Mongolia: UN expert urges government to remedy water and sanitation issues in rural and Ger areas

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ULAANBAATAR (20 April 2018) – A UN human rights expert has urged the Government of Mongolia to address the inequalities in access to drinking water and sanitation, saying most of those living in rural areas and peri-urban areas (‘Ger’ areas) do not have adequate access to safe water or toilets.

“The picture in Mongolia is clearly divided: residents living in central areas of cities have connection at home to a piped water and sewerage system while the majority of the rural and ‘Ger’ areas do not,” said Léo Heller, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

“Many people still rely on water kiosks for drinking water and use an unsafe pit latrine located outside of their homes. I met with people living in the ‘Ger’ - the traditional portable round dwelling - who expressed the difficulty to climb hilly roads to collect water and to use the outdoor toilet in the blistering cold.”

The entire population in Mongolia - whether living in urban cities, rural areas, or with a nomadic lifestyle - should be provided with adequate drinking water and sanitation services,” he said at the end of an official visit to the country. “Those living in apartments, houses or ‘Ger’ should have equal level of access to those services to the extent possible.”

He said several factors had contributed to the unbalanced picture in Mongolian’s access to drinking water and sanitation: extreme cold climate, geography, the dispersed population, lack of financial resources and inadequate institutional structure for water and sanitation provision.

But, most importantly, Mongolian legislation, policy and institutional arrangement on drinking water and sanitation are not firmly grounded on human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation as a whole,” Heller said.

“The human rights framework will guide the Government of Mongolia to progressively realise the human rights to drinking water and sanitation services. A priority should be given to bridging the gaps and inequalities.”

Heller met with representatives of the central and local government and members of civil society organisations and spoke to individuals living in rural and urban area as well as the nomadic population. He visited Ulaanbaatar city, Dalanzadgad and Tsogttsetsii of Umnugovi province and Dundgovi province.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report of his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2018.

ENDS

Mr. Léo Heller (Brazil) is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, appointed in November 2014. He is a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and was previously Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014. Learn more: http://www.ohchr.org/SRwaterandsanitation

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page: Mongolia

For more information and media requests, please contact:
During the mission: Ms. Ahreum Lee +41 79-752 0481 / ahreumlee@ohchr.org or Ms. Tsetsegmaa Amar (+976 11 327 585 ext 1104 / tsetsegmaa.amar@one.un.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact
Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

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