Rapid Needs Assessment Report Mongolian Dzud, 2015-2016 (January 25th – February 2nd, 2016)

Originally published


1. Executive Summary

The high temperatures and drought conditions experienced in the summer of 2015 followed by the current extreme winter of 2015-2016, have led to the occurrence of a dzud across Mongolia. This phenomenon has the potential to be particularly damaging for the country’s 149,700 herder households – many of whom who face severe vulnerabilities to livestock losses.

Save the Children Mongolia assessments have found that herder households face significant financial barriers to purchasing the necessary supplies to protect their remaining livestock or meet many of the most basic needs for their children. The loss of livelihoods will have significant knock-on effects for child protection and education outcomes, both now and in the future. The education and protection of the children of dzud affected herder households therefore, are at risk as the dzud conditions continue – especially for the most vulnerable households.

In response to this situation, Save the Children proposes a multi-sector approach which aims to protect livelihoods whilst simultaneously ensuring the protection of children’s basic wellbeing and ensuring appropriate educational environments.

2. Background

In 2011, Mongolia was one of the fastest growing economies in the world with 17.5% growth - due largely the expansion of the mining sector. However, its growth has since decelerated considerably due to a sharp downturn in international mineral markets. Economic growth is projected to bottom out at 2.3% for 2015 by the World Bank. The poverty rate remains high in rural and peri-urban areas, and income inequality within and between regions is widening. One in five people (21.6%) lives below the national poverty line and in some rural regions one in every three people (31.4%) lives in poverty.

Herder households periodically suffer from what is locally known as a dzud - a cyclical, slow-onset disaster unique to Mongolia. It consists of a summer drought followed by heavy winter snow (10 to 350 cm) and extreme cold (down to -40°C) which results in insufficient hay stockpiles and access to pasture in the winter months. This creates significant challenges for many basic services - such as transportation, health and education – and in the long run may lead to the collapse of livelihoods in vulnerable herder communities. In the 2010 dzud, 217,000 households, or 769,000 individuals (28% of population) were affected. Of those affected, 43,555 households lost their entire herd with an additional 163,780 households losing at least half.

Due to clear warning signs of another impending crisis in 2016, on the 4th of January the government issued a nationwide decree for aimag (provincial) and soum (district) level governments to distribute any necessary assets, including their stockpile reserves of hay and fodder to affected areas. As of the 20th of January, the government has declared 97 soums across 18 aimags as being in dzud conditions and an additional 111 soums across 20 aimags as being in near dzud conditions.

In response Save the Children Mongolia also organised a rapid needs assessment from January 25th through February 2nd 2016.