Mongolia: Dzud - Early Action Protocol Summary - December 2020

Situation Report
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The IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) has approved a total allocation of CHF 309,544 from its Forecast-based Action (FbA) mechanism for the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS). The approved amount consists of an immediate allocation of CHF 16,091 for readiness and pre-positioning and CHF 293,454 automatically allocated to implement early actions once the defined triggers are met.

The FbA by the DREF is a Forecast-based Financing mechanism managed by the DREF. Allocations for the FbA by the DREF are made from a separate financial component of the DREF (MDR00004) and do not affect the reserves of the DREF appeal code MDR00001. Un-earmarked contributions to replenish the allocations are encouraged.

EAP Summary

Mongolia experiences dzud which is unique to pastoral communities in Central and East Asia. it 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. The agricultural sector is the vital to Mongolian economy as it has 61.5 million livestock which contributes almost 10% of the Mongolian GDP as of 2018. Livestock provides the direct of basis of livelihood for about one fourth of Mongolia’s population and the rural dwellers make a living by herding horses, camels, goats, cattle and sheep for milk, cashmere, meat and other livestock products, which is the only source of income for them. Nomadic pastoralism in this semi-arid country is a risky that is severely dependent on extreme weather and climatic conditions throughout a year starting with arid summers and continuing with severe freezing winters such as dzud.

In 1999–2000, 2000–2001 and 2001–2002, Mongolia was hit by three dzuds in a row, in which a combined number of 11 million livestock (25% of the national herd) perished. This period also coincided with severe and extensive summer droughts and more than 12 thousand herders’ families lost their entire herds, while thousands more were pushed to subsistence levels below the poverty line by their loss of animals. The government’s disaster relief funding for a disaster of this magnitude was inadequate to meet the urgent demands of the affected population and the government requested international relief assistance in February 2000. Massive death of livestock not only affected the herders’ livelihood but also caused severe socioeconomic damage to the whole country. Many herders migrated from rural to urban areas, reversing the trend of net urban to rural migration of the 1990s and raising the urban population of Mongolia from just under 50% in 1999 to over 57%. Unemployment and poverty rose in the urban areas, Gross agricultural output in 2003 was 40% below the 1999 level and its contribution to national gross domestic product decreased from 38 to 20%.

The FbF Early Action Protocol (EAP) for dzud covers 21 provinces of Mongolia. The EAP will be implemented by Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) with the technical support from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCCC). The pre-identified early actions can reach up to 2’000 households or approximately 8’000 people throughout the country. The dzud risk map is published in November (when a solid snow cover is formed) by the National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMEM) and it gives MRCS a lead time of roughly 1 month. NAMEM developed the dzud risk map using 11 different parameters including summer condition, pasture carrying capacity, number of grazers, biomass/1500 site, anomalous precipitation, anomalous temperature, drought index, snow depth, snow cover, air temperature forecast and precipitation forecast.

The weight of each parameter is determined through multi-criteria decision analysis and weighted layers are overlaid through GIS system. Dzud risk map indicates risk in 5 different levels (very high, high, normal low, very low) and early action is triggered if 3 or more provinces have very high risk of level in more than 20% of their provincial area. The conditions for trigger have been calculated by Climate Centre to ensure it’s only activated for extreme event.

Considering a month lead time for dzud, the EAP has been developed in consultation with key departments of MRCS and external stakeholders. The EAP provides step-by-step instructions to implement the selected activities, at the time it is activated. The EAP clearly defines who takes what action when, where and with what funds.

The following key early actions for dzud have been identified:

  • Distribution of cash 240’000 MNT (90 USD).

  • Distribution of livestock nutrition kit.

With cash in hands, the vulnerable herders will be able to meet their specific needs such as hay for their livestock or medicine for themselves. The livestock nutrition kit will support the herders to keep their livestock healthy during the winter as these products are scarce in rural areas. The early actions aim to prevent the herder households from losing their livestock as it is their main livelihood.