Mongolia : Strengthening Soum Center Infrastructure and Green Development

Sovereign Project | 56212-001

The technical assistance (TA) will support the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development (MCUD) and soum center governments to improve soum center infrastructure and green development. This will be achieved through the formulation of integrated infrastructure and economic development plans for selected soum centers, and the preparation of regulatory and technological tools, as well as institutional strengthening support.

The TA is closely aligned with the priorities of the country partnership strategy of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Mongolia, 20212024, which aims to support climate-resilient infrastructure to drive competitiveness and diversification.

Project Details

  • Project Officer
    Mamatkulov, Raushanbek
    Sectors Group
    Request for information
  • Approval Date
    31 May 2024
  • Country/Economy
    Mongolia
  • Sector
    • Water and other urban infrastructure and services
Project Name
Strengthening Soum Center Infrastructure and Green Development
Project Number
56212-001
Country / Economy
  • Mongolia
Project Status
Approved
Project Type / Modality of Assistance
  • Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 10306-MON: Strengthening Soum Center Infrastructure and Green Development
Source Amount
Japan Fund for Prosperous and Resilient Asia and the Pacific US$ 1.00 million
Operational Priorities
  • OP2: Accelerating progress in gender equality
  • OP3: Tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability
  • OP4: Making cities more livable
  • OP6: Strengthening governance and institutional capacity
Sector / Subsector
  • Water and other urban infrastructure and services / Urban policy, institutional and capacity development

Gender
Some gender elements
Description

The technical assistance (TA) will support the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development (MCUD) and soum center governments to improve soum center infrastructure and green development. This will be achieved through the formulation of integrated infrastructure and economic development plans for selected soum centers, and the preparation of regulatory and technological tools, as well as institutional strengthening support.

The TA is closely aligned with the priorities of the country partnership strategy of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Mongolia, 20212024, which aims to support climate-resilient infrastructure to drive competitiveness and diversification.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Mongolia transitioned from a centrally planned to a market-based economy in the 1990s. The aimag and soum centers were unable to continue serving as anchors of economic activities because of the collapse of their economic, processing, and productive functions, and the dismantling of cooperatives. State cooperatives, processing facilities, and services for the rural economy fell into disrepair and were abandoned. Rural inhabitants were thus compelled to migrate to Ulaanbaatar to seek economic opportunities, leading to stagnation in rural areas and a disproportionate burden on the capital's infrastructure. As of 2022, Ulaanbaatar accounted for 68% of the urban population and 63% of Mongolia's gross domestic product, illustrating the country's drastic territorial imbalance. Rural migrants have created vast ger areas (unplanned settlements) in the outskirts of Ulaanbaatar, which have become major contributors to urban traffic congestion and pollution.

Soum centers are the foundation of Mongolia's urban network. They provide basic public and economic services to soum residents and serve a critical role in catalyzing local economic growth, thereby absorbing rural migrants and relieving population pressure in Ulaanbaatar. However, soum center development is constrained by a lack of basic infrastructure, urban services, and economic opportunities. These challenges have also made soum centers more vulnerable than other urban settlements to climate change risks and economic shocks, such as that caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Since 1940, Mongolia has experienced significant climate change with increased average temperature, declining rainfall, increased drying of water bodies, and extreme weather events.

Weak infrastructure. As of 2020, 254 of Mongolia's 309 soum centers lacked basic infrastructure. Most soum centers use unreliable or unsafe water sources, such as rivers, dams, lakes, unprotected wells, or springs. Sewage is commonly disposed in pit latrines. Most households dispose of solid waste in unplanned garbage dumps, causing air, soil, and water pollution. Heating in soum centers mostly relies on individual heat-only boilers, which are coal-based and contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, with very few centralized heat networks. Soum centers lack affordable housing, social services, public spaces, and other amenities, and the regulatory frameworks for soum centers have been too weak to properly guide and control their development. Particularly, water infrastructure planning and construction guidelines and regulations are intended for medium and large-sized urban settlements and are not applicable to soum centers. Urban planning in soum centers lacks cross-sectoral integration and consideration to infrastructure life-cycle costs. To strengthen the climate resilience of the infrastructure, technologies that cater to the socioeconomic reality of soum centers (e.g., low population density and weak financial capability) need to be explored.

Limited economic opportunities. The economic activities of soum centers mainly involve mining, livestock, arable farming, forestry, tourism, and transport and logistics. The poor living conditions in soum centers make it difficult to attract the human resources needed to further boost local industries. In addition, economic opportunities in soum centers have been constrained by (i) weak strategies for soum center economic development; (ii) poor economic infrastructure and services; (iii) insufficient micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise financing; and (iv) inadequate business knowledge and labor skills, including regarding e-commerce, especially among women entrepreneurs. Because soum economies rely heavily on natural resources and have been significantly affected by climate change, there is an urgent need to adopt a green economic development approach.

