United Nations Inter-agency Appeal for Mongolia "DZUD 2000" - An Evolving Disaster

In response to the request from the Government of Mongolia, the United Nations team is launching an appeal to the international community for urgent support to the response on the winter emergency in Mongolia. This is a consolidated appeal from the United Nations system that is working in Mongolia. The crisis is in an acute stage and immediate relief assistance is needed in April/May as well as rehabilitation support in the following months.

Mongolian herders are experiencing the worst winter in the last 30 years. In Mongolian language the term dzud describes a natural disaster that occurs in the cold season (i.e. winter and spring) and represents a threat to human and livestock populations. Dzud is a rather complex phenomena that is mainly caused by natural elements that reduce access to grazing, thus negatively impacting the food security of livestock and human populations. In other words, the term dzud can be described as "livestock famine", which also represents a high risk of famine for humans in the affected areas.

During the winter of 1999/2000, snowfalls began earlier than usual, were very heavy and repeated, and the temperatures dropped to abnormally low levels (minus 46 degrees centigrade in some areas). Other factors which contributed to the scale and severity of the present disaster were intense drought in 1999, overstocking and overgrazing leading to environmental degradation, disappearance of previously abundant grasses, reduced animal fat reserves, inadequate hay preparation possibilities during Autumn, and virtually non-existent veterinary services leading to declining herd health conditions. There were more animal movement during this winter than normal, of longer distances on average to pastures outside normal winter grazing areas, which further the weakened animals and created pressure around existing water resources.

According to the State Emergency Commission as of the 25 March 2000, the number of dead animals in the 13 affected aimags (provinces) reached almost 1.8 million, although deaths are mainly concentrated in six severely affected aimags. This number is expected to increase during the Spring birthing months (March-May), which are generally considered the most difficult months for the livestock due to erratic snowfalls, cold temperatures, heavy winds and frequent dust-storms. It has been forecast that as many as 5 million livestock could be lost before the growing season begins in June.

The total population of those 13 affected aimags is 1,1 million people, that is 45% of the population of Mongolia. Of these populations, about half a million are directly or indirectly affected by the dzud.

Livestock is essential to every part of herder’s daily life. Their animals are the only source of food, transport, heating materials, and purchasing power (cash/barter), as well as the main means of access to medical services and education for children. Herders with less than 100 animals are most vulnerable to further loss of animals, while herders with less than 200 animals may drop below the subsistence threshold. There are very limited agricultural activities in most of the affected areas, and the growing season is short.

The Mongolian Government response to the disaster is coordinated by the State Emergency Commission (SEC), which works with central and local emergency commissions at the local level At the aimag (province), soum (district) and bag (village) levels to distribute relief aid. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry have also established working groups to manage and coordinate the disaster response. Concrete measures have been taken to ensure the immediate delivery of essential food and hay, delivery of relief goods, and to promote rehabilitation activities. However government funding for a disaster of this magnitude is inadequate to meet the current urgent demands of the affected population. In recognition of this, the government requested international relief assistance in February 2000.

The United Nations response includes fielding of damage and needs assessment missions to the two most affected aimags, with the participation of government, UN OCHA, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO and NGOs. A consolidated Needs Assessment Mission Report based on the mission findings was published in March and placed on the UN-Mongolia disaster website ( It is an important basis for this appeal and an important background document.

Both FAO and WFP have fielded assessment missions to Mongolia, and their detailed project profiles, once finalised, will be sent to the donors as an addendum to this appeal. Support experts are being recruited by the UNDMT to assist in the coordination of the relief response, to assist the Government, and to collect and publish information on the disaster. UNVs will be mobilised in the field to monitor and report on the implementation of UN relief operations.

Donations for the relief effort have already been made by WHO, UNDP and UN OCHA (in cooperation with the Governments of Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom). UNFPA, UNICEF and UNDP are re-programming some of their funds to assist the affected areas.

International relief response also includes assistance from the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), the Mongolian Red Cross, Governments of the United States Government, Japan, Canada, Israel, and international NGOs. The World Bank recently advised that it will reallocate US$ 1,33 million from an existing poverty alleviation project to finance restocking of herds commencing in April.

The massive mortality of livestock experienced this year will cause severe socio-economic damage to the whole country. It is an evolving human drama. The existing social welfare system cannot deal with the sudden increase in disaster requirements. Immediate assistance, medium- and long-term rehabilitation programmes are required to help the most affected population to reduce further herd depletion, create alternative livelihoods, improve water supply, secure food security and nutrition, assure basic health and educational services, adjust long-term environmental strategies, and improve emergency information management.

This appeal covers relief and rehabilitation programmes in livestock, food security through agriculture, water supply and pastureland, food security through nutrition, health, education, and coordination and monitoring. It is based on information to date (3 April) and will be suported by additional date assessments over the coming weeks.

