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

General Press Releases Friday April 20, 2018 16:20
Bangkok--20 Apr--OHCHR-Bangkok

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 Leo 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: the 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.

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