We interviewed Country Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Mongolia Yolanda Fernandez Lommen on May 8, following the press tour to Selenge aimag.
Share with us your impression about your visit to Selenge aimag? What do you think about the implementation of ADB-funded projects in the aimag?
-I greatly enjoyed the visit to Selenge aimag. It was an excellent opportunity to visit important projects that ADB is implementing in Mongolia. In Selenge, ADB is supporting different sectors including the development of modern cross border facilities that will foster trade, tourism, and investments in Mongolia, generating income and employment opportunities. This is supplemented with another project that will strengthen quarantine facilities at the border and bring sanitary and phytosanitary standards in Mongolia up to internal standards boosting Mongolian exports, in particular exports of meat, which have great potential. In addition, we are supporting the health sector with important investments in the central hospital in Sukhbaatar to upgrade critical facilities like the sterilization unit, the microbiology department, the blood bank, and the management of medical waste. These areas are essential to ensure highquality medical services and largely contribute to saving lives. Moreover, I was impressed by the excellent work done by civil society organizations in Selenge under our technical assistance project to promote gender equality, another important aspect for society. The combined impact of all the operations in Selenge and its citizens is thus far reaching.
How many projects is ADB currently implementing in Ulaanbaatar? In which area are the most of them being carried out?
-We are supporting the Government of Mongolia and the Municipality of Ulaanbaatar in various sectors including air pollution, affordable housing, health services, education, waste management, transport, renewable energy, financial sector services, among others. While our geographic presence is highly visible in the ger areas most of our projects benefit the city widely.
The Ulaanbaatar Urban Services and Ger Areas Development Investment Program is one of the most important projects in Ulaanbaatar. What are the features of the project and what outcomes are expected?
-The investment program aims to promote an inclusive peri-urban development in Ulaanbaatar City’s ger areas. Combining spatial and sector approaches, it will introduce sustainable urban services and support the socioeconomic development of urban communities in subcenters located in ger areas. The program will: (i) support urban governance, livelihood and socioeconomic activities through land use planning, and improved access to financial services; (ii) extend and upgrade appropriate and affordable water supply, wastewater collection, and district heating infrastructures; and (iii) improve the operation and maintenance capacities of service providers, and enable sound institutional and regulatory settings for service delivery.
As for the Fourth Health Sector Development Project, why did ADB choose Songinokhairkhan district? What is the current implementation status of the project?
-Songinokhairkhan district is the most densely populated in Ulaanbaatar and the poorest district. Poverty alleviation and brining basic public services to the vulnerable is a key aspect of ADB’s mandate. In addition, the existing district hospital lacks the capacity to provide services in difficult periods, like for instance, during the flu season, when many children are sick and require urgent medical attention. Implementation is progressing well, and construction work is scheduled to be completed in late December this year.
How much has the Asian Development Bank invested to Mongolia so far?
-The Asian Development Bank has been Mongolia’s largest multilateral development partner since 1991, playing a central role in the country’s transformation to a middle-income, market-based economy. ADB has approved sovereign loans totaling USD 2.3 billion, nonsovereign loans totaling USD 105.1 million, grants of USD 313.9 million, and technical assistance projects worth USD 161.1 million for Mongolia.
The current ADB Country partnership strategy for Mongolia is coming to an end next year. Do you think the Strategy is being implemented successfully?
-The Country Partnership Strategy covers the period from 2017 to 2020 and has been effectively implemented to date. This strategy has committed more than USD 1.2 billion in relevant projects throughout various sectors and is the largest allocation of ADB funding since we started operations in Mongolia 28 year ago. Our expectation is for all the activities and planned operations to be completed by mid-2020, when we will start the preparation of the new strategy.
On which areas will the next country partnership strategy put higher focus?
-As the current strategy remains valid until December 2020, we have not yet initiated discussions with the Government of Mongolia on the main pillars for future work that would be central to the new strategy. The strategy is jointly prepared with the Government of Mongolia and closely aligned with the Government Action Plan. These approaches will be followed in the preparation of the new strategy