Darkhan is the third largest city in Mongolia, located in the Darkhan-Uul Province in the north of the country. The city has a population of 97,000. The city was built in the 1960s to ease the migration pressure on the capital Ulaanbaatar.
In the province of Darkhan, 33% of the population lives in poverty. Children are most vulnerable to this poverty, as well as being affected by living conditions in the ger (Mongolian tents) districts around the city, and the growing effects of climate change.
Since 2008, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Darkhan.
An increasing number of people move to Darkhan in search of a better life, but 40% of the city’s population ends up living in gers (tents) at the border of the city.
They have very limited access to resources and infrastructure. As the gers can’t be connected to the city’s heating system, people heat their gers with coal stoves. Furthermore, they have to collect water at public wells. Ger districts increase inequality in the capital, and many of the people living in the gers are unemployed. Interestingly, Mongolians consider living in gers as part of their culture and are often reluctant to leave these living conditions. But children suffer from the lack of resources and the harsh conditions.
Temperatures have increased three times faster since 1940 than the global average (by 2.25 °C). Mongolia, due to its ecosystems, is vulnerable to climate change risks, both in rural and urban areas. People burn coal to get through the harsh winters, making the capital one of the world’s most polluted cities. This burning affects emissions, which in turn foster harsh winters, and it becomes a vicious circle. The nomads depend mainly on livestock, which is also highly affected by climate change. Climate change affects poverty, nutrition, education; and children are most vulnerable to these changes.