Mongolia

Mongolia: Snowfalls Appeal No. 5/2000 Situation Report No. 1

Source
Posted
Originally published


Period covered: 23 - 25 February 2000
In the face of continuing severe winter weather, the number of affected areas is growing and livestock deaths are climbing. Funds are urgently needed to purchase food and boots for the stricken herders and their families.

The context

Severe snowfalls in large areas of Mongolia have caused the death of over 800,000 head of livestock, the mainstay of the rural economy and the sole source of food for herders and their families. The early snowfall, starting in mid September, followed a severe drought and an infestation of field rats which deprived the livestock of essential fodder and weakened their resistance to the winter. The snow was interspersed with rain which then froze on the surface of the steppes, building up an underlying ice crust. The early snowfall also disrupted the herders' preparations for the winter, arriving at a time when they gather fodder for their livestock, dung for heating their gers (tents) and food for the winter months.

Some 291,618 people in 12 aimags are now affected by the food shortages in the short term, and by the loss of their livelihood in the longer term. The government and the Mongolian Red Cross (MRC) have already distributed emergency supplies in the worst affected areas, drawing on funds and goods donated locally. On 11 February Mongolia appealed for international aid. The operation for which this appeal seeks funding will provide food supplies for three months and winter boots to the worst affected herders and their families.

Latest events

The snowfalls are now rated as being the worst to affect Mongolia in 30 years. Large areas of the country are covered in up to 100 cm of snow. Currently the number of affected areas has risen to 92 soums in 12 aimags -- an increase in the figures given in the Appeal of 10 soums and one additional aimag. The worst hit areas are Bayangkhongor, Dundgobi and Zavkhan, Uverkhangai and Uvs. So far, three deaths have been reported as a direct result of the freezing weather.

Over the past week a further 7,650 households or 53,618 people have reportedly been affected by the ongoing disaster. The majority of the victims are herders and their families, who are now facing serious difficulties following the large scale losses of their animals. The Mongolian Red Cross has reports from its aimag branches that a further 300,000 livestock have perished, bringing the total to at least 818,500 head. The prognosis of the government is that the disaster situation will continue to worsen until summer when the animals will again have enough grazing. The preliminary estimations show that in Ovorhangai aimag alone another 500,000 to 600,000 animals will be lost in the next few months. Recently, in the
soums (counties) of Bayan, Bayan-Onjuul, Buren, Erdenesant, Bayantsagaan soums, south of Tov aimag, were particularly badly affected by heavy snow fall, some 20,000 thousand animals were lost. The temperature has dropped further in the disaster areas, reaching 46 degrees below zero in Zavhan and Uvs aimags -- the coldest temperatures of the past ten years.

The herdsmen in the disaster areas are now physically exhausted after four months of coping with the disaster and the severe cold winter. The psychological impact of the loss of their valuable stock is also considerable. The MRCS reports that there has been an increase in the number of cases of malnutrition, exposure, conjunctivitis and hypertension.

Latest statistics showing the situation in the affected aimags

No.
aimag
affected soums
affected house-
holds
affected people
cattle losses per aimag as of
13 Feb
cattle losses per aimag as of
20 Feb
1 Dundgobi
15
8,200
56,900
158,000
293,800
2 Bayankhongor
6
4,500
29,250
60,000
78,800
3 Zavkhan
19
7,815
54,750
98,000
134,300
4 Uverkhangai
10
7,185
43,110
108,000
180,300
5 Uvs
11
5,860
41,020
64,000
99,900
6 Khuvsgul
5
3,100
24,800
10,000
17,200
7 Umnegobi
4
650
3,250
3,000
9,800
8 Dornogobi
4
450
2,800
2,000
4,500
9 Gobi-altai
2
140
798
700
1,900
10 Bulgan
5
2,810
14,050
900
18,200
11 Bayan-ulgii
3
210
1,050
700
9,900
12 Tuv
8
3,800
19,840
-
41,900
Total
92
44,550
291,618
505,300
818,500

Red Cross/Red Crescent action

Red Cross/Red Crescent Action

Red Cross volunteers in the aimag branches have been mobilised to assist with the distribution of relief to the most vulnerable. Relief stocks from the headquarters of the MRC in Ulaanbaataar are now being distributed to the southern aimags. A total of MNT 9.7 million (USD 9,000) worth of assistance, mainly in the form of warm clothes, food stuffs, candles and matches, has been distributed to date.

The Federation has released CHF 100,000 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund for the procurement of relief supplies.

Federation Delegation

A senior field delegate will arrive in Mongolia next week to assist the MRC with its planning activities. He will be supported by the East Asia Regional Office in Beijing.

Government Action

The Government has drawn up emergency plans for the co-ordination of relief efforts in the affected aimags. These will encompass the co-ordination of assistance both from internal and external sources. So far, the government has distributed 2,500 tonnes of hay and 480 tonnes of fodder to 12 aimags. Some of the funds raised by the national appeal will be used in the rehabilitation phase to replenish herds. An exact figure of the funds received through this appeal has not yet been published.

The Government is looking into the possibility of releasing additional relief stocks through the State Emergency Fund. Some essential medicines have been delivered to the aimags by helicopter.

Other Agency Relief Efforts

The UN through OCHA has recently pledged a total of $ 88,250 of aid to the affected areas.

Outstanding needs

Food and boots remain the main need for disaster affected communities. Funds are urgently required to purchase these items within the country.

External relations - Government/UN/NGOs/Media

The Delegation in Beijing is in contact with the UN Disaster Management team (UNDMT) in Ulaan baatar. It has given a number of interviews to the international media (as has the Federation Secretariat in Geneva) and has assisted an AP-TV film team travelling to Mongolia to obtain coverage of the devastated areas. Further trips from the international media based in Beijing are expected next week.

Contributions

No contributions have been received so far.
For further information, please contact Marcel Fortier, Desk Officer, on +41 22 730 4268 (e:mail: fortier@ifrc.org).

Hiroshi Higashiura
Director
Asia & Pacific Department

Peter Rees-Gildea
Director
Operations Funding & Reporting Department