Home Institution

University of Denver

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Mongolia: Nomadism, Geopolitics, and the Environment


Mongolia is the 8th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. The water regime of Mongolia is therefore experiencing intensive change with significant effects in the availability, distribution, and security of water resources. The implications of this change are exacerbated when aligned with poor water resource management, an issue that is prevalent as water regime change challenges current water management systems. These implications specifically affect the vulnerable rural population of Mongolian herders who maintain the practice of nomadic pastoralism. In the western province of Bayan Ulgii, the change in the numerous glaciers and other water resources that are the foundation of the livelihood of nomadic herders is significant. Thus, this study explores the implications of climate change on water resources and nomadic herders in Bayan Ulgii. In addition, this study explores the current Mongolian water management system at a local level and herder perceptions and interactions with this management. In doing so, this study assesses the current water management system and its ability to address herder vulnerabilities to changing water resources. Through interviews and observations in Ulgii aimag center, Altai soum, Altansugts soum, and Ulaanbaatar with 16 herders and 8 specialists, the significant effect of climate change on water resources is understood. Moreover, these changes pose challenges to herders’ livelihoods in regards to water supply and livestock health, fodder and pastureland health, and flooding disasters. Due to a lack of local capacity in implementing and participating in water management activity decision-making, these current challenges and water resource changes will further exacerbate herder vulnerability to climate change.


Asian Studies | Community-Based Learning | Environmental Health | Environmental Studies | Nature and Society Relations | Other Geography | Place and Environment


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