Improving infrastructure within the Ger area subcenters and connectivity with the city core center is critical for inclusiveness and important to facilitate the movement of people and goods, develop urban corridors, and create clusters of subcenters. Better urban planning combined with a network of infrastructure along priority roads will initiate a structural change of subcenter urban fabric. This will improve residents access to basic urban services, public space, and socioeconomic facilities; support local economic development; allow residents and businesses to take advantage of urban economies; and provide better housing options. The changes in land use and higher urban density will improve water, sanitation, and heating services delivery.
Based on government and Municipality of Ulaanbaatar (MUB) priorities to redevelop Ger areas, the road map for the program will support the MUB in establishing a network of well-developed subcenters to provide jobs, housing, and economic opportunities with reduced soil and air pollution.
It comprises sequenced investments, municipal reforms, and capacity building (policy, planning, and monitoring), with four strategic objectives:
In February 2013, Parliament approved the Adjustments to the Ulaanbaatar City Urban Development Master Plan 2020 and Development Directions 2030. The master plan produced two important outcomes: integration of Ger area development into the city master plan, and acknowledgement of the value and function of Ger area subcenters as key elements of future city growth. The MUB is developing the Ger Area Development Program and established a Ger Area Development Agency, supervised by the vice mayor in charge of urban development and investment.
On 30 May 2013, the city council resolution No.10/38 endorsed the program, subcenter locations under project 1, and coordination of the investment program with the city master plan.
In 2012 Ulaanbaatar had a population of 1.3 million. Since the 1990s, it has had limited formal extension of its core, which largely comprises apartment blocks with comprehensive utility services, including dedicated heating, water, and sanitation. However, successive waves of in-migration with Ger tents have reshaped the city s geography, with little upgrading or extension of basic urban services; and government policy, since 2003, to give each citizen about 700 square meters of land. A vast low-density peri-urban area, named Ger areas, now extends around the city core, characterized by unplanned settlement of low- and medium-income households with land ownership, unserviced plots, unpaved roads, and poor facilities. The Ger area population is estimated at 800,000, representing 60% of Ulaanbaatar or 30% of the country population. Despite their size, Ger areas have until recently been considered temporary settlements. However, their official integration in the 2013 city master plan provides the necessary provision to plan the redevelopment of a formal peri-urban area.
Living conditions in Ger areas are difficult
Poor sanitation households almost exclusively rely on open pit latrines and poor waste collection have created highly unsanitary living conditions. Air pollution is among the most severe in the world, particularly during winter because of inadequate household heating systems and unpaved roads. Access to water, supplied by kiosks operated by the Ulaanbaatar Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (USUG), is limited. In 2011, most of the 40,000 people migrating to Ulaanbaatar settled in Ger areas; by 2022 the population is estimated to grow by 400,000 from in-migration and natural growth. Under current situation, the forecasted population increases is a serious threat to the city environment and the health of the population if the situation is not improved.
Lack of long-term planning, infrastructure investment, and land use regulation in Ger areas have resulted in haphazard development, limited availability of space for public facilities, poor access to socioeconomic services, reduced livelihood opportunities, and insecure neighborhoods. The lack of basic urban infrastructure is constraining rational and dynamic urban development, increasing the costs of doing business and of accessing services. The city core where jobs and services are concentrated now has unprecedented congestion. The service gap between the city core and Ger areas means Ger residents are poorly integrated in the urban economy; it is one of the most urgent and difficult development challenges. While various government and development partner initiatives have significantly improved living conditions in Ger areas, approaches have generally focused on specific sectors, failing to design a sustainable vision and provide integrated solutions for the problems of peri-urban development.
High construction cost, lack of urban planning, and inadequate infrastructure constrain the upgrading of Ger areas. These areas are predominately residential with pockets of activity nodes, called subcenters, providing commercial and administrative services. The influence area of a subcenter varies from 30,000 to 100,000 people. Despite the critical function of subcenters in overall spatial and local development, urban services have not been substantially improved. The lack of basic infrastructure limits economic growth and increases negative environmental impacts.
Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues). Implementation of Tranche 1 is ongoing. Four out of five consulting firm service packages (detailed design sewerage collector mains, program management support, community engagement and SME development, and urban planning and subcenter development) were awarded and consultants were mobilized accordingly. Three civil works contracts financed by EIB for the construction of sewerage network collectors for Bayankhoshuu and Selbe subcenters are in advanced stage of procurement processing.
Environmental impacts are anticipated during construction, including dust and noise (arising from earthworks, transport, and handling of aggregate materials and waste), temporary traffic disturbance, risks to community and occupational health and safety, and impacts of the heating subcomponent operations (gas emissions, ash, and slag). Mitigation measures defined in the environmental management plan, such as construction site management and regular monitoring of the project environmental performance during construction and operation, will reduce anticipated impacts and other construction-related health and safety concerns to acceptable levels.