Mongolia: Snowfalls Appeal No. 02/03 Operations Update No. 3 (reissued)


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Launched on 17 January, 2003 for CHF 3,906,000 (USD 2.85 million or EURO 2.67) for 10 months for 115,000 beneficiaries; budget decreased to CHF 3,147,000, and now inreases to CHF 3,147,000.

Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) Allocated: CHF 300,000

Beneficiaries: 115,000 people or 23,000 families revised to 96,565 people or 19,313 families.

Operations Update No. 3

Period covered: 1 May to 15 October

Last Update: 11 June 2003


Appeal coverage: 106%
Related Appeals: 2003 Annual Appeal for Mongolia (No: 01.68/2003)
Outstanding needs: N/A

Summary: Despite difficulties due to funding, logistics and procurement, the relief operation continues to bring much needed assistance to many rural and urban communities of Mongolia. A review of a number of objectives has been undertaken by the Mongolia Red Cross Society and the Federation. This has taken into consideration the availability of resources and capacities with which to implement them. The revision of the budget that accompanied the review allowed for adjustments in exchange rates and budget lines peculiar to the field operation. Although some activities have had to be deleted from the original plan, the principle activities of the programme will be completed on time.

Operational Developments.

As explained in the first and second operational updates, March and June 2003, an assessment of the situation in Mongolia was made in November 2002 wherein it was decided that an Emergency Appeal should contribute to the dzud survival and recovery of the most affected populations in seventeen aimags1 of Mongolia through the provision of wheat flour, children's warm clothes, and adult boots.

The original planning figure of 115,000 beneficiaries was revised to 96,565 people (or 19,313 families) following a detailed assessment exercise in the urban Ger districts of Ulaanbaatar. This sought to identify the number of beneficiaries who could be positively verified2 according to the criteria for support as unregistered 3urban poor (refer Table 1). Table No 2. describes the criteria of support for the overall program.

Table 1.

Criteria for Support of Urban Poor
Extended families with more than eight members.
Families with more than four children under sixteen years of age.
Families with members who are home bound or bed ridden.
Families with members who may have physical challenges.

Table 2.
Criteria for Support for the overall program
Impoverished herders
Ex herders in soum and aimag centers
The urban poor

In addition to contributing to relief needs for improving household economies, this operation also focused on building the capacity of the Mongolia Red Cross Society (MRCS) to reduce longer term vulnerability. This aimed at revitalizing Red Cross local branches (primary organizations) in seventeen soums4 and three aimags by using the current relief operation to improve standards and operational capacities. (Please see Capacity of the National Society, first objective)

Owing to a request by the National Society this objective has been amended, but the overall strategy remains broadly the same allowing the MRCS to give emphasis to seven regional Disaster Preparedness Centers which are to be created within seven existing aimag branches of the MRCS. It will also allow organizational development of a further eight soum branches of the MRCS. This initiative is intended to:

  • strengthening capacities of MRCS in disaster preparedness (DP) and disaster response (DR).

  • improve standards of dissemination of DP information and training in regional centers.

  • intensify participation of volunteers in disseminating information concerning disaster prevention, and facilitate improvement in their working environments and conditions.

Of the centers to be established, six are to be established in the provinces of Mongolia and will represent a number of other Aimags immediately adjacent to them with one facility dedicated to Ulaanbaatar and located within the city branch of the MRCS.

While the country has been addressing the results of summer drought and winter dzud for a number of years it is aware of its susceptibility to other natural disasters such as earthquake. Consequently the Disaster Center to be established in Ulaanbaatar5 will serve the nine districts of the capital and up to a 800,000 people. For lesser forms of emergency,Steppe and forest fire, cholera, marmot (bubonic) plague, foot and mouth disease, brucelosis as well as the increasing amount of traffic accidents contingeny plans are accounted for by the relevant Mongolian authorities.

As the result of launching the appeal in January, the first round of distributions by the MRCS and the Federation started promptly, and were considerably earlier than in previous years. Thereafter the funding was slow to crystallise causing extensive delays in the procurement. In turn these led to a series of complicated issues surrounding the market availability of wheat flour, and the extent to which we could meet the appeals commitment to supply warm clothes and top boots.

Following the positive development regarding funding in May of this year, we were largely able to implement the program as originally designed. Following a limited international tender, that has in itself created complications and delays, the second and third phases of the operation will now be implemented simultaneously. Despite delays in distribution, the MRCS and the Mongolian delegation are confident that the distributions will have a positive impact on beneficiary families.

