A project to reduce air pollution originating from the ger district by providing on large scale heat proficient ger stoves has been launched by several major international and foreign development organizations such as the World Bank and German GTZ, and Mongolian institutions such as micro-finance lender Xac Bank.

UB is home to approximately 150,000 suburban households, most living in traditional Mongolian gers or one floor concrete or wooden homes.

As these neighbourhoods are not linked to the city’s central heating system, those who can afford it burn a combination of wood and coal for cooking and keeping warm during the frigid winter, while the poorest burn tires, trash...

But the high levels of ash and other particulate matter (PM) released by the coal-fired ger stoves can settle in the lungs and respiratory tract when inhaled and cause health problems with costly economical repercussions which Mongolia canhardly afford.

According to a December 2009 World Bank report, Ulaanbaatar’s PM rates are among the worst in the world at 2 to 10 times above international air quality standards, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates that health costs related to the air pollution account for as much as 4% of Mongolia’s GDP.

While in the past, similar programs were met with mixed success, GTZ says it has developed a new ger stove model, which includes insulating bricks to retain heat and reduce fuel consumption, and two air intake channels to raise the combustion temperature while cutting gas emissions. According to GTZ, the stoves can burn all types of fuel, even high quality semi-coke coal.

Xac Bank – who adopted last year the fifth generation of GTZ’s stove design for an eco-loan program - and GTZ claim that the USusd110 stove cuts fuel consumption by more than 50%, although customer feedback puts it around 30% to 40%.

Only a few hundred families have obtained loans for the stoves and other eco-products from Xac Bank since the lending program began last December.

But there is optimism that more progress can be made, in part because an amount of USusd30 million in Mongolia’s Millennium Challenge Account is earmarked for clean energy initiatives over the next three years.

Meanwhile, the Dem Party group also discussed the Ger districts and ways of decreasing air pollution in the capital during a meeting at the SGK earlier this week.

Part of the solution would be to construct 75 thousand apartments in the affected area for which MNT 17 trillion financing would be required.

Though such an amount is unavailable at the present, large mining contract could be one way of funding the project.