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Herders in Bayan-Ulgii Improve Citizen Participation in Decision-Making

2016-04-19 148

For years, herders from Ulaanhus soum of Bayan-Ulgii aimag have implored local politicians and administrators to work more closely with citizens, in an effort to improve governance at the local level. Their main message was that bagh governors should be more pro-active in representing their rights and bagh citizens meetings needed to be more effective and transparent in order to avoid discrimination throughout the decision-making process. During the spring of 2013, herders initiated negotiations with soum citizens meeting members to address this issue.  In response and as a result of these negotiations, soum and bagh governors set up a mechanism where herders’ Pasture User Group (PUGs) leaders could be involved during the decision-making at the bagh level. After a series of meetings and negotiations, the soum citizens meeting members in collaboration with the soum governor established a Bagh Citizens Council (BCC). This Council serves as an extension of the bagh citizens meeting, but provides specific avenues for PUG leaders to become involved and gives them additional voting rights in terms of local decision-making on issues specifically related to their livelihoods. 

Today, their voices and needs are heard, and their opinions are reflected in the bagh citizens meetings, which has in turn made a significant difference for local herders. The bagh governor has visibly become more conscious and accountable to the local community. This experience was highly appreciated by the aimag governor who, in turn issued a decree in June 2013 to share the Ulaanhus soum success story through the whole aimag and assisted in the funding of BCC activities from the soum budget. As of October 2013, 93 Bag Citizens Councils (30% of total Baghs in the aimag) were created in Bayan-Ulgii aimag. 

According to aimag government reports, members of BCC actively participate in local community development projects and a growing number of herders are getting involved in the collective marketing of sheep wool (70%, up from 25% in the  previous year). This is mainly due to activities organized by the newly created Bag Citizens Councils.

Written by The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)'s Green Gold Project, edited by CSLSB.  All rights Reserved.