Since the early 1990s, USAID has provided assistance to help Mongolia through the initial years of its democratic transition, to partner with the government and people of Mongolia in building the foundations for a market economy, and to strengthen institutions and capacities. The assistance program has evolved over time as Mongolia has grown and strengthened as a peaceful, stable democracy.
USAID launched its first program in Mongolia in 1991, with a grant to provide emergency assistance to the country's power plants, in part to avoid the possibility of a catastrophic shut-down in Ulaanbaatar during the winter months. Other early activities focused on emergency food supply, technical training for decision-makers and support for Mongolia’s emerging NGO sector.
As the transition deepened, USAID provided further support for infrastructure, economic and judicial reform, public financial management, and development of a market economy. With the launching of the Gobi Regional Growth Initiative in 1999, USAID became one of the first foreign donors to focus attention on business development in rural Mongolia. The Ger Initiative, begun in 2002, was instrumental in highlighting a new challenge – the dramatic growth of ger (yurt) districts surrounding Ulaanbaatar and other urban centers, as a result of internal migration, and the need to generate employment, income and economic activity in these areas as well.
Other assistance programs dealt with both strengthening capacity for disaster risk reduction and responding to natural disasters, such as severe winter weather in 2000; the successful establishment of one of Mongolia’s largest commercial banks, Xac Bank, and the rehabilitation of another major bank, now known as Khaan Bank; and helping Mongolia to cope with the global financial crisis of 2008-09.
In recent years, USAID assistance has focused on supporting Mongolia's long-term, sustainable development by strengthening governance, transparency and accountability, and by helping to build an enabling environment for private sector activity, domestic and foreign investment, and improved economic growth and employment. In support of Mongolia’s own goals, U.S. assistance objectives are: a strengthened democratic society, a productive market economy and a government that provides for the welfare of its people.