"When SGP started in Mongolia in 2002, the country had experienced the market economy for only about a dozen years. There were not many NGOs, CBOs, or other CSOs. We approached this situation strategically and started assisting existing organizations and encouraging those who wanted to establish CBOs and NGOs. Last year we evaluated our programme and identified the following stages of a strategic and pragmatic approach that has been essential for us:
1. Creative attempts and assistance in formation of CBOs and NGOs (2002-2004): Activities to rehabilitate degraded lands such as community tree nurseries with drought-resistant species.
2. Learning by doing and capacity development (2004-2007): Focus on tree nurseries and greenhouses, community fruit groves and gardens. First cases of community forestry and community based tourism. Endeavors to rehabilitate nature by activities such as beekeeping. Creation of community conservation areas. Fish conservation attempts.
3. Creation and development (2008-2011): Development of community forestry and community tourism. Community conserved area development. Fish breeding and conservation. Marketing and sale of some biodiversity products (juice, jam, fruit oil, seedlings, seeds, felt items). Application of renewable energy (solar, biogas, water flow operated pumps).
4. Management and development (from 2012 onwards). Objectives: To become a global community centre on fighting land degradation. Develop community based natural resources management. Develop community conservation areas for nationwide recognition. Assist as many forestry communities as possible (so far created over 500 countrywide). Develop and use SGP micro-credit schemes for sustainability of old grantees as well as for new grantees.
To achieve the above outcomes and impacts, SGP Mongolia adopted the networking approach. Networking is key to every success and achievement. Networks are essential tools to keep people and grantees together, learn from each other, compete with one another, access local markets as a group, and develop and act in an organized manner. We have promoted 6 networks: • Community Forestry network • Community Tourism network • Community Gardens and tree nursery network • Community Protected Areas network • Beekeeping network • Fish breeding and conservation network. Each of the networks is facilitated and guided by an NGO located in the capital city, whose major task is to support grantees in accessing local markets to ensure sustainability.
We give great attention and emphasis to field monitoring and evaluation. I believe that field monitoring is essential to the success of any project. I normally start field trips in April or May after the first disbursements have been made to grantees. Each field trip lasts 3-4 days and covers 8-12 grant or proposal sites in one route that is carefully planned to save time and funds. The first site is usually located at a distance of at least 100 km from the capital city. It is my practice that to include all possible, new, ongoing, and recently closed grant sites on a route to observe results and give advice if needed. Because of long travel distances, I manage to visit 2-4 projects or proposal sites a day, traveling until it becomes dark. Some statistics from the last 9 years of site visits:
- Total distance travelled: 240,515 km by jeep
- Travelled by horse: about 400 km in total
- Number of trips made: 186
- Number of days spent: 407
- Number of grants and proposal sites visited: 767 (cumulative)"