A peaceful revolution in the late 80s and early 90s following decades of soviet control has seen Mongolia undergo a slow and somewhat rocky transition to a market economy. As a result, measures of development and poverty in the nation have slowly been improving. There is still widespread rural poverty in many areas of the vast plains of this ancient land and wherever there is poverty, there are likely to be severe deficiencies in the provision of water and sanitation.
It is currently estimated that around 66% of the total population in Mongolia have access to clean, safe water and just 23% have access to the adequate sanitation. As is usually the case in developing nations, these figures mask important discrepancies between urban and rural areas.
In most rural areas of the country, about one out of five households has access to clean water sources. Fewer than 5% of rural homes have any form of suitable sanitation systems. As a result, every year thousands of children under the age of five suffer from diarrhoea and hundreds more are infected with Hepatitis A.
In most Mongolian families, the responsibility for fetching water for the household rests with the child. According to a 2004 survey by UNICEF, the UN Development Programme and the World Heath Organization, more than a third of all the country’s children spend three to four hours per day collecting water. They must brave frozen rivers and wells in winter and haul containers long distances. Many children miss classes to accomplish this necessary daily task.
Just a Drop would like to see this situation change and to this aim has completed two important projects in Mongolia that have resulted in the quality of life of approximately 20, 000 people being drastically improved.