UNICEF Mongolia Representative visits remote Khuvsgul communities
The UNICEF Mongolia's Representative, Mohamed Malick Fall, made a visit during 11-13 March 2013 to Khuvsgul province in the far north-west of Mongolia, to visit UNICEF’s project areas first hand and meet with remote community members.
Beginning in the provincial capital, Murun, Mr. Fall travelled to Burentogtokh soum (village) 54km from the capital, to meet local authorities and some of the 3600 sparsely located residents in the area. The local Governor, Mr. Namuutsetseg, and his team showed Mr. Fall a kind welcome and, despite only commencing in his role as Governor two months ago, demonstrated strong commitment to the joint projects with UNICEF. He updated Mr. Fall on local progress towards achieving the criteria for a Child-Friendly Community and Child-Friendly Schools, including WASH, and gave detailed child protection-related information about his soum.
An important part of the Representative’s visit to Khuvsgul was to get acquainted with the progress of implementation of the AusAID USD 3,5 million project on “WASH in Schools and Kindergartens”. Burentogtokh soum is one of the 12 target soums of this project in Khuvsgul province. Soum authorities and the Project Steering Committee (PSC) members highly appreciated the AusAID funding for improving WASH situation in schools and kindergartens. Mr. Fall, in turn, expressed that he was delighted to observe that the project progress was on track and local government, schools and PSC had strong commitment and enthusiasm towards working together on this project.
Mr. Fall visited the local hospital and met with some staff and patients. A young pregnant woman told Mr. Fall that she relied on the local hospital for its maternal and child services, including for gynaecological treatment. "I came to get treatment for my extra-genital illness before my delivery”, she said. “I have two girls and now I am expecting my third child. I always rely and trust on our village doctors”.
Mr. Namuutsetseg told Mr. Fall that despite limited financial resources, the village as a whole was working to be a Child-Friendly Community, and this had started from the local school, where the school staff and community members had created a child-friendly environment for the 6-year-old nomadic children who live in the dormitory to enable them to attend school. Mr. Fall visited the school, where students put on dance performance and gave full hand claps to mark their respect on the occasion of his first visit to the village.
In the countryside en route to Murun, Mr. Fall was able to meet a local nomadic family and discuss the effect of the harsh winter on the livelihoods of Khuvsgul residents. Mr. Gombosuren and his family, including their triplet boys, invited Mr. Fall into their traditional felt house (ger) and explained that the winter this year had been very harsh. Due to heavy snow fall and harsh winter, Mr. Gombosuren had needed to continue moving his livestock to the mountains, some 20-30km from his home and family. This required his wife to live in the village centre for allowing their triplet boys to attend kindergarten, while he was herding his 900-head of livestock; a fragmentation of the family experienced by many nomadic families in the area in order to survive the harsh winter and allow their children, specially 6-year olds continue to study at local schools or attend kindergarten.
Mr. Fall reflected that the visit to Khuvsgul and Burentogtokh soum left him with an image of “commitment, leadership and ownership that people, especially local authorities, maintain despite their lack of financial availability”. He was touched by the warm reception that he received and vowed to ensure UNICEF’s joint activities with the local Government and communities would continue to make a positive difference to the lives of Khuvsgul residents.