The Ger District of Ulaanbaatar

A Mongolian Ger or Yurt is a circular dwelling consists of a wooden frame and felt cover. It has been a common style of housing in Central Asia for three thousand years, especially in Mongolia. Due to its practicality, reliability, and functional & unique features, Gers are still being used today all around Mongolia. They are also used by most people residing within the Ger District of Ulaanbaatar.

The Ger district lies on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar and is home to upwards of 60% of the capital city’s population. Migration to Ulaanbaatar has increased the population by 55% over the past fifteen years. Today, more than half of residents, over 800,000 people live in ger districts that mainly burn coal and wood to stay warm, intensifying air pollution. This is one of the primary reasons why Mongolia is one of the most polluted cities in the world.

In the Ger District, there are two main dwelling types: gers and houses. Houses are generally built from bricks and woods. Different households are separated from each other with a fence called hashaa. Even though most residents in the Ger District enjoy living there, there are many challenges posed by the living conditions.

The Main Issues in the Ger Districts?

Air Pollution:

The Ger District experiences severe air pollution due to the burning of coal and wood for heating purposes. With over 800,000 residents relying on these fuel sources, the air quality in Ulaanbaatar suffers, making it one of the most polluted cities globally.

Soil and Water Pollution:

Inadequate waste removal systems contribute to soil and water pollution in the Ger District. Efforts should be made to improve waste management practices to mitigate this issue.

Transportation Challenges:

The Ger District lacks proper road infrastructure and public transportation options, making it difficult for residents to commute to work or school. The absence of paved roads and highways hampers mobility within the district.


Internal migration to Ulaanbaatar has resulted in a significant increase in the Ger District’s population, leading to overpopulation and subsequent challenges such as rising apartment prices and traffic congestion.

Possible Solutions

As the urban and rural differences grow, inequality grows as well. That is why it’s crucial to address these issues early on. There is indeed no quick solution. The Government has been discussing re-planning of the Ger district as well as implementing the use of improved coal, such as semi-coke briquettes, and has banned the use of raw coal beginning in 2019.

For the short term, increasing the awareness of the residents is important. The residents should choose low-emission, clean stoves instead of traditional stoves. The World Bank also mentioned that electric heating – including electric thermal storage (ETS) heaters, heat pumps, and other renewable energy applications – must also be part of the longer-term solution.

There are several programs implemented with the help of international organizations as well. For instance, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) have offered aid to the Mongolian government with financing and infrastructure. World Bank’s Ulaanbaatar Clean Air Project is another example. The project provided home insulation and almost 200,000 energy-efficient stoves to the capital’s ger districts. They all have been effective measures in tackling air pollution, housing deficit, lack of infrastructure, etc, but air pollution is on the rise again.

Life in the Ger District

Despite the challenges and problems, the Ger District is home to many elders, young people, and children. Most residents are optimistic about further infrastructure development, a clean & healthy environment, and overall improved living conditions. They are living in their Gers, some having their own herds, agriculture, and farming work. The kids and students go to schools and kindergartens in the local area.

Despite the lack of infrastructure development and health & safety services, the residents are optimistic about the future development of the Ger district. Many people are worried about the ever-growing lifestyle differences between the urban and rural areas, and it needs long-term consistent measures to tackle the various issues.

In Conclusion

The Ger District in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, presents various challenges related to pollution, limited infrastructure, and overpopulation. While short-term measures like the use of improved coal and raising awareness about clean heating alternatives are being implemented, long-term solutions require concerted efforts from the government, international organizations, and the local community. Addressing these issues will lead to improved living conditions, reduced pollution levels, and a more equitable future for the residents of the Ger District.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Ger District in Mongolia?

The Ger District is an area located on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. It is characterized by the prevalence of traditional Mongolian dwellings called Gers or yurts.

What are the main challenges faced by the Ger District residents?

The Ger District residents face several challenges, including air pollution caused by coal and wood burning, limited access to utilities and infrastructure, transportation difficulties, and overpopulation.

Where is the Ger District in Ulaanbaatar?

The Ger District is located on the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. It encompasses various areas surrounding the city, primarily to the north, east, and west. The district is spread out over a considerable area, accommodating a significant portion of Ulaanbaatar’s population.

What is Population of Ger Districts?

The population of the Ger Districts in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is significant. It is estimated that upwards of 60% of the capital city’s population resides in the Ger Districts. Over the past fifteen years, internal migration to Ulaanbaatar has led to a 55% increase in the population. While the exact population numbers may vary, the Ger Districts are home to a substantial portion of Ulaanbaatar’s residents, with over 800,000 people living in these areas.

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