFH Mongolia was set up in 1999 to address the need for decent and affordable housing. It has affiliates operating in Ulaanbaatar, Darkhan and Edernet, and two program centers in Tsetserleg and Arvaikheer. Starting in July 2007, five new program centers are being set up in, Bagakhangai, Baganuur, Khakhorin, Nalaikh and Zuunmod.
Habitat has rolled out Save & Build and Save & Renovate housing microfinance models to help families build or renovate their homes. Under Save & Build, families form groups to save for their new houses, with Habitat and its partners matching their savings to enable a few houses to be built at a time. Habitat home partners also contribute sweat equity, or their own labor, to build their own houses as well as those of others in the savings group. The Save & Renovate model enables home partners to make specific home improvements for a small loan.
A typical Habitat home measures up to 36 sq. m. in size and is constructed with bricks or concrete blocks, wood, concrete roof sheeting and Styrofoam for insulation against the harsh winter. Toilets are built separately.
Construction usually takes about 20 days, though building is only possible from May to October each year. The average loan repayment period is about four to six years with home partners repaying about US$24-30 a month.
HFH Mongolia has built partnerships with international agencies and nongovernmental organizations to extend the reach of its programs. Its partners include the Korea International Cooperation Agency, Vision Fund Mongolia, World Vision, United Nations Development Program, the British Embassy and the Norwegian Lutheran Mission.
Mongolia is a favorite destination for Global Village teams with Habitat hosting volunteers from countries such as Australia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom and the United States.
• In April 2007, HFH Mongolia and Vision Fund Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding to build 100 new homes and renovate 100 houses in the capital Ulaanbaatar and city of Erdenet.
• HFH Mongolia celebrated the milestone of the 500th house built, in Darkhan, in September 2006. Among guests present were families, HFH Mongolia board members and staff, HFHI staff and government officials.
• Mongolia has partnered with Korea International Cooperation Agency to construct 150 houses and tied up with World Vision to build 50 houses.
• For the Building on Faith program in September 2006, more than 45 volunteers from seven churches helped build homes in Darkhan and Erdenet.
• In 2006, HFH Mongolia partnered with the local authorities in Darkhan and Erdenet, and Deseret Charities in the capital Ulaanbaatar to construct water wells, benefiting 300 families.
• Mongolia has hosted Global Village teams of volunteers from countries such as Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and United Kingdom.
• In June 2006, students from the Ulaanbaatar International School built in Kombinat and Toilgoit districts of Ulaanbaatar.
Population: 2,951,786 (July 2007 est.)
Area: 1,564,116 sq. km.
Ethnic groups: Mongol (mostly Khalkha) 94.9%, Turkic (mostly Kazakh) 5%, other (including Chinese and Russian) 0.1% (2000)
Languages: Khalka Mongol 90%, Turkic, Russian (1999)
Religions: Buddhist Lamaist 50%, none 40%, Muslim 4%, Christian and Shamanist 6% (2004)
Updated September 2007