New Website Brings Public Services Closer to Mongolia’s Ger Residents
January 29, 2014
On Jan. 22, 2014, the City Municipality of Ulaanbaatar and The Asia Foundation launched the first-ever interactive website where Mongolian citizens and city officials can find up-to-date information on availability of public services in their neighborhoods. The site, manaikhoroo.mn (which translates as “my neighborhood”), features downloadable maps on 11 different indicators related to six service sectors in the capital’s surrounding ger districts (home to more than half of the city’s 1.5 million residents): water, health, education, public transport, solid waste management, and vulnerability and safety.
Given the fluid nature of the ger areas, and the very limited data on demographics and availability of services for the khoroos, citizens’ participation in decision-making and planning has been limited. In addition those managing the city have faced significant information deficits when making decisions on how to invest their limited public resources.
This website fills that gap by allowing citizens to access the information both at the district and khoroo level, providing general statistics such as population size, density, and number of households living in 87 ger area khoroos in six districts. One of the main features of the website is the Google Maps interface, allowing users to interact with the maps and display relevant information about the selected khoroo or district by clicking on one or multiple service indicators, such as kindergartens or water kiosks, which are subsequently displayed on the respective map. The district and khoroo pages also contain tables that compare a particular district to the district average, to the average of the entire ger area of Ulaanbaatar, as well as khoroos to the district and the ger area-wide figures. Each map is downloadable as a printable PDF file and citizens can also provide comments on the maps.
The website is part of a larger community mapping project, implemented with the Ulaanbaatar mayor’s office earlier this year, in which we gathered data together with local leaders covering all 87 khoroos in the ger districts.
After drawing the existing services on maps in each khoroo, the data was used to carry out spatial analysis to identify service levels and gaps in accessibility and coverage of public services at district and khoroo level. Each of the khoroo maps on the website contains a khoroo profile that reflects this data. For example, a look at the education indicator of the more remote and less densely populated Songino Khaikarhan Khoroo 22, shows that 64 percent of two- to five-year old children do not attend kindergarten and only 8 percent of the population (7,467) has access to a water kiosk within a less than 5-minute radius. However, in the more densely populated khoroo 10 in the neighboring Bayangol district, 20 percent of percent of two- to five-year old children do not attend kindergarten and 97 percent of the population (7,746) has access to a water kiosk within a less than 5-minute radius. By calculating the average distance and access to each of these facilities, it is possible to determine the optimal location for future infrastructure development to have the largest impact in the community.
The data and the analysis generated from the community-mapping project also serves as a much-needed advocacy tool for citizens to lobby for better service delivery, as well as an important planning tool for the City Municipality, district, and khoroo authorities to ensure that investments in the ger areas are targeted and reach areas where they are most needed. The maps also provide a baseline, allowing citizens and city officials to track progress and monitor performance in improving quality and accessibility of services in the ger areas over time. In the fall of last year, the City Municipality already used the maps as a tool for discussions with citizens around its investment plans and as the basis for its 2014 budget discussions.
During the website launch, the Ulaanbaatar City Municipality announced solid waste management as a top priority for 2014. To support the city’s efforts, together with district and khoroo authorities, citizens, and solid waste management companies, The Asia Foundation will implement a project to establish model khoroos with more efficient, effective, and holistic solid waste management systems to serve as examples for the rest of the city and to improve the city’s long-term policies for managing waste in the ger areas. The data that now exists on the manaikhoroo website will be critical to this undertaking.
Since May 2012, The Asia Foundation has been implementing the Urban Services Project for the Ger Districts of Ulaanbaatar (USP) project as part of its Strategic Partnership with the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia.
Enkhtungalag Chuluunbaatar and Ariunaa Norovsambuu are the program officer and program coordinator for The Asia Foundation’s USP project in Mongolia, and Tirza Theunissen is the Foundation’s deputy country representative there. Theunissen can be reached at [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and not those of The Asia Foundation.
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