I went to Arkhangai Aimag in Mongolia for two weeks to live with and interview herding families and co-operatives, poverty group leaders, government officials, and bank representatives. The focus of my study is the introduction of sustainable cooperatives and small businesses to rural areas, and how these will help relieve poverty. I found that several adjustments need to be made in order for there to be growth of community-based groups and co-operatives. These changes should include, first, a lowering of loan interest. Second, there should be a monitoring of government actions to avoid corruption and an increase in funding for poverty groups. Third, there needs to be a monitoring of land use. With work in these areas, there will be a growth of cooperatives and small businesses. This increase in community-based organization of herders will decrease levels of rural poverty.
During my time in the countryside, interviewing families, I carried with me a video camera. I was able to get substantial footage of several Mongolian families. In these interviews, I asked questions about poverty, weather conditions, solar panels and energy use, and small businesses and loans. These questions carried a broad array of answers, and the answers are an important record of the herders’ opinions and thoughts. The voices of the people are sometimes in alignment and sometimes contrasting the statements of politicians and poverty group leaders interviewed. The poverty problem in Mongolia is complex, and in the creation of this video and in my research, I found that there are an endless number of projects and possible solutions. Small business co-operatives are only the beginning.
Mary Niec, ’06 Grayslake, IL
Major: Community Development
Sponsor: Maria Schutt