Pastoral herding is still common in Mongolia and many people herd livestock for their living. It could be challenging to herd livestock in Mongolia where harsh climate dominates. Mongolian herdsman experience dzud which is unique to pastoral communities in Central and East 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. As stated by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMEM) on 12 January 2020, over 70 per cent of the country is covered by 10-30 cm snow layer and 41 soums out of nine provinces in white dzud condition while 51 soums out of 16 provinces (Table 1) are near white dzud.
Each year, National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMEM) publishes Dzud risk map which uses summer condition, pasture carrying capacity, livestock number, anomalous precipitation and temperature, snow depth, biomass, drought index, temperature forecast etc. to predict which regions may experience severe winter condition. On 2 January 2020, dzud risk map was published (see Figure 1) and 97 soums of 13 provinces were at very high risk, which triggered Dzud EAP for Mongolia.
Currently, as stated by Joint assessment team of NEMA and MOFALI, Arkhangai, Bulgan, Govi-Altai, Dundgovi, Uvurkhangai, Sukhbaatar, Khovd, Khentii and Zavkhan provinces are experiencing severe winter as the local hay and fodder reserves are already used up at soum level. The herder households who are in the affected areas are in great need for cash, livestock medicines and food and nutrition. As it is difficult for livestock to dig under the snow to reach for grass, many of the livestock are injured, especially in western provinces and livestock are perishing due to malnutrition.
In December 2019, the Government of Mongolia decided to allocate a funding of 1.7 billion tugriks to provinces higher risk of being affected by dzud. The following allocations were made by the government:
- Allocated 50 million tugriks to Uvurkhangai, Arkhangai, Dundogovi, Tuv, Bulgan, Zavkhan, Khuvsgul provinces where most herders migrate or go on otor.
- Allocated 1,710 tons of hay without charge, 1,370 tons of fodder at 50% discounted price to Dundgovi, Uvurkhangai, and Tuv provinces.
- Allocated 10 vehicles to Local Emergency Authority, Agency for Food, Agriculture and Health Centers in Uvurkhangai, Dundgovi, Bulgan, Tuv and Khuvsgul provinces.
- Allocated veterinarian medicines and nutrition items worth of 40.3 million tugriks to Uvurkhangai, Dundgovi, Tuv, Zavkhan and Khuvsgul provinces. Mongolian government also limited bran export until 01 April 2020 to protect internal market and keep the price stable and increase the supply to the herders.
In addition, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Mongolia is planning to deliver assistance (cash and animal care kit) to herder households in Dundgovi, Dornogovi and Uvurkhangai province in collaboration with MRCS.
UNICEF Mongolia, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and the Zavkhan Governor’s Office are piloting a cash transfer for children during climate related shocks in Bayantes, Tes, Ikh-Uul and Tosontsengel soums of Zavkhan province. The current condition in these soums are classified as white dzud (severe winter). The pilot cash transfer implemented through the Child Money Programme system is to benefit all children in the age group of 0-5 years old.