With an initial 700 artisanal miners, the “Duush Mandal Khairkhan” NGO was founded in 2008 with the aim of developing socially accepted ASM by allowing miners to voice their opinions on solutions to pressing socio-economic and human rights issues, responding to the security needs of the miners, and contributing to the positive change.
At present, the organisation has about 130 members in 13 organised unions, and has conducted a range of activities to improve the ASM legal environment, uphold and protect human rights and socio-economic conditions for members, all of which have made it a model NGO.
Trainings on sustainable ASM, health and labour safety and land reclamation were particularly beneficial for partnership members in improving their livelihoods, with members seeing demonstrable changes in attitude and behaviour. Each year, up to 90 people have attended occupational health and safety trainings, 50 have attended reclamation training, up to 40 have attended health and social insurance training, and up to 80 have attended training on ASM legislation.
In cooperation with Mining Rescue Unit of the National Emergency Management Agency and the SAM Project, occupational safety and health instructions and guidelines and public advertisements were disseminated. As a result, a “rescue” team was established and a substantial drop in mining accidents and injuries were reported.
Miners have constantly faced and permission issues, but thanks to members’ efforts in advocating with the local administration, an environmental impact assessment for the “Noyod” mining area was submitted and permission was granted to being mining. They have also strengthened cooperation with local authorities through the reclamation of land as a demonstration model that was then handed back to the local government. Cooperation with local organisations has also expanded, and they are now working with the local hospital and police, and an international organisation.
The difficult working conditions have led to a number of serious health issues among miners, including respiratory diseases and back pain. By promoting the benefits of health and social insurance, more than 90 percent of members now have health insurance and more than 70 percent now have social insurance. They also collaborate with the local hospital to ensure there are annual health check-ups for members, as well as trainings on prevalent diseases. Such commitment to the wellbeing of members demonstrates that organisational development contributes to the overall health of members. Their conservation efforts have also fostered more positive attitudes among local authorities and the community.
Blasting is another common issue for miners, threatening their health and safety. Until 2015, artisanal miners illegally used and distributed blasting material. A change to this situation emerged with the help of D. Tuya, the founder and leader of the “Duush Mandal Khairkhan” NGO. With his assistance, the NGO was able to contract with Davhar Tesrelt LLC (Double Blast) to conduct blasting and build proper storage for blasting material. This has become standard good practice in Mongolia, and represents a big step forward in the protection of miners’ safety and health.
The organisation is also focused on women’s social protection and the wellbeing of households through the promotion of alternative employment avenues and the expansion of employment opportunities. To this end, the NGO supports “savings groups” set up among members that conducts business trainings and other activities. For example, “saving groups” develop project proposals and successfully manage and plan their businesses. Another good example was setting up an NGO office to enable members to come together to “gather and define problems, and discuss possible solutions” as a team. They alsoprovide financial support for members when required, such as for the construction of greenhouses to help build stable incomes.