Tags / Mongolia
Although 40% of Mongolians still live as nomadic herders, democracy, market capitalism and a resources boom catapulted the Mongolian economy to achieve the world’s fastest growth in 2011 with GDP growth of 17.3%. Trillions of dollars of natural resources lie beneath the steppes, grasslands and deserts of Mongolia. It possesses enough coal, copper, gold, uranium, silver, fluorite and other minerals to make every Mongolian wealthy.
In this decade of economic growth, hundreds of thousands of nomadic herders have abandoned their traditional way of life and moved into the Ger District: a tent slum in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar. The impoverished area has no running water, little waste collection and an unemployment rate around 30%. However, it was not the country's economic growth that has lured former nomads to the city. These former nomads are climate refugees.
During the cruel winter of 2009-10, nomadic herders fell victim to the dreaded "zud," a weather phenomenon in which snow is frozen solid by temperatures as low as -48C. Eight and a half million cows, horses, goats, sheep and camels starved and froze to death during an extreme 55 day cold spell.
Climate change scientists have noted more frequent "zuds" and some of the most extreme weather conditions seen in Mongolia in a thousand years. Nomadic herding traditions that are integral to Mongolian life and culture are facing their greatest challenge. In the mean time, life in the Ger District is a struggle just to get by.
During winter, Ulaanbaatar, the world's coldest capital city, becomes one of the world's most polluted as the residents of Ger District burn coal and anything else they can get their hands on to survive temperatures that can sink below -40C.
A woman works on her garden, a bare patch of earth beside her home in Ulaanbaatar's Ger District.
A young boy fills up a water container As there is no running water in the city's northern slums, residents, and often children must carry water from water stations.
Young siblings sit on their family's car. Many people in this impoverished area have taken out loans for cars, televisions or bikes for their children and are struggling to repay the debt.
A man walks towards a puddle on an unpaved road on the northern edge of the city. The northern hills of the Mongolian capital are covered with 'gers,' traditional tents also known as 'yurts,' and cheap buildings with no running water. 60% of the city's 1.3 million people live in this area known as the Ger District.
A family sits together in their 'ger,' a traditional Mongolian tent, on the northern hills of the Mongolian capital.
A view from the hills to the north of the Mongolian capital shows a tent city sprawling far beyond the city limits.
(L-R): Temujin, 9, and her brother Munkaorgil, 12, pat one of their family's dogs outside a shack near their 'ger.'
(L-R): Byamajav, 11 and his friend Munkaorgil, 12, play on the northern hills of the Mongolian capital.
Locals wait for a public bus on the northern edge of the city.
Dogs roam on a road passing through the tent slum on the northern hills of the Mongolian capital.
Erdenebat, 29, sits by a road on the northern hills of the Mongolian capital. Erdenebat migrated to Ulaanbaatar in 2011 and makes ends meet with odd jobs through contacts at his local Christian church.
A young boy carries two buckets of water up an unmade road on the northern hills of the Mongolian capital. As there is no running water in the city's northern slums, residents, and often children must carry water from water stations.
Children play fight at a playground on in Ulaanbaatar's Ger District.
A teenage girl pushes a trolley with two empty plastic containers down the dirt path to a water source.
A small stone pagoda sits on a hill above the Ger District.
Altangerel, 60, stands on his plot of land in the Ger District. All Mongolians are allotted plots of land according to Mongolian law. Altangeral and his wife gave their city apartment to their son and his wife upon their marriage three years ago and moved into a 'ger,' a traditional Mongolian tent.
Altangerel, 60, sits in the 'ger' while the neigbor children watch television.
Neighbours of Altangerel, 60, and his wife (both not pictured) visit their 'ger.'
Batdma, 27, and her 2 year old son wait for a taxi on the northern hills of the Mongolian capital. 60% of the city's 1.6 million people live in this area known as the Ger District.
Tsetsgihee, 60, has lived in the Ger District for 32 years. "The government promises apartments and comfortable lives, but we're still living in mud houses," she says.
A Transterra spotlight with selected images documenting LGBT communities and issues in Armenia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nepal, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Moscow, Turkey and Iran. Most images below are selected from collections and photo essays available on Transterra. See the links below for some examples:
Transgender in Armenia: http://transterramedia.com/collections/879
Natkadaw Festival in Myanmar: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1375
Transgender Political Candidate in Pakistan: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1030
My Life as a Nepalese Transgender: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1430
Being a Gay Journalist in Hong Kong: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1291
Turkey's LGBT Asylum Seekers: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1107
The Holy Wigs - Jerusalem Drag Queens: http://transterramedia.com/collections/1399