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Twenty-first century nomadic city: Ger districts and barriers to the implementation of the Ulaanbaatar City Master Plan



Since the early 1990s, Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, has experienced rapid rural to urban migration and population growth resulting in the growth in informal settlements across the city. The informal settlements are known as ‘ger’ districts. In response to these pressures, since the 1990s, the central government has adopted a programme of land reform and metropolitan planning. These new reforms take place in the context of a unique, post-socialist political, economic and institutional context. The land reform process has attempted to privatise land ownership, which has traditionally resided with the state. The privatisation process was initiated under the new Constitution of Mongolia, which initiated reforms in all sectors of social and economic development, and since 2003, targeted land reform in ger districts. Running parallel, a series of urban land-use planning schemes have been introduced to frame the development of Ulaanbaatar in the context of an emerging market economy. Although master plans for urban development have been established since the 1950s, urban land-use planning is a new concept in this emerging market economy. The aim of this paper is to trace the rationales and challenges of implementing master plans and land privatisation processes in Ulaanbaatar. Drawing on interviews with city, national and local government officials conducted in 2009, the paper focuses on the implications of these reforms for both the government and the residents of ger districts.

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