Mongolia Dzud Appeal 2010

11 May 2010

Mongolia has one of the coldest climates in the world, with temperatures dropping below -20ºC for several months each year.  The 2009-10 winter, which has been extremely harsh even by Mongolian standards, has resulted in increased maternal and child mortality, and an unprecedented loss of livestock and the collapse of thousands of people’s livelihoods and many basic services.  The disaster is known locally as a dzud which is a complex, long-lasting natural disaster in which a summer drought is followed by heavy snowfalls and unusually low temperatures in winter, and then by a dangerous spring thaw.  Fifteen of Mongolia’s 21 provinces, home to 769,106 people (28% of the country’s population), have been declared disaster zones, and another four are seriously affected.  An overall lack of resources prompted the Mongolian Government to appeal for assistance from the international community. 

Although the winter months are over, heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures persist in many areas, prolonging and intensifying the suffering for both people and their livestock.  The affected population is suffering from a range of factors caused by the dzud, including lack of access to health care, widespread food insecurity, loss of livelihoods, risk of a mass exodus of people from rural areas to the cities in search of alternative employment, and psychological trauma for affected herders and their families. 

The thick snow cover has also meant that livestock, vital to the lives and livelihoods of a significant proportion of Mongolia’s population, have been unable to graze.  Taken together with the summer drought, which prevented the collection of adequate amounts of forage, and with the extreme cold, this has resulted in widespread deaths of animals and in a range of serious consequences for the people who depend on them.  By the end of April 2010, more than 7.8 million head of livestock (some 17% of all Mongolia’s livestock) had perished nation-wide.  The loss of livestock, as well as a falling livestock birth rate, has had a devastating impact on affected herders and rural communities.  The livestock sector provides livelihoods for 30% of Mongolia’s population and represents 16% of the country’s gross domestic product.  At present, almost 9,000 households (45,000 people) have been left without animals and face a grim future in the coming months. 

The multi-faceted concerns raised by the disaster require a greater emphasis on combining humanitarian support, early recovery efforts and medium to longer-term interventions, as well as the formulation of strategies to prevent a recurrence of the situation and to mitigate herders’ vulnerability in the future.  The response required for the dzud is qualitatively different from what would normally be needed in other natural disasters.  Unlike sudden onset emergencies, the dzud in Mongolia has evolved slowly and has progressively widened its geographical reach, forcing ever-growing numbers of people in rural areas into a battle for basic survival.  While the disaster’s foundations were laid in the summer drought, then worsened by the extreme winter, it is in the spring time and into early summer when the worst of the impact will be felt. 

This Appeal has three strategic objectives: first, to address the most critical humanitarian needs of the vulnerable groups and institutions for the period between May 2010 and April 2011; second, to address the protracted humanitarian and early recovery needs of the affected population by means of livelihood-based humanitarian programming to prevent further or renewed deterioration into a humanitarian emergency; and third, to put in place preparedness, disaster risk-reduction and contingency planning in anticipation of worsening conditions or to deal with other disasters. 

The Appeal targets two main groups: herders and their families (749,000 individuals) who will remain in rural areas, and those who, for their own survival following the impact of the dzud, are predicted to migrate to peri-urban areas (at least 20,000 people) where they will face employment challenges and have limited access to basic social services.  It focuses on limiting further livestock losses, providing immediate income-generating opportunities and creating alternative livelihoods.  Cutting across all areas, there is a critical need to build capacity, and increase collaboration and coordination with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Government ministries, with a Government-owned, sectoral approach aimed at improving disaster preparedness and response plans an ultimate goal of this Appeal. 

To support the Government, the international humanitarian community, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies, is seeking a total of $ 18,150,794 to address the immediate, early recovery, and preparedness needs of 769,106 people affected by the dzud over a planning and budgeting period extending to April 2011.  Partners have reported funding to date of $1,375,200 to projects and activities in this Appeal, leaving unmet requirements of $16,775,594.

Document History

11 May 2010

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