Overview of Mongolia’s Water Resources System and Management

The extreme climatic conditions in Mongolia present a challenge for the water managers in the country to provide water security for the people. Being water secure involves providing sufficient water of good quality to the population and for economic activities, protecting against waterborne pollution and water-related disasters, and preserving the ecosystems. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), together with the Asia Pacific Water Forum, has developed an analytical framework to measure water security as part of their Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) series, wherein water security scores and indexes of countries in Asia and the Pacific are compared. This publication describes the application of the AWDO approach to Mongolia, broadened with other analyses on the water security of the country.

The Water Resources System in Mongolia: 

Rainfall in Mongolia is relatively low, ranging from a yearly average of 350 millimeters in the north to 80 millimeters in the south in the Gobi Desert. In terms of water availability per capita, the average water endowment is high for the country as a whole. However, regional differences in rainfall and population result in local hot spots of water insecurity, particularly in Ulaanbaatar, where half the population lives, and in the gobi region, where mining companies depend on water for their operation. Because of the high seasonal variability of river flows and since rivers freeze in winter, groundwater is tapped as Mongolia’s main water source for drinking and industrial water. At the same time, the valuable and fragile ecology of the country necessitates the maintenance of high environmental flow

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