Mongolia - 'Multiple Dzud' and Drought OCHA Situation Report No. 10

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2000/0168
OCHA Situation Report No. 10
Mongolia - 'Multiple Dzud' and Drought
13 September 2000


1. In 1999/2000, the Mongolian population experienced their worst winter since 1968, in the form of a 'multiple dzud' which has been the cumulative result of the summer 1999 drought, dubbed the 'black dzud', and of last winter's huge ice cap; the 'iron dzud' and heavy snowstorms, 'white dzud'. On 11 February 2000 the Government of Mongolia appealed to the international community for assistance. This summer's unusually hot and dry weather, caused browning and growth retardation of fresh grass in dzud-affected and some non-dzud affected areas, giving rise to concerns of another 'multiple dzud'.


2. This summer's drought in Mongolia has left 50 per cent of the country dry, 20 per cent suffering from severe water shortage and more than 450,000 people in 13 Mongolian districts ('soums') affected by food shortages in the immediate term.

3. Drought affected provinces ('aimags') include most of Dundgobi, Dornogobi and Umnugobi, and some areas of Zavkhan (Bulnai and Ider counties), Khovd (Most, Manhan, Bulgan and Uench counties), Gobi-Altai (Bugat, Jargalan and Guulin), Bayankhongor (Bogt, Jinst, Baatsagaan and Bayan-Undur), Sukhbaatar (Bayandelger, Tuvshinshiree, Uulbayan and Asgat) and Hentii (Galshar county).

4. All of these provinces except Khovd, Khentii and Sukhbaatar had been affected by the 1999/2000 winter 'dzud', while Dundgobi, Zavkhan and Bayankhongor provinces counted amongst the six worst-affected areas last winter, suffering considerable livestock losses. In all of the currently affected areas, livestock herds have generally weakened and become scraggy. Little hay is available, and it is feared that the coming winter and spring will seriously endanger remaining livestock.

5. 90 per cent of Dundgobi is affected by severe drought. An estimated 741,100 livestock tended by 3,930 families are moving to better pastures in adjacent provinces, such as Tov and Khentii.

6. 47 per cent of Umnugobi is affected and 52 per cent of the pastures are either drought-ridden or dry. Apart from affecting livestock, decreased water-levels are taking a toll on wild animals such as ass and antelope. Currently there are 499,500 head of cattle in drought areas, with a further 1,241,600 livestock in dry areas.

7. It is estimated that 194 families and the 63,000 head of livestock they tend will leave Dornogobi for other provinces, and that yet more families and herds will move within the province for the duration of the winter.

8. In Sukhbaatar an estimated 60 per cent (4,000 hectares) of pasture was devastated by rodents and grassfires earlier this year, and at present 80 per cent of the province is dry.

9. The National Agency of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment Monitoring forecasts unfavourable weather conditions with a lower than average precipitation level, especially for areas where dry and drought conditions prevail.


10. The State Emergency Commission (SEC), the Mongolian Government body responsible for coordinating the overall emergency response, commenced 'dzud' relief activities in December 1999 and completed its relief efforts on 1 May 2000.

11. On 25 July 2000, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture took measures to increase hay and fodder production in unaffected areas for distribution amongst the affected rural population, and to provide provincial authorities with loans to cover the purchase of hay and fodder, the repair of existing wells and the installation of hand-operated wells. Arrangements were made for the relocation of families and their herds from four drought affected provinces and for winter stocks and insulation.

12. The Minister of Food and Agriculture and the Minister of the Environment issued a joint order appointing a 'Working Group' to appraise drought conditions for the entire country and to organize preparations for the winter. Some members of the Working Group have undertaken field trips to Dundgobi, Dornogobi, Umnugobi and Sukhbaatar.

13. Meanwhile, the Government of Mongolia has made more than TUG 650 million (approximately USD 600,000) available for the purchase of relief items.


14. On 3 April 2000, the UN Inter-Agency Appeal for Mongolia 'Dzud 2000'- An Evolving Disaster - was launched under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator with the assistance of the OCHA Regional Disaster Response Advisor for Asia. The appeal requested USD 2,981,000 from the international community for urgent response to the Mongolian emergency during the months of April, May, and June when the highest animal death rate was predicted, and for short and medium-term rehabilitation needs during a one-year period.

