Close ties of the remotest village of western Mongolia to Switzerland

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Local news, 30.10.2017

Swiss General Consul and Head of Cooperation Gabriella Spirli visited the small village of Khukh Khutul in Ulaan Khus soum, Bayan-Ulgii province, in the far west of Mongolia on 18 October.

Painted orange and green, it’s hard to miss the new kindergarten in Khukh Khutul. © SDC

In this remote part of the country, Ticino-based Swiss NGO “La mensa e il gregge” supported the construction of a new kindergarten. The initiative benefited from cooperation with SDC projects in neighbouring provinces.

Khukh Khutul and its close ties to Switzerland
It’s a long journey to the village of Khukh Khutul at the foot of the Altai Mountains. Located more than 1300km from Ulaanbaatar, it is further from the capital than Beijing in China. While it may be remote, it does have close ties to Switzerland thanks to “La mensa e il gregge”. The Ticino-based NGO was founded in 2003, and since its inception has been dedicated to supporting the livelihoods of Mongolia’s nomadic herders. In an interview in a local newspaper, “La mensa e il gregge” President Matteo Bellinelli said: “We have chosen Khukh Khutul village for its remoteness and because we have special heart for the Kazakh ethnic minority who, just like we Swiss Italians, belong to a minority in Switzerland.” “La mensa e il gregge” is part of the Federation of Swiss Italian NGOs (FOSIT), and is indirectly supported by SDC.

A warm kindergarten for 100 children
Painted orange and green, it’s hard to miss the new kindergarten in Khukh Khutul. Its construction was a “La mensa e il gregge” project, and it opened in September 2017 following two years of planning. The kindergarten director proudly showed Ms Spirli around the new facilities, which can accommodate up to 100 children aged from two to five years in four classrooms. Everyone in the village is appreciative of the NGO’s work, as is the Bayan Ulgii governor, who was on hand at the inauguration, and the aimag government, which contributed about 20 percent of the construction costs and will finance the kindergarten’s operations and maintenance.

Cooperation with SDC project improved thermic insulation
Thermic insulation is vital during Mongolia’s extremely cold winters in providing warmth and reducing energy consumption. The thermic insulation in Khukh Khutul kindergarten meets modern standards thanks to cooperation with SDC’s Public Investment in Energy Efficiency (PIE) Project implemented in neighbouring Zavkhan and Khovd aimags. “I am particularly pleased that SDC’s PIE Project partnered with the NGO to improve the kindergarten’s thermic insulation,” Ms Spirli said. “As a result, children in Khukh Khutul enjoy a better and warmer kindergarten and we contribute to energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.” The PIE Project has supported the thermic retrofitting of public schools, kindergartens and hospitals, and has achieved notable results. The cooperation also proved beneficial for the construction company based in the aimag centre, which will adopt the new technology in future construction work.

Mrs Gabriella Spirli, fourth from the left, with local authorities and representative of La Mensa e il Gregge Mr B. Lkhagvachuluun (second from right) © SDC
Kids at the kindergarten during naptime. © SDC