Mongolia: Extreme Winter Condition Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) n° MDRMN005

Situation Report
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A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Mongolia is experiencing very low temperatures and heavy snowfall since early November 2015, locally named Dzud1 . According to the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA), snow has covered 90 per cent of the total territory with conditions getting more severe, with the thickness of snow cover between 10 - 40 cm (density 0.12 – 0.24 g/

Based on the latest assessment report released from the Mongolian Government in early January 2016, 50 soums (districts) in 16 aimags (provinces) are currently categorized as experiencing Dzud while 120 soums in 20 provinces are on the edge of entering Dzud condition. Some local level governments have already declared Dzud in their respective soums as part of the early warning and preparedness measures.

The Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment has indicated that based on the weather forecast, continuous snowfall, snowstorms and temperatures are expected to persist on average of below -25 degrees Celsius during daytime and -38 degrees during night in the coming weeks. These will further affect more than 965,000 people, especially vulnerable herders living in the affected soums.

The government assessment report shared on 7 January informed that the current hard winter situation was exacerbated by last year’s drought which resulted in poor vegetation growth and low yield in hay-making. There is now a higher demand for hay and fodder due to excessive snowfall. This harsh winter situation also isolates the herders families who are living in the remote areas and blocks their access to and from the nearest urban areas where the essential public services (clinics, grocery stores, hygiene facilities and etc) are located.

In facing the extreme winter and shortage of hay and fodder, herders will start losing most of their livestock in the coming months, driving them to put more livestock on the market to exchange for cash in order to buy food, hay and other necessities. However, the oversupply of livestock has resulted in decreased prices. Since the demand for meat and meat products is low, herders are either unable to sell their livestock or forced to sell at a loss.

Delivering ambulance services to the dwellers of some soums in the western aimags with mountainous landscape has become extremely difficult. This was worsened by the lack of vehicles for delivery health services in some soums.

The Mongolian National State Emergency Committee (NSEC) convened its second meeting on the current winter situation in country on 4 January 2016, to discuss the information gathered through government assessments which were carried out in 21 provinces in late December 2015. The deputy prime minister as the head of the National State Emergency Commission followed up on certain issues and ordinances issued in the previous commission’s meeting.

Working on the information received from the government assessment and the rapid assessments done by the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS), the Mongolia government puts a high priority on maintenance of current infrastructure such as medical services and heating services. The administrations of provinces, soums, and some members of parliament have requested the State Emergency Commission to allocate additional reserves of hay and fodder to the local store points of the state reserves. The only planned action towards the herders is the hay distribution through donation and national reserves or the sale of hay at 50 per cent discount. There is also a request to provide a nationwide policy facilitating sales of meat and livestock.

Provincial emergency commissions have implemented winter preparations, made adjustments in their emergency preparedness plans, made lists of expectant mothers, children under five years of age, elderly people and persons with disabilities, and transferred soon-to-deliver pregnant women to the administrative centres. No maternal and infant mortality has been encountered.

To complement the government’s nation-wide efforts in responding to the increasing Dzud situation, the government has appealed to MRCS on 8 January to mobilize available resources to aid vulnerable herders and respond to the essential survival needs in some Dzud affected areas.