Mongolia: Cold wave 2018 DREF Operation n° MDRMN007 Final Report



Description of the disaster

Dzud (or ‘zud’- зуд) is a condition created by threat multipliers and inter-linked factors that exacerbates already fragile situations of livestock herders in Mongolia. This term is unique to pastoral communities in Central Asia, and can be caused by a combination of summer drought, heavy snowfall, and high winds in concurrence with extremely low winter temperatures which combine to cause unsustainable conditions for animal survival. In this condition, mortality of the livestock is caused by a combination of starvation because of being unable to graze and access fodder due to heavy snow, ice or drought, freezing due to extreme cold temperature, exposure to storms and wind, and a weakened immune system response due to the exposure.

Mongolia has suffered from severe winter conditions known as Dzud for three consecutive years. The extremely harsh winter that continued after the drought in summer 2017 has depleted the herders’ reserves of hay and fodder. Continuous harsh conditions have put at risk millions of livestock, which are the only source of food, transport and income for almost half of the Mongolian population. As herders experienced two consecutive droughts throughout the country followed by severe winters, it did not allow herders enough recovery time to be prepared for the winter of 2017-2018.

According to an official statement of NEMA issued on 31 January 2018, about 70 per cent of the country was covered in 10-45 cm deep snow with density from 0.12-0.36 gr/cm3. Out of 330 soums in 21 provinces, 141 soums in 20 provinces and one city experienced extreme winter situation. The temperatures dropped to -30 to -46.5 degrees Celsius below freezing point during the nights. This condition persisted for the whole month of February 2018. Therefore, NEMA issued warning messages on possible extreme winter to herders and mobilized local resources such as hay and fodder to provinces that maybe badly affected and are at high risk.

The livestock death toll reached 1,116,880 by March 2018. The outbreak of livestock infectious disease in 13 out of 21 provinces of Mongolia was one of the multiplying factors that resulted in deaths of livestock aside from the harsh winter conditions.