How Do People Survive in the Gobi Desert?

Survival in the Gobi desert is dependent on finding water. Most people who live in the Gobi desert come from generations of herder families who have learned to survive by living close to their animals and traveling constantly to find water sources.

The need to find rare and precious water within the Gobi has, over the centuries, made the Mongolian people who live there a nomadic people. They travel from place to place and live close to their herds in yurts or gers, which are circular, tent-like houses that can be taken down and packed away for easy moving.

Economically, Mongolians survive by selling cashmere and wool from their herds in the spring. Most of the people living in the Gobi have little exposure to things in developed nations, such as cell phones and television. Before the collapse of socialism, most of the people were government employees.

The way of life in the Gobi changed little in 2,000 years until conservationists began working to educate the herdsmen and women about sustainable resource use. They teach the Mongolians about over-grazing, water conservation, waste management and ecology to help them understand how best to utilize the land on which they depend for survival.