Main challenges faced by Ulaanbaatar city (№2)


2017-08-31 12:29 GMT+8
Photo credit D.Javkhlantugs

ULAANBAATAR (GoGo Mongolia) - An overview of the three biggest challenges facing to Ulaanbaatar city. 

The first general plan of the Ulaanbaatar city which based on the scientific research was developed in 1954. At that time, the city was planned for only 125 thousand people. However, the city has expanded year by year and now it's home to 1.3 million people. As the city expands, a great number of challenges are facing. Thus, it might be seen that population growth appears to be the key driver to all of the urban challenges faced by Ulaanbaatar today. 


Air pollution has soared to hazardous levels in the most areas of Ulaanbaatar city, exceeding 120 times the limit, as compared with the World Health Organization safe level of 25. Levels of PM2.5 particulates, which are the most hazardous to health, reach 3000 micrograms per cubic meter in heavily polluted areas of the city. 

Every winter, residents of Ulaanbaatar city suffer from hazardous levels of air pollution caused by rising ger districts, where people live with no access to the central heating system and rely on coal-burning stoves to survive temperatures that fall below minus 35 degrees Celsius. 80 percent of air pollution comes from those ger district households. 

The result of the study conducted by the end of 2015 reveals that Ulaanbaatar city has 214 thousand ger district households, of which 30 percent of them burn items that are extremely harmful to human health such as, animal fat, plastic ware, and old tires. Those are families with low income, fighting with cold to survive. 

In addition, parents spend more money on their children`s health than their income as child mortality per year exceeds thousands in recent years. 

As of Jun 2016, infant mortality and children under-five mortality were estimated at 810 and 953 respectively in Ulaanbaatar city. Experts have concluded that increase in infant mortality was caused by measles and respiratory diseases.

Air pollution impact study showed that air pollution is causing around 9.2 percent of mortality, 39.9 percent of lung cancer, 52.9 percent of respiratory tract illness and 24.1 percent of childhood respiratory diseases.

However, we have not found the best solution to reduce the pollution until today. We got only two choices, move the ger districts out of the city and replace them with housings or expand the city and move it to other location. 


The ger district is the biggest contributor to soil pollution followed by factories, garbage and markets (oils, gasoline). 61 percent of the city population (approximately 793 thousand people) live in ger-districts. Majority of them use outdoor toilets by digging a hole in the ground and building a small shelter, either made of wood or covered by sack. More than 200 thousand outdoor toilets exist in Ulaanbaatar today. 

A person average approximately 200 grams of poop and 1.2 liters of urine per day, according to the World Health Organization. If one household has four people, they eliminate 720 grams of poop and 4.3 liters of urine per day. Thus, around 1 million liters of feces pollute the soil through the outdoor toilets every day. 

Sulfur and ammonia produced from outdoor toilet belong to a category of toxic gases and stand 4th in toxicity ranking. Ammonia is harmful to human health, affects the fetus and causes birth defects. Also, it causes infertility. 

According to the study, 89 percent of soil pollution of the Ulaanbaatar city contains substances that harmful to health. Intestinal and infectious diseases tend to increase which directly related to the bacteria in the soil. In 2017, 50-60 percent of the children in hospital were treated due to intestinal infections. 

Outdoor toilets today are causing children to catch diseases and restricting them from growing healthy. We need to put an end to using wooden toilets and replace the health and sanitation infrastructure. 


Mongolia listed one of the world's least-densely populated country at its 1,564,116 square kilometers (603,909 sq mi) with a population of around three million people. Although half of its population lives in a city that lacks good urban planning. As we mentioned before, the city was first created to host 125 thousand people.

Any person who is wealthy and knows higher officials builds whatever and wherever they wanted. Most of them build apartment blocks or office buildings with no parking lots, children playgrounds, pedestrians, and open spaces to sun

For each of Ulaanbaatar`s 1.3 million inhabitants, there are 1.6 square meters of green space. However, The World Health Organization has suggested that every city should have a minimum of 9 square meters of green space per person 

Ph.D. G.Gantuga recommended the best measure for decentralization is to move the city. 


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