Mongolia - Snowstorms
OCHA Situation Report No. 3
17 February 2000
The Government of Mongolia requests International
Herders beset by devastating Snowstorms
1. Winter struck Mongolia early last year with a series of unusually heavy blizzards occurring from September onwards. Spring will not arrive until late May or early June. This exceptionally harsh winter in the southern and western aimags (provinces) of Mongolia, particularly in Bayanhongor, Dundgovi, Zavhan, Uvurhangai and parts of Bulgan aimags, is killing vital livestock and has wiped out herds upon which nomads totally depend for their livelihood. In addition to the unusual snow, herders are also suffering from the effects of a summer drought which ruined the hay crop. The combination of last summer's drought, depleted pastureland capacity and harsh winter conditions has created an insupportable environment for the animals.
2. Mongolia is a landlocked country slightly smaller than Alaska, stretching across 1.566 sq. km yet with as few as 2.7 million inhabitants. Although the Government of Mongolia has made substantial efforts to introduce modern industry and economic practices over the past years, Mongolia's economy is still essentially based on agriculture and the breeding of livestock. The severe climate, scattered population, and wide expanses of unproductive land have placed a constraint upon economic development.
Situation and Damage
3. According to data made available by the Mongolian Government today, 680,000 heads of cattle, sheep, goats, horses and camels were killed by the snowstorms. Many herders have lost 60 to 70 per cent of their livestock. In some provinces, a number of herders lost 98 per cent of their cattle.
4. The situation is expected to deteriorate further in many areas, and the disastrous conditions may well continue to prevail throughout the second quarter of the year. Although only a few people have died so far, it is expected that the full impact of the tragedy on human beings will only become apparent in the Spring when the loss of domestic animals will have taken its full toll.
5. The Government has undertaken relief measures. The State Standing Emergency Commission (SSEC) is coordinating overall relief efforts and under its aegis, an implementation plan has been drawn up and is currently being implemented at national and local levels. Special central and local commissions have been set up to distribute aid. Cash and in-kind contributions (clothes, medicines, food) have been made to the SSEC. Meanwhile, the State Property Committee is receiving donations from state-owned companies and the Mongolian Red Cross Society is collecting NGO contributions. A number of search groups headed by provincial governors are operating in Dundgovi and Omnogovi provinces.
6. The Government of Mongolia has appealed for international assistance to help the people living in disaster-stricken areas. They have stated that the most pressing need during this immediate relief phase is for cash to finance the transportation of food, clothes and medicines to herders scattered widely in remote areas and to transport hay or other fodder for the livestock. In addition, the Government expressed the need for winterized tents, warm boots and clothes, blankets, portable generators and motorized sledges. Most of these items can be purchased locally, so cash donations would also be highly welcome in this respect.
7. The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mongolia plans to send a UN inter-agency team comprising members of UNDP, WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA to two of the affected provinces (Dundgovi and Uvurhangai) for 4 to 5 days. The mission will assess the humanitarian, economic and environmental impact of the disaster, and make recommendations for appropriate relief measures for the affected population. The team will also articulate lessons learned and recommend measures to be taken during the rehabilitation and medium-term development phases.
8. OCHA has made available an emergency cash grant of USD 30,000. OCHA has also decided to allocate grants of USD 30,000 each from contributions for relief assistance held in reserve by OCHA from the governments of Norway and the United Kingdom.
9. OCHA is prepared to serve as channel for cash contributions to be used for immediate relief assistance, in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations in the United Nations system. Funds should be transferred to OCHA account No. CO-590.160.0, Swift code: UBSWCHZ12A at the UBS AG, P.O. Box 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, with reference: OCHA - Mongolia - Snowstorms. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.
10. 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.
11. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int
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In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10
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