Mongolia: UN Rapid Assessment Mission: Impact of Dzud Situation (1-6 February 2016)



Mongolia suffered from extreme drought in 2015, and the forecast of harsh winter conditions raised the alarm for the government of Mongolia and the international community of an impending recurrence of the 2010 dzud disaster. The official definition of Dzud was introduced by the Government of Mongolia in July 2015 resolution #286 as follows “A dzud condition is characterised by deterioration of the weather conditions in winter and spring leading to shortage of pasture and water for livestock suffering massive die-off. By its intensity, dzud is categorised as a dzud situation and near-dzud situation”.

Given the severe drought and the following strong signals of worsening weather situations during 2015/2016 winter, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) carried out a Drought and Winter Preparedness Fact Finding Mission in October 2015. The mission identified key areas of concern that require the government, at all levels, and herders’ immediate attention to step up preparedness efforts in order to mitigate or minimise the potential impact on Livestock and consequently herders’ livelihoods. Ground observations and remote sensing data were used to produce a risk map on the areas likely to suffer the impact of dzud conditions.

In December 2015, Asian Development Bank (ADB) conducted a fact-finding mission for the proposed emergency assistance in response to the expected dzud disaster from 1 to 7 December.

In the same month the Mongolian State Emergency Commission (SEC) deployed a team to assess the situation in 91 soums of 21 aimags. The mission concluded that 50 soums of 16 aimags are in snowy dzud conditions and 120 soums of 20 aimags are in near-dzud conditions, as of the 28th of December of 2015.

Due to the slow onset nature of the Dzud, several organisations deployed assessment teams to capture the evolving situation on the ground and to monitor the impact on livestock and people. To reduce the traffic of assessment missions to local authorities (aimag, soum and bag level) and to avoid assessment-fatigue caused by multiple visits to affected population, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in Mongolia proposed the use of harmonised assessment forms to capture multi-sectoral information at administrative unit or household level (Annex III, and VII). The use of standard assessment forms will allow capturing of up to date situational information through the field presence of HCT members and field missions.

With this background the UN assessment mission was commissioned by HCT advisory group to conduct a rapid assessment of the dzud impact in the eastern aimags of Sukhbaatar, Dorno-Gobi, and DundGobi to complement government and other assessment and most importantly to pilot the newly introduced assessment form. To avoid multiple visits, the UN mission joined an INGO People-in-Need mission planned to Sukhbaatar and Dornod aimags.

The aimags to be visited have been identified based on the following criterion:

  • Steppe fires in summer and loss of winter shelters for livestock,
  • Reported increase in livestock death over the last 10 days of Jan. in Sukhbaatar Aimag,
  • A number of international organization and/or members of the broader HCT including the aforementioned FAO, and ADB have conducted winter preparedness assessment missions to the western and central regions of Mongolia late last year.