ULAANBAATAR, 13-15 March 2017 – Poor sanitation and hygiene conditions were estimated to cost the Mongolian economy 35.5 billion MNT (US$ 26 million), or 0.5% of GDP, as presented at “Sanitation in Cold Climate”, a two-day international expert consultation held in Ulaanbaatar.
With the population of only 3 million people, about 45% of Mongolians live in its capital and in poor and deprived areas around the city. Winter time in Mongolia is long and the temperature can go down as low as -40°C, with permafrost throughout much of the country for most of the year. In these challenging geographic conditions, access to basic social services is constrained for the most vulnerable populations, and this is particularly true for water and sanitation.
The latest national survey shows that in Mongolia only 27.3% of population use improved sanitation facilities, based on country-specific definition, which excludes individual household outdoor latrines (SISS/MICS, 2013). According to the country-specific definition, access to improved sanitation stands at 39.1% in urban areas, but only at 6.8% in rural areas. Open Defecation practices remain significantly high (25.2%) in rural areas, compared to urban areas (0.5%).
In light of these challenges, UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health and National Public Health Centre is organizing this International Expert Consultation on Sanitation in Cold Climate with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The consultation aims to start a dialogue around best practices and innovation methods to improve children’s access to WASH services under extreme cold climate conditions as well as to introduce about affordable and accessible models of improved sanitation facilities for household and institutional use applicable to the Mongolian context.
“I would like to thank UNICEF and partners for organizing this important meeting. I believe, the consultation will play an important role in intensifying Mongolian government policy to improve the living conditions of the population and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Concept of Mongolia - 2030 goal that is "to increase access to basic sanitation facilities" said Mrs Tsogtsetseg Ayush, the Minister of Heath, during her opening remarks.
“Poor sanitation has a direct health impact on children. Diarrhea causes 6 percent of mortality of under-five children in Mongolia. Many infectious diseases can be prevented by having adequate sanitation” said Mr Roberto Benes, UNICEF Mongolia Representative. “In Mongolia, UNICEF plays an increasing role of knowledge broker and influencer of policy decisions by connecting to international best practices and world class technical expertise by facilitating horizontal dialogue. Today’s consultation is an example of that. The consultation brings together best national and international experts in the field who will present innovative solutions, models and technologies that can be applied and replicated here in Mongolia”.
The consultation attended by international WASH experts from US, UK, Sweden, China and Germany will put forward viable recommendations to improve the provision of WASH services for children in both rural and urban areas and replication of models.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF Mongolia and its work for children, visit: www.unicef.mn