If the title of this post is a bit confusing, maybe it will help if I explain what a ger is.
A ger is basically a large portable tent made from a wooden frame covered with felt. Some of you may be familiar with the term yurt; the Mongolian ger is the same thing, just a different name. These have traditionally been the homes of Central Asian nomads, but nowadays, families may live in a ger right on the outskirts of a large city without being nomadic.
Now, they might not look like much on the outside, and you could be forgiven for assuming that people who live in gers must have a very rustic lifestyle, what with being “off the grid” and all.
Wait, are those kids playing a video game?! So they must be getting electricity somehow!
When I first learned about gers I assumed that any electricity the inhabitants used must be from diesel generators or something similar. But, as a friend of mine brought to my attention by sending me this article, Mongolia’s nomads are way ahead of the times when it comes to powering their homes with renewable energy.
Yep, that would be a solar panel! A recent initiative by the Mongolian government is working to equip the many, many gers out on the open steppe with portable “solar home systems.” Almost 70% of their nomads already have access to electricity thanks to these solar panels! Obviously electricity is beneficial in numerous ways, but the article points out how it has enabled nomads to use cell phones to stay in touch with distant family members, including their children who often attend boarding schools far away in the city.
And now I know that if I end up living in a ger in Mongolia, I have some hope of having electricity! Yay!
(I’m not holding my breath for access to running water, though.)