Mongolia is a landlocked country, lying between Russia in the north and China in the south. Around 3.3 million people live in Mongolia, making it the world’s most sparsely populated sovereign nation. The capital Ulaanbaatar is home to roughly half of the country’s population.
Mongolia has a rich and diverse history that goes back to prehistoric times. Around 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic, and horses are an integral part of their culture. Since its independence in 1992, the country has seen a remarkable economic growth. However, Mongolia suffers from the effects of climate change, which in turn affect education, nutrition and poverty levels.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Mongolia since 2000.
68% of children in rural areas attend early childhood education, compared to 89% in the capital Ulaanbaatar. However, it is difficult to reach children of nomad communities. To solve this, the government provides housing next to schools, and also offers remote classes and e-learning for nomadic families.
There is also a risk of children not being able to go to school due to the consequences of climate change. Finally, there is a lack of accessibility of education for children with disabilities and ethnic minority groups.
Poverty is still widespread in Mongolia. 28% of the population lives in poverty. Surprisingly, many of these poor people live in urban areas rather than in rural areas. Indeed, as people in rural areas have to face difficult weather conditions, many move to cities. However, they move to the outskirts of a city, where the quality of life is very low. They search for jobs for which they are underqualified, in one of the most polluted cities in the world. Children are most vulnerable to this poverty.
21% of the population is undernourished. 80% of the agriculture in the country is focused on raising livestock.
However, this livestock is in danger, due to Dzuds, a phenomenon specific to Mongolia when cattle die due to starvation in severe climatic conditions. This affects the herders, who are dependent on their livestock.
Children in Mongolia are even more vulnerable to malnutrition, 9% of children under 5 suffer from stunting, which is a low height for age.