Extreme winter weather, termed ‘dzud’, has hit Mongolian herders once again. The phenomenon which appears approximately once in decade has unusually appeared for the second consecutive winter in a row. Seventeen out of twenty-one provinceshave officially declared being affected with dzud. The most vulnerable people are now the herders who did not have enough time to recover from the damages from last year. Around 157,000 herders are at risk of losing livestock and their livelihoods, with the lean season expected to last until May. People in Need (PIN) prepares emergency response to those affected in the Dornod, Sukhbaatar and Khentii provinces of East Mongolia. The most vulnerable herders will receive feed for their animals and financial support to cover basic family needs.
“My 20 cows have already died. I am doing everything I can to save the rest of my livestock, but animals are still getting weaker and my feed reserve will run out in a few weeks. I don’t know what I will do after that,” describes the critical situation 43-year-old Urjinsuren Mijiddorj, showing his cows that recently died from weakness and froze in his backyard in Kherlen soum. “_I hope the snow will melt soon,” _he adds. This year’s dzud caught even the usually prepared herders by surprise. An absence of cash and exhaustion of all reserves has forced the herders to look for a short-term solution. They are borrowing food and essential goods from shops, getting a bank loan if possible, or selling the animals for very low prices, consequently losing possible income from the cashmere, dairy, and meat. When a herder loses his livelihood, his whole family is threatened because they depend on him. This results in impoverishment of the rural population and undermines their resilience for the upcoming winter. People are not able to cope without help.
Feed packages for animals and cash support
Steppe fires and dry summer followed by heavy rains in September and early snow in October has put the rural population in an extremely vulnerable position. By February 2017, 77.8% of the country was covered in snow. Thick layers of snow and ice in the mountainous regions, as thick as 50 cm, cover most of the pastures and causing animals’ injuries and starvation. These harsh weather conditions and breakouts of deadly infectious diseases have already killed more than 45,000 heads of cattle, leaving more than 8,000 households in need of emergency assistance. _“Mongolia did not get over the last dzud yet. Local herders are used to rough winters and always try to carefully prepare themselves and have enough fodder reserves for their herds. But no one expected these bad conditions this year,”_says Jaroslav Petřík, the PIN coordinator for Mongolia.
People in Need, together with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic, currently prepares support for more than 550 of the most vulnerable herder families in eleven dzud-affected soums of Dornod province. “People here will receive feed kits for animals and unconditional cash grants to cover basic household needs. Our team in Mongolia is ready to provide assistance for 5,000 more people,” adds Jaroslav Petřík.
Family of the herder Tserevjav Chuluunbaatar seems luckier as they have not lost any animals so far. But despite the fact that their livestock of 32 heads is still alive, it is far from enough for him and his family of five to survive on. That is why Mr. Chuluunbaatar at the age of sixty-one is not only taking care of his own animals, but is also working as an assistant to another herder. “My fodder reserves are running out and we do not have any money to buy more. Your help will be just in time and we are very grateful”, says Mr. Chuluunbaatar while showing his newborn sheep.
People in Need in Mongolia
PIN has already helped those affected by dzud in Mongolia in 2010 and 2016. In cooperation withCaritas Czech republic herdsmen families were provided with financial and food assistance, allowing them to resume their agricultural trade and prepare for the next hard winter. Apart from the immediate humanitarian aid, PIN helps herders and local authorities identify long-term measures to better prepare for more frequent dzuds and minimize their consequences. Since 2011, PIN has a permanent country program in Mongolia (read more).
PIN provides current aid to dzud-affected Mongolian with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic, and the support of the Czech public who contributed through Club of Friends of People in Need. People in Need would like to thank all donors for their support.
For more information please contact:
Quentin Moreau, PIN Country Director for Mongolia, M: +97 695 260 firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaroslav Petrik, PIN Coordinator for Mongolia, M: +420 778 485 029 email@example.com