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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


The main institutions dealing with agriculture and water resources development are the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry (MOFALI) and the Ministry of Environment (MOE). MOFALI is responsible for rural water supply and contains the Department of strategic planning and Policy, which is the Water Policy and Regulation Unit (Batnasan, 2003). MOE is responsible for water conservation. Under this ministry is the Agency of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment Monitoring and the Agency for Nature, Forest and Water resources, which contains the Center for Water Research.

Currently, Mongolia has no fully developed integrated institutional infrastructure on river basin management issues.

In 2000, the National Water Committee (NWC) was established to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Water Programme (Batsukh et al., after 2005). In addition to the MOFALI and the MOE other ministries are involved in the NWC, such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Infrastructure (Batnasan, 2003).

Water management

The management of the country’s water resources is detailed in the Law on Water, enacted in 1995 to regulate the protection, effective use and restoration of water. It also focuses on capacity-building in the water sector and the decentralization of water management (Asia Foundation, 2010).

Dutch engineering companies, in close collaboration with UNESCO-IHE, plan to support the Mongolian Ministry of Environment in its mission to modernize water management in Mongolia. The project entitled ‘Strengthening integrated water resources management (IWRM) in Mongolia’ aims to introduce IWRM into the country as well as expand the knowledge and skills in the Mongolian water sector. The project initiators aim to transfer their know-how to the local community by providing training for the project partners. Meanwhile, two university courses on water management will be set up in Mongolia. The Mongolian water sector is currently facing a variety of challenges. There is a lack of safe drinking water and insufficient sanitation for the entire population (MDGs). The project started in January 2009 and is set to finish in four years. The total budget estimated for the project is €6.5 million (UNESCO-IHE, 2009).


Mongolia’s pricing policy is decentralized and local authorities are entitled to set up and revise the water tariffs (UN, 2006a). Mongolia’s Law on Water covers pricing policies intended to ensure cost recovery and the equitable allocation of water resources. In 2008, however, only 65 percent of water costs were recovered through pricing, partly because of the country’s present economic conditions. For example, although the regulation states that all water used by industry will be charged, industries are not making enough profit to pay for the real costs of water. Water use for agriculture is free, although every user must establish a contract for the use of water, while household users pay small fees for their use (ADB, 2008).

Policies and legislation

A Water Law has been in force since June 1995 and was amended in 2004 to integrate river basin management practices with the goal of better use of water resources while protecting ecosystems. The Water Law also recognizes the economic value of water, requires capacity-building in the water sector, focuses on the decentralization of water management, puts forward the need for environmental impact assessments and sets new penalties for violating water legislation (Batsukh et al., after 2005).

In 1995, the Law on Water and Mineral Water Use Fees was also enacted, establishing fees for the use of water by citizens, companies and other organizations. Other laws related to water are the Environmental Protection Law, enacted in 1995, and the Environmental Impact Assessment Law, enacted in 1998 (Asia Foundation, 2010).

The Mongolian Action Programme for the twenty-first century, the National Water Programme and the National Action Programme on climate change were approved on 1998, 1999 and 2000 respectively (Batnasan, 2003).

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands were ratified by the Mongolian parliament in 1993 and 1997 respectively, and entered into force in 1994 and 1997 (Batnasan, 2003).


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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