OCHA Situation Report No. 5
Mongolia - Snowstorms
2 March 2000
The Government of Mongolia requests International Assistance for Herders overwhelmed by devastating Snowstorms
1. A swathe of land stretching across a northwest to southeasterly strip of land in the heart of Mongolia, was severely affected by drought in the Summer of 1999. It led to poor grass conditions, thus depriving herds of the necessary body energy with which to face the winter. Pastures normally used for winter grazing and forage were decimated. Then in mid-September the provinces, or aimags, along the western ridge of the Hangai mountain range were surprised by early snowstorms, bringing as much as a metre of snow to parts of the aimag of Bayanhongor. Twenty four heavy snowstorms have led the Government to designate 141 soums (counties) in 13 aimags as emergency sites. Since Mongolia's economy is essentially based on agriculture and the breeding of livestock, the present dying-off of whole herds in vast stretches of Mongolia is a disaster for domestic production and for the country's export economy.
Situation and Damage
2. On 1 March the Disaster Relief Division of the Mongolian State Civil Defence Board (SCDB) reported that 1,304,300 livestock in the affected areas had already perished. Dundgobi, Ovorkhangai, Uvs, Zavkhanto, and Bayankhongor are the five worst affected aimags, in descending order. The seriousness of the disaster shows no signs of abating, as pregnant animals frequently miscarry in such harsh conditions and the prospect of newborn animals surviving is very limited.
3. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) reports that nearly 300,000 people in 12 aimags are affected by the food shortages in the immediate term, and by the loss of their livelihood in the longer term. Many herders have already lost 60 to 70 per cent of their livestock, and in some provinces herders lost up to 98 per cent of their cattle.
4. From 24 to 27 February, a UN disaster fact-finding mission led by UNICEF Mongolia visited Dundgobi province. Their report, issued on 28 February, estimated that the aimag lost about 25% of its livestock in January and that this figure was likely to almost one million by June. It holds that women and children will suffer in the coming months from
- the exhaustion of winter food reserves of dried meat,
- the non-availability of milk and other dairy products,
- the difficult access to basic medical assistance as travel by horse is precluded, since horses too have succumbed to the disastrous conditions.
5. The SCDB is working in close cooperation with the aimag Emergency Commissions, by collecting information from aimags, and monitoring contributions and the distribution of aid on a daily basis. The information gathered is regularly passed on to Government authorities and international organizations, as well as to the State Emergency Commission (SEC).
6. By 29 February the State Property Committee had registered cash contributions of Togrog 360 million (USD 330,000), and the SEC had commenced distribution of food and consumer goods to the amount of Togrog 150 million (USD 140,000), and of 136 tonnes of hay and 79 tonnes of animal fodder donated by private, national and international entities.
7. 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 food stuffs, clothes, medicines, commodity goods, hay and fodder for the livestock, and communication sets for relief teams. Most of these items can be purchased locally, so cash donations would also be highly welcome in this respect. However, a clear estimate of actual needs has not yet been drawn up. It is expected that quantification will begin in March.
8. The SCDB have drawn attention to the lack of financial resources to cover costs incurred by transportation of relief items.
9. The IFRC launched an International Appeal for CHF 815,200 (USD 497,073) on 22 February. The Appeal envisages the provision of three months-worth of food supplies and winter boots for 30,000 beneficiaries in 22 soums in the worst affected aimags.
10. From 24 to 27 February, a UN disaster fact-finding mission led by UNICEF Mongolia visited Dundgobi aimag, as mentioned above.
11. The UN Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) has fielded an inter-agency assessment mission to the most severely affected areas from 1 to 4 March accompanied by OCHA Regional Disaster Response Advisor for Asia. The advisor was dispatched to Mongolia on 27 February to assist the UNDMT in Ulaanbaatar in coordinationg the UN response in support of the affected population.
12. OCHA is prepared to serve as a 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.
13. 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.
14. 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 (http://www.reliefweb.int). 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.
15. 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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