Traditional Mongolian nomadic tent a growing part of urban landscape

World Today

The suburbs of Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar has seen a steady increase in construction of traditional nomadic Mongolian gers, or yurts. The problem is, they were never designed for city living. CCTV’s Pearly Jacob reports.

Many of the city’s migrants are former nomadic herders who lost their animals over a series of harsh winters. From 1998-2002, more than 11 million livestock — including goats, yaks, horses and cows — died, leaving many nomadic families without a livelihood.

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Desperate, most of them came to the capital, especially after a court ruled in 2003 that every Mongolian was entitled to 700 square meters of land.

But city planners hadn’t expected such a huge influx into Ulaanbaatar, leaving many of the city’s districts without services such as public sewage, water access, and paved roads. These conditions led to the increased construction of the traditionally nomadic ger — a circular single-room tent supported by wooden latticed frames and lined with felt.

Gers were originally built for the remoteness of Mongolia’s vast steppe, but today, hundreds of thousands can be seen in the suburbs capital Ulaanbaatar.

In the past, the government thought the problem could be solved by moving the residents into apartments, but apartments are often still to expensive for many.

The government has not changed course and is slowly developing the city around ger districts.

Many ger residents are excited about the government’s new policy, saying the plan is more practical than moving them into apartments.

Former nomad Dambadarjaa Vandandorj said that while he lives in an urban area, he still relies on traditions suc drinking salty milk tea in a traditional silver bowl and living in a ger.

“You can never separate a Mongolian person from the ger. Even the world’s development reaches its peak, the Mongolian ger will always be there,” Dambadarjaa Vandandorj said.