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Asia Center of The Academy of Natural Sciences

Nomads of the Eastern Shore of Lake Hovsgol

Shiirev-Adiya Saruul

Mongolian nomadic herders use pasture land that they typically allocate for four seasons of the year, but in the eastern shore of Lake Hövsgöl this ability has been lost since the socialist period. The purpose of this presentation is to explain about the “Corner People” and why we consider these people as corner people. I investigate several reasons to explain why those people are cornered. Their geographical location is very important in considering them to be called “Corner People” because they live in an area bounded by (i) to the north the Mongolian border with Russia (the soum center is only 20kms from the border) (ii) the eastern shore of Lake Hövsgöl, and from the east (iii) by the taiga forest and high mountain regions from the west (iv) and bounded in the south by Hövsgöl National Park’s strictly protected area. This dilemma negatively affects the herders in several ways as (i) lack of communication (ii) abundance of poverty (iii) neglect of social security and other social supplies (iv) due to poor infrastructure such as road conditions herders are unable often to access to central places (lack of transportation) and not able to access social services such as school and hospital (v) due to a lack of markets to sell products and meat, the number of livestock in two of the valleys presently exceeds the carrying capacity of the pasture land.

The herders Turag NGO will hopefully, by working together, develop the solutions to manage the problems of sustainable land use and natural resource use also protect biodiversity and ecology thus the only hope to free them from their corner.

The nomadic socio-economy research is being carried out in six tributary valleys of eastern shore of Lake Hövsgöl. We surveyed the 37 to 39 herder families in the eastern shore of Lake Hövsgöl between June and August 2003 to 2005.

During the field study period we visited each herder family 3-4 times. Herders lose their livestock by disease, natural disaster, wolves and stealing. According to between autumn 2004 and summer 2005 locals lost 1131.8 livestock by sheep unit for the above reasons. The herders sell some products seasonally in the markets of Muren. The local traders are currently the main players of this market economy. Actually, herders in this region have the feasibility to sell products in the Russian market but unfortunately it is dependent upon decisions to be made by the Russian and Mongolian governments. Due to poor development of meat factories, locals still cannot produce factory meat (packaged meat) to export to Russian market. The results of surveys of household incomes and expenses population gave the information to determine livelihood, poverty, employment and level of social development. To study household livelihood using the PRA method, families’ livelihoods depend directly on the number of family members, the number of hands labor, number of livestock, labor abilities of head of family and members and their innovation and initiatives.

We need to strengthen the co-operation with the Turag NGO and to help the NGO to clarify its mission and develop its leadership. In the future, the Hövsgöl GEF Project and locals need to consider development of fundraising activities that support specific plans sponsored by the NGO. The agreement of between Hövsgöl GEF Project and local governments that will co-operate on the activities of “Turag” NGO is already paved. Also the herders have the feasibility to increase the income resources including handy craft, carpentry, gathering pharmacy plants and fruits and ecotourism.

By involving local citizens in the tourism business, the people will understand the importance of protecting the environment because their business will depend on a pristine condition of the environment.

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