15. The United Nations Disaster Management Team (UN-DMT) in Ulaanbaatar regularly organizes and coordinates information sharing meetings for NGOs and donors, ensuring close cooperation with the SEC, IFRC and the Mongolian Red Cross. The UN-DMT also attends the Mongolian Government emergency relief meetings. In addition, the UN-DMT procured, delivered and monitored USD 196,000 worth of emergency relief supplies provided by and/or channelled through OCHA to 3,170 herders families in 9 districts of 3 provinces. The UN-DMT is implementing projects with funds provided by New Zealand, the Netherlands and UNDP for a total amount of USD 205,521.

16. The UNDP has commenced a "Lessons Learnt" study of the 1999/2000 dzud, which will enable the government (central and local), herders and donors to extract lessons from the emergency relief activities carried out in response to this multiple disaster, in order to contribute to greater preparedness, and to explore ways in which to achieve longer-term sustainable livestock development. The study will be available in late October.

17. In March 2000, the Technical Coordination/Special Relief Operation Services (TCOR) from FAO fielded a crop/livestock expert to assess the impact of the disaster on the agriculture and livestock sector and tailor projects to the relief and rehabilitation of the agriculture sector. Based on the findings of this mission, on 12 May 2000, the TCOR launched an appeal to the donor community in Rome for an amount of USD 4.5 million in order to assist targeted households over the next 18 months. To date, no contribution/pledges have been received. The TCOR is currently implementing project TCP/MON/9066, for the 'Provision of animal health inputs and animal feed to assist the restocking of severely affected households in snowstorm affected areas' which was approved in July 2000 for an amount of USD 322,000. The project aims to assist 1,200 vulnerable households (6,000 people) in the four most affected aimags; to resume rangeland livestock production and promote economic recovery.

18. UNICEF recently undertook a drought assessment mission to Dundgobi and Uvurkhangai. A report on early warning systems and disaster preparedness is currently being finalised, and will be available shortly.

19. After an initial appeal in February 2000, IFRC launched a revised appeal in March to support 35,000 beneficiaries suffering from the 'dzud' with wheatflour, rice and winter boots, for two six-month terms covering the period up to next March. Once the final distribution within phase 1 from March to September 2000 is completed, 6,300 households will have received a 6 month supplementary food ration of wheatflour and 2,827 pairs of working boots will have been distributed to households that were not included in the food distribution. In addition, 21 tons of rice will have been distributed.

20. Donor organizations and NGOs have commenced rehabilitation programmes in the pastoral management sector in an attempt to stem the tide of deterioration. However, these will need to be continued for some years before lasting rehabilitation can be achieved.

21. So far 18 Governments as well as the European Commission and the World Bank have contributed emergency relief funds, either through UN agencies or via their embassies. In total, OCHA has recorded USD 7,410,964 of emergency funds that have been made available to assist Government relief efforts. However, more assistance in the sectors of livestock, food security through agriculture, water supply and pastureland irrigation, nutrition, health, education, coordination and monitoring is vital to the prevention of malnutrition in the worst affected herders, particularly with the prospect of a second harsh winter looming.

22. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of bilateral relief missions/pledges/contributions and their corresponding values by item.

23. Any future updates on contributions to this disaster may be found by clicking on Financial Tracking at the top of the page for this disaster on the OCHA Internet website ( Donors are requested to verify this table and inform OCHA Geneva of corrections/additions/values. Donors are encouraged to notify OCHA Geneva of their contributions to this disaster using the OCHA Standardized Contributions Recording Format, available electronically in the above-mentioned Financial Tracking website.

24. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet website at as well as on the UNDMT Ulaanbaatar website at

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers: Ms. S. Metzner-Strack / Mr. R. Mueller / Mr. S. Matsuka direct Tel. +41-22-917 21 44 / 31 31 / 40 34

Press contact:Mr. Donato Kiniger-Passigli, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
Ms. Phyllis Lee, OCHA N.Y. direct Tel. +1 212 963 48 32


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