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A consortium, directed by WS Atkins International Limited (Atkins) and supported by Sustainability East Asia LLC (Sustainability), EcoTrade LLC and Mon-Energy Co., were awarded a contract for the Mongolia Resilient Water Supply Feasibility Study by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The consortium brings together a team of highly experienced local and international experts to prepare a comprehensive feasibility study (FS). The objective of the FS is to assess the water resource management in Mongolia and to determine a priority investment programme in irrigation focused infrastructure worth approximately USD 40 million. In parallel, the group will conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) scoping study to evaluate the investment program’s impacts and benefits and identify any areas for regulation reform.

The overall objective of the project scope is to provide the EBRD with the information, analysis and recommendations it needs to comprehensively assess, approve and implement the project.

Heath Thorpe, Sustainability East Asia Director said,

We have been supporting the sustainable use of water in the Mongolian mining industry for over nine years through various projects and are proud to be applying this experience to a new sector with the aim of building an economic and environmentally sustainable future for Mongolia.”

Currently, only 12.5 per cent of all agricultural land in the country utilises irrigation systems for water management. The lack of modern irrigation infrastructure restrains the agricultural sector’s development. As agriculture is a dominant user of water resources for food production, the FS and ESIA are essential components in the planning and approval of investment projects in the sector.

Agriculture remains one possible means of diversifying the Mongolian economy, where 24 per cent of GDP is derived from the mining sector and only 11 per cent from agriculture. In 2019, Mongolia’s crop production reached 424 thousand tonnes, of which 96 per cent was wheat, valued at MNT 447 billion (USD 169 million), a sizeable contribution to the country’s GDP that can be further increased through initiatives such as developing suitable irrigation systems.

The Government of Mongolia has identified agriculture as one of the key areas for its climate actions and seeks investment in climate smart agriculture. The agricultural sector faces a number of climate risks, including drought, temperature extremes, and rainfall variability, which reinforce the need for improved water management and the development of sustainable, climate-resilient irrigation systems to increase the resilience of the agricultural sector.