Creation Care: Waste Management in Mongolia

In Mongolia, coal is the main source of fuel for many people. Because Ulaanbaatar is one of the most polluted capitals in the world, the government has recently placed a ban on burning coal. This creates immense challenges for 28% of the population who live below the poverty line. In a country with hard winters, having a reliable fuel source is vital. The government is currently exploring alternative fuel options, some of which are very similar to the briquets created by one of our partner projects.

With COVID-19 impacting the tourism industry in Mongolia and the ongoing need for fuel alternatives in the country, the waste management projects Ben Withers has been involved with have been impacted.

In spite of the challenges, the projects continue to function and grow.

Read more in OMF Billions about God leading Ben to Mongolia where he works to support and develop waste management projects. Rather than living in Mongolia long-term, Ben takes short-term trips to the country to aid and develop the work being done there.

By Ben Withers

Improving Quality in the Soap Project

The soap bars made from animal fat have gone from a fairly crude and basic soap to something which I use at home all the time. My kids use it and we sell it at church and speaking events. In Mongolia, we are working to provide it to a store that’s interested in 5,000 bars a year.

Currently, we’re trying to just get the mold and the packaging right. This is something we’re building towards.

Supporting Local Leadership

I already see what our Mongolian colleagues are doing as a success. It can develop into an income base for the workers as they are currently using it and selling it to Mongolians and tourists. Our hope is for a new retail space, which would increase the product’s exposure.

We’ve met with another man who is a pastor. He and his son make industrial soaps like detergents. In going around their facility we learned a few techniques, particularly using deionized water. We weren’t using that because I thought it was difficult to get, but now we have a source for that. Each time I go to Mongolia there seem to be additional quality improvements.

In addition, the ladies within Betel have taken real ownership of the production. Now when I visit, I just provide suggestions; it’s their project now.

How COVID Has Impacted the Projects

I’ve not been able to visit the projects for quite some time and it’s a bit difficult to keep contact with them.  It’s really not the same as being there in person. Also, the community recycling project had to stop and there have been no tourists permitted in Mongolia. We’re hopeful the negative impacts of that will be reversed quickly.

Unfortunately, one of the pieces of machinery broke down; I would love to be there to see what the problem is.

 Plans for Future Projects

My next big idea is to have a small insect farm. For example, it is possible to use a fly species to eat animal byproducts and then harvest the larvae to feed chickens. This also prevents the waste from going into the local waterway. It’s relatively simple and can be replicated just about anywhere.

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