Mongolia: Extreme Winter - Information Bulletin n° 1

This bulletin is issued to information only, and reflects the current situation and details available at this time. The Mongolian Red Cross Society – has analyzed, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), that available information points toward significant humanitarian needs. The MRCS anticipates that a DREF Operation will be launched within the next week, with possible scale up to an Emergency Appeal where we will be seeking support.

The Situation

Winter in Mongolia can be extremely harsh and experience dzud (Mongolian term for a severe winter), which is a slow onset winter condition. The dzud of 2015-2016 was particularly harsh and the IFRC, in support of MRCS launched an operation to support the affected communities. This time around, unlike last winter, it is expected that dzud may mainly affect the northern parts of the country. Currently, 110 soums (townships) in 13 aimags (provinces), which is around 32 per cent of the total number of soums in country, are starting to experience hardship. The weather forecast predicts that temperatures in some areas could fall to between minus 40 and minus 50 degrees in days to come. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) estimates that it is 82 per cent prepared in terms of hay and fodder at aimag level, but they also estimate that the preparedness level in soums is less than 70 per cent due to the budgetary constraints at the local level.

Shortage of pasture and water leads to large scale livestock loss and already in some areas, the ice crust has formed making it difficult for livestock to dig through to reach grass. Approximately 16,000 households (HHs) (10 per cent of total number of HH with livestock) with some seven (7) million of livestock, must move to new pasture lands. Livestock is being affected by diseases and as a result, those areas are quarantined, prohibiting animals to move from those locations. It is envisioned that livestock hay and fodder will be the biggest need. Snow has formed up to 20 centimeters thick in certain areas making movement problematic due to road conditions. Government is in need of graders, dozers, ambulance cars, police cars and fuel.

There are approximately 2,500 pregnant women, 26,000 children and 8,000 elderly people who are living in winter pastures and they are considered the most vulnerable groups and they will receive the most support.

Action by the authorities

The Government has highlighted the need for coordination in order to reach all those affected. Principles of collaboration must be followed and Government would like to coordinate assistance. NEMA is coordinating the on-going assessments. At the moment, the Mongolian Government is requesting for humanitarian actors to assist affected herders to go through the winter with minimum losses.

The UN is also considering accessing their Central Emergency Relief Funds (CERF) for this disaster.

Red Cross and Red Crescent action

MRCS is conducting field assessments. A Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) will be launched within the next few days and the response will likely be scaled up to an Emergency Appeal. We are seeking support for this upcoming operation to support the Mongolia Red Cross respond to this disaster.