With a surface of one million and a half square kilometers and an estimated population of less than three million citizens (most of them concentrated in the capital city Ulan Bator), Mongolia is one of the most underpopulated countries of the world. Its environment is strong, difficult and, during long periods of time, inhospitable for human beings. The long and cold winters, with temperatures falling to -50 C°, are a year challenge for Mongols living in the steppes using Gers (the Mongolian version of the traditional middle Asian nomads’ tents) as home.
Herders have to face these long hard winters to arrive alive, and with an adequate number of beasts survived, to the next summer, when temperature rising, and the grazing lands grow thanks to seasonal rains. Harder winters, named Zud in local language, could be tremendous events for Mongol nomads. Following a stronger one in 2010, about 40.000 families lost their animals killed by the intense cold (about a third of these families lost their entire herds, the others suffered loss for about a half of the herds they own) and have to resettle in Ulan Bator, with the consequent growth of Ger boroughs in the outskirt of the city, where, deprived of the income deriving from pastoralism, they live by expedients.
Remained for centuries deeply tied with nature and its rhythms, the Mongols currently have to deal with the double face of the progress; the increasing discovering, and mining, of mineral resources in the rich subsoil creates new developing opportunities for the country, but, at the same time, air, water and soil pollution rise. Just at this current embryonic stage of country development, the large power plant in the outskirts of the city, the domestic consume of wood and coke and the intense traffic, have transformed Ulan Bator into one of the most polluted city areas of the world.
Started in 2012, with a round trip documenting the daily life of Mongols in Ulan Bator, in some other little cities and in the countryside (mostly in the Dundgovi and in the Umnugovi Aimags), this project is conceived to narrate the transformations underway in the Mongolian society and environment.
The growing mining and the large foreign investments deriving from that, the creation of new roads (currently there are very few) and infrastructures, the increasing pollution of air, soil and water, the new working opportunities, especially for people deprived from their cattle income, are some of the aspects I will analyze as my documentation going on.
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