A joint team of experts of SLP and Green Gold Project organized a field learning mission on  collective action models (GG’s Pasture User Groups, and SLP’s Herder Groups) supported by an external consultancy of AGRIDEA (Switzerland) in five soums in western and eastern Mongolia. The mission aimed at comparing the effects of the two approaches and not to evaluate the project approaches, but to learn from both approaches’ strengths and weaknesses, and to draw conclusions about future orientations.

SLP’s HG approach mainly focuses risk reduction issues with an economical orientation. Herder groups are invited to submit proposals to improve their livelihood and minimize their risks. The proposals are discussed at bag, soum and aimag level and their funding finally endorsed by the project HQ based in Ulaanbaatar. The main idea is to build and institutionalize a bottom-up and participatory pastureland and risk management model. Proposals by herder groups are incorporated into annual soum pastureland and risk management plans. Thus, SLP strengthens capacity building of the government structure at all levels.
GG’s PUG approach targets at transforming open access to public pasturelands into a controlled management system led by Pasture User Groups of herders (PUGs). Herders who share an access to 4 season pastures form a Pasture User Group, and develop and agree on common pasture land use plan and regulations that all its members required to follow.The annual pasture management plan at the level of PUGs, aggregated to a soum level pasture management plan is one key tool of this approach. PUGs are aggregated at a soum to an association (APUG) with the functions to coordinate inter-PUG, inter-bag and inter-soum rotational grazing and movement of herders. The PUG organization has also created a condition for improved collective marketing accessible to PUG members while facilitating a creation of herder business cooperative at the APUG.
The main strength of the HG approach is in the simple trust-based structure with an easy decision making. The main strength of the (A)PUG approach is in the formal structure recognized by the soum, and being able to enforce pasture land planning and implementation at a broader scale.
HG and PUG are not to be seen as competing forms of organizing herders, rather than as complementing each other. Some activities are better undertaken by the small HGs, other by the bigger PUGs or even APUGs. HGs risk to be founded just for the sake of getting access to the 90% project subsidy of SLP. A HG can apply only once for a support from the project.
GG’s matching fund is a rather complex structure with a binding membership. It is based on a 50% subsidy for collective projects and gives access to short term soft loans for individuals.