Mongolia: extreme cold forces families from traditional living to urban slums – IFRC
Outside of the city of Ulaanbaatar the Mongolian nomadic peoples live a lifestyle that has all but died out elsewhere in the world. Their childlike curiosity and interest in visitors does not inspire jealousy or envy. Their lives are hard, unimaginably hard, and you can see this etched on their faces. Yet their lives have a simple quality: work to provide for their livestock and their families with little concern for what is not necessary. Community spirit is alive in individual family groups of between two and five gers (their tented homes) working in conjunction with their neighbours to make the best use of the sparse grazing land. Consumerism is not a good idea when you pack up all your personal belongings, furniture and heavy felt tent to “move house” every two or three months. Just enough vehicles for you and your neighbours in your area to share makes more sense than having more than you need or can afford. There is little in the way of “keeping up with the Joneses” here. The few luxuries in recent years are solar or wind generated power to run a few lights and the satellite TV. This is a form of living easily seen as “poverty”, but being forced to abandon your way of life to live in the slums of Ulaanbaatar, a sprawling city that contains easily a third of the entire population of the whole country, leads to a far greater poverty: poverty not only of low income, but now a social poverty borne of a loss of livelihood, independence, self-sufficiency, pride, family and community connections, and a whole way of life.