Inefficient delivery of urban services. Delivery of urban services, such as water supply, heating, and sewerage, is inefficient. The services are frequently interrupted because of a lack of utility staff. Institutional capacity in urban infrastructure operation and maintenance (O&M) and asset management are lagging in soum centers. Low tariffs have contributed to the utilities' poor financial performance.

The Government of Mongolia has developed strategies and policies in response to these challenges. In its long-term development policy, the government has committed to supporting regional and local development, and lifting the quality of life for all citizens through infrastructure development. The New Recovery Policy calls for (i) developing infrastructure and housing in rural areas to attract residents, businesses, and services; (ii) strengthening O&M of soum infrastructure with a full range of high-quality services; and (iii) creating a supportive environment for local agricultural businesses. MCUD formulated a Soum Center Development Program (footnote 8) as a priority project under the New Recovery Policy.

The TA will contribute to achieving ADB's Strategy 2030 operational priorities (OPs) by accelerating progress in gender equality (OP2); tackling climate change, building climate and disaster resilience, and enhancing environmental sustainability (OP3); making cities more livable (OP4); and strengthening governance and institutional capacity (OP6). It is also closely aligned with the priorities of ADB's country partnership strategy for Mongolia, 20212024, which aims to support climate-resilient infrastructure development and institutional capacity and governance strengthening. The TA will support Sustainable Development Goals 11 and 13 by enhancing inclusive, sustainable, and climate-resilient urban infrastructure development. The TA will support the Government of Mongolia to prepare infrastructure investment projects which include elements aligned with Group of 20 (G20) principles of quality infrastructure investment.

Lessons. ADB has been supporting green, competitive, and sustainable urban and territorial development in Mongolia by (i) supporting capacity building and institutional reforms to improve planning, development, and operation and management of urban services; (ii) improving basic urban infrastructure and social services; and (iii) catalyzing local urban economic growth. This TA will build on the provincial development plans, policy frameworks, and financing tools that have been or will be formulated through these interventions and supplement institutional support for soum center development that is adapted to local needs and economic growth potential. The TA aims to formulate transformative and sustainable models for soum center development to integrate engineering and socioeconomic infrastructure and to synergize economic and urban development. The TA will help catalyze investment in soum center development, thereby supplementing ADB's ongoing projects (footnote 15) in Ulaanbaatar, aimag centers, and inter-soum centers.

Impact

Urban-rural development recovered; and quality of life, green development, and regional development sustainability achieved (New Recovery Policy and Vision 2050Long Term Development Policy of Mongolia)

Project Outcome

Description of Outcome

Soum center infrastructure improvement and green development capacity applied

Progress Toward Outcome

Implementation Progress

Description of Project Outputs

Policy and technical advice on integrated, inclusive, and climate-resilient soum center infrastructure development provided

Capacity in soum center green economic development strengthened

Knowledge and tools in soum center utility service delivery improved

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Geographical Location
Nation-wide

Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects

Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples

Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation

During Project Design
During Project Implementation

Contact

Responsible ADB Officer
Mamatkulov, Raushanbek
Responsible ADB Department
Sectors Group
Responsible ADB Division
Water and Urban Development Sector Office (SG-WUD)
Executing Agencies
Ministry of Construction and Urban Development

Timetable

Concept Clearance
29 Jun 2023
Fact Finding
12 Aug 2022 to 12 Aug 2022
MRM
-
Approval
31 May 2024
Last Review Mission
-
Last PDS Update
17 Jul 2024

Project Data Sheets (PDS) contain summary information on the project or program. Because the PDS is a work in progress, some information may not be included in its initial version but will be added as it becomes available. Information about proposed projects is tentative and indicative.

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Title Document Type Document Date
Strengthening Soum Center Infrastructure and Green Development: Technical Assistance Report Technical Assistance Reports May 2024

Safeguard Documents See also: Safeguards
Safeguard documents provided at the time of project/facility approval may also be found in the list of linked documents provided with the Report and Recommendation of the President.

None currently available.


Evaluation Documents See also: Independent Evaluation

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Related Publications

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The Access to Information Policy (AIP) establishes the disclosure requirements for documents and information ADB produces or requires to be produced in its operations to facilitate stakeholder participation in ADB's decision-making. For more information, refer to the Safeguard Policy Statement, Operations Manual F1, and Operations Manual L3.

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Tenders

No tenders for this project were found.

Contracts Awarded

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Procurement Plan

None currently available.