Mongolia: Flash floods DREF Operation Update n° 1 (MDRMN008)

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster

In July 2018, heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in 35 soums of 13 provinces and one district in Ulaanbaatar city, in Mongolia, affecting over 2,264 households across the country. According to the latest assessment conducted in the field on 15 August, Bayan-Ulgii province was the worst affected province. A total of 3,500 people from 929 households in seven sub-divisions are directly affected by the impact of the flood waters, destruction and damage to property and rendering of essential infrastructure (toilets, power, wells) inoperable. No deaths were reported due to the flood occurring during day time. However, three people were injured and approximately 110 houses were totally destroyed.

Since the onset of the flooding, the government’s Local Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) is addressing the accommodation needs of the affected population by relocating them to school dormitories which is vacant due to school holidays and in shelters erected on the land owned by Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) where is safe from flooding.

With schools reopening from holidays early in September, the LEMA decided to close the emergency accommodation at the school dormitories. The affected population who were residing at the school dormitories (approximately 3,331 people) have moved to alternative accommodation with relatives or by renting houses or rooms. About 43 households (approximately 162 people) remain accommodated in gers 1 on the MRCS owned land. These households were relocated from from low-lying flooded areas that government has assessed for ongoing flood risk. Consequently, they deemed the area to be at too high a risk of future flooding events. The government has therefore prohibited these households from returning to the area and rebuilding homes. Given that these households are now in effect homeless and without land to build on, these households will be permanently accommodated on the MRCS land and be provided with houses when funding becomes available.

It is anticipated that most of the affected population, currently residing with relatives or renting, will progressively return to their homes in the flood affected areas, once they have been cleared of flood residue. Putting a definitive time frame to the relocation of the population back to this area is not possible given the differing state of damage to properties and capacity of households to afford costs associated with repair or rebuilding. For example, some properties are currently uninhabitable primarily due to contamination from thick mud while other properties have been totally destroyed and households will need to rebuild. Resources required for rebuilding or repair may be financially unobtainable by some of the population. In addition to clearing of flood residue which will be fully completed by LEMA very soon, a significant amount of water and sanitation infrastructure has been damaged and will required repair or construction of new wells and toilets.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has examined 177 people of 82 households for medical conditions and 60 people are provided with medicine by local health department. They have also provided psychosocial support, distributed printed hygiene promotion materials, hand washing stations, and water. They advised that the heightened incidence of diarrhea and other health issues, that are typically associated with flood affected environments with poor hygiene and sanitation, has not occurred in the flood affected population of Ulgii but the risk of outbreak remains high. Besides, MOH also surveyed the condition of toilet facilities, which out of 675 pit toilets, 449 are damaged beyond repair.

The LEMA has mobilized over 600 people and 100 units of technical equipment to the affected area and working for the recovery activities including flood water removal, restoring floodgates and dams, removing the concrete debris left by mudflow and flood sanitation infrastructure. In Ulgii, 260 hectares of thick contaminated mud and debris are covering the flooded area. The LEMA have sprayed much of the contaminated mud with sanitizing agent and cleared approximately 60% of the mud. Safe drinking water is being provided to the affected population via water trucks. This service will be maintained until demand is met by an adequate number of wells to meet population needs.

The people affected by the flooding initially struggled to find edible food since their food was contaminated and the local markets and eateries were closed due to the flooding. This situation has gradually returning to normal and food demand is being partly met by distribution of food from various agencies involved in the relief efforts.

The water pump wells are still contaminated, and the flooding initially left the local people without source of safe drinking water. A survey was conducted by the MOH on wells that supplied water to households in flood affected areas in Ulgii. It is yet to be completed, however, out of the 740 wells identified, 373 are contaminated and it is not feasible to repair them. These unserviceable wells, along with unserviceable toilets, will be filled by LEMA. A total of 136 are deemed safe for use. Response efforts by the LEMA and other agencies has improved water supply to the affected population with additional wells being established and the distribution of safe drinking water.

As shown in the table above, 8 people have died, and 72 people are injured due to flash flooding, while 5,213 livestock perished, 1,831 hectares of agricultural land are destroyed, and 529 households completely lost their gers.

The MRCS has been requested by the State Emergency Commission officially on 19 July 2018, to scale up relief assistance to the flood affected provinces. A detailed assessment was conducted subsequently by MRCS, confirming that there are needs in other locations which are not covered under initial DREF operation. Thus, in addition to the initial DREF operation, which covers Khovd and Uvurkhangai provinces, the MRCS is requesting for a second DREF allocation to support sustainable interventions in ten more provinces (Arkhangai, Bayan-Ulgii, Bulgan, Dornogovi, Zavkhan, Umnugovi, Sukhbaatar, Selenge, Tuv, and Khuvsgul) and extending the operation timeframe to four months. The number of people reached will be increased from 1,710 to 3,258 people.