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Residents in Ulaanbaatar’s ger areas desire to move to apartments in the central district where living conditions are better; and yet they lack the capacity to do so. With support from CDIA, the city government is now developing affordable housing and urban renewal solutions to enhance the quality of life in ger areas.
Home to around 1.4 million people, Mongolia’s capital is struggling with urbanization. Over 60 % of its population live in portable dwellings called gers. The 90 km2 ger area in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar is inhabited by 800,000 low to middle-income residents pulled into the city by the prospect of a better life, or pushed off their land by desertification or extreme weather conditions.
In ger areas, there is lack of basic infrastructure such as paved roads, efficient heating, stable electricity, sufficient water and sanitation, public spaces, and economic amenities. In addition, the people’s health conditions are seriously affected by coal stove heating and poor solid waste treatment, which further leads to soil erosion.
In contrast, the living conditions in the city’s central district are far better with apartment blocks that have access to adequate utility services.
Almost 75 % of the residents are willing to move to apartment units and have improved living conditions, if only affordable options are available to them. However, with their low purchasing power and the market tilted towards the higher income segments, affordable housing is unlikely without public financial and institutional support.
To address these issues, CDIA supported the local government in 2015 in developing strategies to improve housing conditions in gers. It specifically assisted the city in reviewing the existing urban development strategy, identifying pilot areas and formulating local infrastructure development plans and integrated affordable housing options, as well as establishing sustainable institutional and legal frameworks to support it.
Three years since then, CDIA’s recommendations have been translated into implementable plans by the city government, and as of March 2018, its technical assistance is nearly complete with a proposed project investment package amounting to over $500 million pipelined for funding by the Asian Development Bank, the Green Climate Fund and the private sector – providing continuity to the work initiated by CDIA.
When completed, the investment package will have realized 8,000 affordable and 2,000 social housing units; and redeveloped 130 hectares of ger areas into eco-districts that will serve as public spaces for mixed-income households.
“The CDIA’s PPS intervention was very helpful in terms of conceptualizing the overall sector strategy and developing the approach and methodology for implementing affordable housing solutions in Ulaanbaatar,” said Mr. Arnaud Heckman, ADB Senior Urban Development Officer in charge of the project. “The proposed AHURP fully complements the ongoing Urban Services Ger Area Development Investment Project (USGADIP) thereby contributing to the sustainable and inclusive development of ger areas,” he added.