Social Development and Space Patterns in Ger Settlements

Fencing, Water and Festivities in Yarmag, Ulaanbaatar

In: Inner Asia

Over the last 20 years, Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, has witnessed unprecedented urbanisation. Nomadic families from the rural provinces of the country have been pouring into the city and developing the so-called ‘ger settlements’. The traditional mobile dwelling, the ger (Mongolian for ‘yurt’), forms the nucleus of semi-formal settlement compounds, where yurts and makeshift shelters are surrounded by improvised walls and connected by dusty access lanes. Ger settlements lack essential urban services, such as water and sewage systems, as well as many public services and public spaces. At the same time, ger settlements are dynamic, hybrid spaces in which nomadic/rural and urban lifestyles still merge today, bearing problems but also opportunities for the city, as linkages to former nomadic lifestyles. The paper discusses challenges to community making and empowerment when transforming from nomadic life style to urban life and these are linked to the traditions and daily routines of ger settlement Yarmag.

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