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Half a million dollars to strengthen access to information for minority groups in Mongolia

12-06-2009 (Beijing)


UNESCO raised US$ 560,500 for the development of broadcasting and print infrastructure in remote rural areas with minority-populations in Mongolia.

Mounting the UNESCO community radio in Deluun

Mounting the UNESCO community radio in Deluun

© Ulgii TV

© Ulgii TV

UNESCO is leading the consortium of UN agencies which are implementing the project “Comprehensive community services to improve human security for the rural disadvantaged populations in Mongolia” funded by United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security.

Under the Human Security Fund project, a TV and radio transmitter will be installed in Ulgii, the capital city of Bayan-Ulgii aimag to provide access to national radio and TV as well as increase broadcasting in native languages and dialects.

According to a UNESCO-commissioned assessment in Bayan-Ulgii by Tandem TTVS experts no local audiovisual production base is available. The transmission equipment in this province has not been renovated since 1965. In addition, printing facilities suffer from the economic hardship and lack of trained journalists. For example, the established in 2002 created Khentii Newspaper has only 100 subscribers.

“The massive media component of the project comes on heals of numerous communication and information initiatives in remote areas conducted by UNESCO, such as the translation and provision of books to Buryad language, training and internships for media practitioners and the establishment of community radio stations” says Dana Zityasheva, UNESCO’s Advisor for Communication and Information in East Asia .

UNESCO will also establish 10 community radio stations in minority areas deprived of any local access point to information. They will provide much needed weather forecasts, price up-date on the local market, cultural and political news and other relevant information. The project includes training of journalists and technicians in the community radio stations through a series of hands-on and theory courses. Up-graded printing facilities will produce periodicals and textbooks in local languages, thus boosting readership in target areas.

“In our efforts to provide information access to the most disadvantaged parts of Mongolia, we will be up against harsh weather conditions, absence of roads, unstable electricity supply, obsolete or sub-standard equipment as well as lack of trained staff” says Dana Ziyasheva . “We have observed that inequality of information access means nothing less than the exclusion of minority groups from economic, social, educational and political life in Mongolia”, she adds

Mongolia has 20 mostly rural dwelling ethnic populations: the largest is the Halh or “Mongolian” (85 %), followed by the Kazakh (7%), mostly living in Bayan-Ulgii aimag (province). The rest (8%) are divided into small groups of the Tsaatan, the Darkhad and the Buriad. These groups have maintained unique lifestyles, including reindeer herding among Tsaatans. Their linguistic and cultural traditions are endangered not by violence but by overty and neglect.

Although the 2003 National Human Rights Action Programme of Mongolia, states that “Actions will be taken to improve the dissemination and exchange of information among members of ethnic minorities in their mother language” (article “Right to information and freedom of expression”, a comprehensive media and communication policy for minorities is still lacking. Despite many media and communication initiatives in the country, the Mongolian Government has yet to address the huge challenges facing the various remote populations, such as the lack of infrastructure and the creation of a viable market for media and communication products in local languages.

In this context, the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security project aims to build the Mongolian Government’s capacity in developing, implementing and monitoring policies related to minorities’ rights to education, information and safe environment, and to promote transparency in the media in relation to minorities”.

It is expected that concrete activities implemented under this project, will lead to practical recommendations on minority-friendly policies, including access to information.