Due to recent droughts occurring in Urgamal soum of Zavkhan province and the consequent water shortage for livestock, herder families are on the constant move, migrating to neighboring soums in search of better pastures and encampments for the cattle. This migration of long distance contributes to pressing issues facing herder women such as isolation from water sources, unavailability of medical and health services, economic damage, and separation from family members.
Women of this soum asked for support from “Urnukh khugjil” (“Flourishing Development” in English) NGO operating in the center of the province, deeming that the pressing issues are mainly caused by the fact that a gold mining company uses groundwater for its mining operations without any permission.
“Urnukh Khugjil” women’s NGO has been working on women’s rights issues for more than 10 years and tackling women’s rights and environmental issues since 2016, gaining rich experience in doing advocacy and monitoring; it has managed to raise the issues of polluted drinking water and had the authorities resolve this problem in the past.
The organization conducted Gender Impact Assessment (GIA) in collaboration with local women targeting herder women living in the affected zone by the goldmine on the territory of Tosguur bag of Urgamal soum and started documentation, evidencing, and research to find out root causes of drinking water shortage in the local areas ever since Force Gold Mining company started mining for gold.
They revealed the following facts for the public to know and conducted relevant advocacy work:
- Even though the task force of Zavkhan province concluded the implementation of the 2017 environmental management plan of Force gold mining company at 64 percent, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism approved the 2018 management plan of Force gold mining Co. Ltd., violating the law.
- The company used its license on water-subsistence and reconnaissance for exploration.
- They connected their water pipes with the underground water line and used water illegally.
- They demolished the facility of the drilled well used by herders to water their cattle without any permission and changed the depth in which the well pump is located.
- Based on its unplanned inspection on the mining operations of Force gold mining Co. Ltd., General Agency for Specialized Inspection (GASI) maintained that it conducted mining exploration on the territory without a special license.
Results: The women have evidence to conduct their advocacy now and met with province and soum authorities and organizations supervising these issues in order to end rights violations caused by the negative impacts of the mining; the GASI of the province ordered the operations of the company to stop on a temporary basis as a result of the pressure of women’s actions to close the gold mine. In addition, they sent a formal letter to the task force to assess the environmental management plan and the head of the Environment and Tourism Department. They managed to include a representative of women’s NGOs in the task force to assess the environmental management plan.
“Urnukh khugjil” NGO of Zavkhan province, implementing organization of the project, “Let us develop together and demand accountability!”
 Annex 3 of the Minister of Environment and Green Development regulation, dated January 6, 2014, “Development, adoption, and reporting of environmental management plans.” If the arithmetic average of the implementation of component parts of the environmental management plan of the year is lower than 80 percent, it will be deemed as “insufficient.”