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Williams College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Mongolia: Culture and Development


This study seeks to understand how engaged Mongolia’s nomadic herders and other rural citizens are in local decision-making. To do so, we conducted over sixty interviews with rural citizens, local officials, and political experts. We also carried out two page-long written surveys which were filled out by nearly two hundred rural citizens in four provinces. Though many Mongolian political experts tend to dismiss local government as powerless and treat rural citizens as homogenous entity, our research has uncovered a remarkable diversity of opinion and activism at the local level. Through their participation in bag meetings and conversations with local officials, many rural herders and planters are frequently engaged in politics even if they do not regard it as such. Despite their lack of formal budgetary control, many local governors have taken on a variety of projects with the help of international donors, often taking herder’s ideas into account. In order to strengthen Mongolia’s democracy, therefore, we recommend that foreign donors focus their support on local governments and rural civil society organizations. In addition, the Mongolian national government and organization concerned with promoting democracy should give more emphasis to citizen education in the countryside and to fostering communication amongst herders groups and local governments nationwide.


Public Affairs | Public Policy


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