SECURING THE RIGHTS OF HERDERS IN MONGOLIA
As part of the construction of a new wind power plant in the Gobi Desert, special attention was paid to improve the living conditions of a number of nomadic people and their animals located in the area.
At first glance, the Gobi Desert is gold with no sign of life. However, if you take a closer look, you can see signs of life, or at least indication of life from herders living in the area a few months ago. These herders’ camps are located in the proximity of an area where a large 55MW wind power plant is now under construction.
The wind power plant Sainshand Salkhin Park LLC is located in the Gobi Desert 460 km southeast of Ulaanbaatar and will consist of 25 wind turbine generators (WTGs). The area where the wind turbines are being erected is partly used by a limited number of Mongolian herders, either for their summer or winter camp respectively. During the investment process, a comprehensive consultation process was conducted to meet international standards, including a description of the procedure for compensation of land and other assets affected by the project.
– It is important for IFU to use our leverage to ensure that our investments comply with international standards and practices, and that our investments do not violate human rights. Together with our partners and a number of specialised consultants, IFU has managed to create a project in the Gobi Desert that is commercially viable and at the same time safeguards the rights of the indigenous people in the area where we will operate, said Tommy Thomsen, CEO at IFU.
Identifying the affected herders
The Mongolian herders live in their own felt tents called “gers”. A ger is the universal traditional dwelling that has been adapted over the centuries to the realities of nomadic life in the harsh desert steppes. It weighs from 150 to 300 kg and is easily dismountable and transportable. To secure adequate grazing for their animals, the herders move their camp according to the season.
The locations of the winter and summer camps, which have been identified in proximity to the project area, have been identified through direct engagement with herders, field investigation, registry investigations with representatives from the local administrative unit, and by cross-checking with other herders.
Engaging the affected families in the compensation process
The families who were identified as potentially using the project area across the year were engaged in a hearing process to secure a proper compensation process, including a grievance mechanism. The purpose of this process was to gain an in-depth understanding of the livelihood of the involved families, including their livestock (goats, sheep, cows, horses and camels) to assess the adequate compensation either as in-kind or cash.
All compensation agreements have been signed by the involved herders. The compensation is a combination of different measures, including a cash compensation of 75 per cent of annual income derived from livestock grazing, animals, animal feed; support to identification of new camp sites and/or construction of a deep well to secure water supply.
To follow up on the compensation process, monitoring of the livelihood of the affected herders will be conducted on an on-going basis.