From Waste Disposal to Water Delivery: Citizen Empowerment through the Check My Service Initiative

by Undral Gombodorj

When I travel abroad and meet with my foreign counterparts, colleagues, and friends, I always ask them one question. "To what extent are you and the people of your country satisfied with the quality and delivery of public services? Can you receive the service you want?" interesting to know how the governments of other countries serve their people.

Research done by Mongolian CSOs from 2008 to 2010 showed that over 80% of respondents in the country are not happy with the public services they receive.  Although Mongolia is on the list of middle-income countries, there have been no tangible improvements in people’s lives yet. Social inequalities are rising, and the gap between rich and poor is widening.

Here are some examples. Mongolia spends around 20% of the state budget on education, but there are 40 to 50 children in a classroom, in three shifts. Too many children are crammed into a small classroom, suffer from a lack of fresh air, and get irritated and distracted. This is the situation our children endure to obtain education.  In another example, citizens pay taxes for 9 doctors to staff local family health centers, but only 5 actually work. Last but not least, citizens have to knock on ten doors to get a single document. This was the real situation. I asked myself, “Should the citizens keep silent?  Should this situation happen again and again?” My organization said a decisive “No!” and decided to do something to change things, and contribute to the improvement of public services in Mongolia.

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