"Land-use reform in nomadic Mongolia"
PHOTOGRAPHY & TEXT BY ELIE TEICHMAN
For hundreds of years, the Mongolian people have been defined by their nomadic culture. Even today, herding and grazing remain fundamental to the Mongolian identity. Herders and their families roam the Mongolian steppe with large flocks of sheep, goats, and horses, continuing a tradition and a means of livelihood that dates back beyond the days of Mongolia's defining leader Genghis Khan in the 11th century.
All rangeland in Mongolia is owned by the state, and herders have traditionally grazed their livestock on the basis of open access to this land. In areas of low population density and corresponding flock sizes, this traditional system has functioned well. However, new economic opportunities and markets near Mongolia’s urban areas have brought increasing numbers of herders and livestock to the grazing areas near the cities, increasing pressure on these regions and posing a threat to long-term sustainability.
To combat this growing problem, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (an independent U.S. foreign aid agency) has partnered with the Mongolian government in an effort to mitigate land degradation, reduce poverty, and promote growth through the Peri-Urban Rangeland Project. The project is designed to leverage the fact that there is a strong unmet demand for meat, milk, and other agricultural products in Mongolia’s largest cities, and that these peri-urban lands are located close to these city markets.
The Peri-Urban Rangeland Project provides herder groups with leases to use defined tracts of rangeland, accompanied by training and key infrastructure investments. Since herder groups will have exclusive and long-term control over this leased land, and will be required to manage the land in a sustainable manner, leasing is expected to motivate herders to run more efficient livestock operations that increase income while reducing land degradation.
About the Artist: Elie Teichman is a second year MPA student at the Woodrow Wilson School. He fulfilled his summer internship degree requirement by working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, during the summer of 2010. Prior to coming to WWS, Elie served in the Peace Corps in Romania and in the office of then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
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