It is argued that a nadir (the lowest point) in the household economies of herders arises prior to the harvest. However, there are those who suggest that the delivery of relief commodities will have the same socio-economic benefit at what ever time they are received by beneficiaries. Moreover, it is likely that the delivery of wheat flour, warm clothes and top boots prior to winter should make a significant difference in allowing children to attend school, and herders to cope with snow and ice when tending their livestock. As long as weather conditions do not radically deteriorate, it is hoped that all distributions and a representative amount of monitoring can be concluded by the end of November.

The medium term weather synopsis does not suggest any unusual weather conditions for Mongolia, and it is speculated by some analysts that the country may be returning to seasonal norms. However, the winter can be expected to produce pockets of severe conditions for people out on the Steppe. A traditional phenomena that can not be changed but only prepared for as far as it is possible by the families who continue a herder existence.

As referred to earlier, delays in the crystallization of funding called for a review of the original operational plan. In agreement with the national society, this was divided into three phases based on geographical regions of Mongolia.. This arrangement is still in place, but the fact that procurement of the three commodities for distribution concluded at the same time, the second and third phases of the operation will be completed concurrently. This was considered the most sensible way to proceed and will favor aimags in the extreme west of the country and on the high ground. Given that ECHO has earmarked funding for clothes and wheat flour to be spent within their contract period, the first distributions will be of commodities dedicated to the ECHO program.

Phase 1 Completed in January, this phase involved the procurement and local level distribution of 1000 MT of wheat flour to soums within THREE aimags directly to the north of Ulaanbaatar, and two smaller urban communities within the same region. These included the nominated soums within the aimags of Bulgan., Selenge, and Khovsgul, and the urban aimags of Darkhan Uul and Orkhon.

Phase 2 Funding for this phase covers the procurement and distribution of 620 MT of wheat flour to soums within TWO aimags of Arkhangai and Ovorhangay to the south of Ulaanbaatar giving 2,065 beneficiaries 300kg of wheat flour Followed by a further procurement and distribution of 360 MT to nine Ger districts of Ulaanbaatar giving 2,400 beneficiaries 150kg of wheat flour.

Furthermore, Phase 2 will cover the procurement and micro-distribution of 5,015 sets and pairs of warm clothes and top boots to active herder families in rural locations within the five aimags referred to above namely; Bulgan, Selenge, Khovsgul, Arkhangai and Ovorhangay. This was successfully completed in September of this year.

Finally, the costs of distribution of in-kind donations of 'new' and 'good-as-new' clothes to 2,400 urban poor families in Ulaanbaatar, and 383 urban poor families in urban soums in the Aimags of Bulgan, Selenge, Khovsgul, Arkhangai and Ovorhangay, and the Urban aimags of Darkhan Uul will be covered by this phase.

Phase 3 Funding for this phase will be divided between Red Cross traditional donors and ECHO. The former will cover the procurement and micro-distribution of 6,150 sets of warm clothes and 10,150 pairs of top boots, while ECHO will cover the procurement and micro-distribution of 4,000 sets of warm clothes and 3,454 MT of wheat flour. (The precise quantities of wheat flour and clothes that will have been procured under the ECHO grant will be determined by currency exchange rates ruling on the day of settlement) These commodities will service 11,515 beneficiary families in the TWELVE remaining aimags of the seventeen aimags originally targeted. Third phase funding will also cover the costs of distribution of new and good-as-new clothes received as in kind donations to 1,365 Urban Poor families in urban soums in the TWELVE remaining aimags of the seventeen aimags originally targeted.

The ECHO grant allows for significant visability and publicity of the program. This has been arranged with the Gobi Initiative managed by Mercy Corp of America which have advised and implemented a number of initiatives that gives extensive exposure to not only ECHO, but also Federation and the MRCS. These have included:

  • The printing of three thousand A2 size posters of three designs dedicated to preparedness for severe winter conditions including dzud. These include rural scenes of the preparation of hay, the preparaton of winter shelters for livestock ,and the cleaning of water wells.

  • The printing of a centre spread within a rural newspaper, using the three same pictures of rural scenes used for the posters. These have, and will be distributed over October, November and December to upwards of 60,000 families. Using the poster picture as a backdrop, a concise exposé of each organisation is written adjacent to the logos of the MRCS, the Federation and ECHO.

  • Together MRCS and the Gobi Initiative have and continue to develop a series of one minute messages to be broadcast nine times a week to the rural communities over a twelve week period commencing1 October. These refer to the need for communities on the steppe to prepare themselves for severe winter conditions including dzud.

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