Female-Headed Vegetable Growers in Ulaanbaatar - Mongolia

This initiative is activating women to help green Mongolia’s capital, tackling its serious air quality problem. “Female-Headed Vegetable Growers in Ulaanbaatar” is assisting urban women in establishing gardens and planting trees across the city, reducing pollution and helping disadvantaged women earn a little extra cash.

Fast facts:

  • 10 women’s groups in 2 districts

  • 260 women activated as gardeners

  • Each tree planted removes 28 to 38 kilograms of dust from the air each year. Dust is a major air pollutant in Ulaanbaatar

The problem

In Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, air pollution has become a major problem – especially during the cold season when rain cannot wash the air clean. Dust kicked up from properties and unpaved roads is a major pollutant, diminishing air quality and harming people’s health.


Ulaanbaatar’s densely-populated Songinokhairkhan and Bayanzurkh districts house many poor ex-herder households who lost their animals during the recent extreme winter. About 30 percent of the people there – who live in gers, or a type of traditional tent with a wooden frame – suffer from respiratory disease, due to the city’s poor air quality.


The solution

With support from the Rural Investment Support Centre, this initiative is training unemployed women – mainly single mothers – to grow vegetables. The women have established gardens outside, also collectively in greenhouses. Households also planted trees, lawns, and flowers on their land and across the city. By the project’s end, willow, elm, and acacia will grace 3,805 square meters in the city, and aspens will line 318 meters of roads.

Helping the planet

Trees and other shrubbery produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, increasing air quality while storing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The trees also remove dust from the air, contributing to a cleaner and greener city.


Helping people

Vulnerable women trained on vegetable growing are able to become more self-sufficient, making them better able to care for themselves and their children. A greener and cleaner urban environment translates into higher quality of life for all city dwellers.


Spillover effect

The greening effort has found support among local governments and donor agencies, which will help it expand. Tree-planting is a simple, low-effort activity that shows concrete results, which makes it a good option for large-scale citizen implementation.



Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.