1. Background to the appeal

1.1 Disaster Situation - An Evolving Crisis

Mongolian herders experienced the worst winter in the last 30 years. In Mongolian language the term dzud describes a natural disaster that occurs in the cold season (i.e. winter and spring) and represents a threat to human and livestock populations The Mongolian vocabulary distinguishes between several forms of dzud, depending on the causes, contributing factors and characteristics. For example, "tsagaan (white) dzud" describes the phenomenon when the snowfall is too deep for livestock to reach the grass covered by it; "tumur (iron) dzud" happens when an impenetrable ice-cover forms on the surface of precipitation, also preventing livestock from grazing; "khar (black) dzud" occurs when lack of precipitation in grazing areas leaves livestock without any frozen water supplies, or wells are inaccessible; "tuuvarin or tuurain dzud" describes the phenomenon when crowding and/or migrating of livestock causes overgrazing/rapid depletion of pastureland resources in the affected territory. The term "khavsarsan (combined) dzud" is used when at least two of the above phenomena occur at the same time. Recently a new term has been coined - "davkhar (multiple) dzud", which refers to any of the above dzud variations in combination with a drought ("gan") during the preceding season.

Dzud is a rather complex phenomena that is mainly caused by natural elements that reduce access to grazing, thus negatively impacting the food security of livestock and human populations. In other words, the term dzud can be described as "livestock famine", which also represents a high risk of famine for humans in the affected areas However, dzud is also linked with the complex issues of good governance and natural resource management, thus, it is not only a natural phenomenon. Therefore, formulating appropriate policies and strategy in response to the present situation that will enhance rehabilitation and future disaster preparedness efforts should be given high priority and support.

A major contributing factor to the scale and severity of the present disaster was the intense drought (gan) which preceded the 1999/2000 dzud. However, studies suggest that overgrazing and environmental degradation also contributed to the disaster. Both changed the distribution of native grasses over wide regions. There were drastic reductions or disappearance of the types of grasses which were previously abundant. As a result, only the less palatable grasses remained and increased.

Because of last year’s drought, livestock were unable to build up the necessary strength (i.e. calories/fat) to enable them to cope with the harsh winter and spring. In addition, herders were unable to prepare the hay and other types of animal feed that would have helped to mitigate against the consequences of the dzud.

The drought affected entire soums (districts), so that all pasture reserves were intensively grazed. Increased migration to less affected areas and increased numbers of livestock and herding households also resulted in congestion on seasonal pastures (e.g. grazing areas that are normally preserved for winter/spring were used during the fall). Increased movements of people and livestock outside their traditional grazing areas also created high grazing pressure around existing water resources, especially near the mechanical wells which are still operational. Access to grazing has become a serious constraint for many herding households - in both the dzud affected and the receiving areas.

Overstocking in some areas, which led to environmental degradation, contributed to the disaster. Weak (or virtually non-existant) veterinary services also resulted in declining herd health conditions. Herders from affected areas moved their herds to neighboring non-affected areas causing in congestion on seasonal pastures out of season. There were more animal movement during this winter than normal, of longer distance on average, which further the weakened animals. These increased movements of people and livestock outside their traditional grazing areas created high grazing pressure around existing water resources. In general, access to grazing pastures has become a serious constraint for many herding households - in both the dzud affected and the receiving areas.

According to the State Emergency Commission as of the 25 March 2000, the number of dead animals has now almost reached 1.8 million head, excluding losses of newborn animals. 80% of the livestock deaths are concentrated in six severely affected aimags. The extent of the problem varies from soum to soum within those aimags - in some areas, more than 30% of the livestock registered in December 1999 were recorded as death by mid-March. This number is expected to increase during the Spring season (March-May), which are generally considered the most difficult months for the livestock. Snow and cold temperature exacerbated by heavy winds continue to strike some areas, and dust-storms occur frequently. No new grass has commenced to grow yet. The Spring months are also the time when sheep and goats bear young. In their ill-fed condition, many females animals and their young are expected to perish.

The last severe dzud, in 1967/8, caused the death of 12% of the livestock. It has been forecast that the 1999/2000 dzud will be more severe, and it is estimated that as many as 5 million livestock could be lost before the growing season begins (i.e. June).

Thirteen aimags are now recorded as affected by the dzud. The total population of those 13 affected aimags is 1,1 million people, that is 45% of the population of Mongolia. Of these populations, about half a million are directly or indirectly affected by the dzud.

Livestock is essential to every part of herder’s daily life. For most people in the affected areas, their animals are the only source of food, transport, heating materials, and purchasing power (cash/barter), as well as the main means of access to medical services and education for children. Without animals, no dung is available for heating or cooking, and no alternatives such as wood and coal are available in the Gobi and arid steppe areas most affected by the dzud. Herders with less than 100 animals are most vulnerable to further loss of animals, while herders with less than 200 animals may easily drop below the subsistence threshold. There are only very limited agricultural activities (e.g. cropping and vegetable gardening) in most of the affected areas presently, and due to Mongolia’s climate, can only be conducted during a short growing season.

Although no good statistics are currently available it is estimated that a significant health and nutrition crisis looms ahead. Families have exhausted food and cash and have no more assets with the death of livestock to meet their basic needs. It is expected that current levels of malnutrition will be exacerbated very rapidly and that rates of morbidity and mortality among vulnerable groups, including children, women, and the elderly will begin to increase. Already some affected areas are reporting increased maternal and infant mortality figures as households are unable to access services or essential medical resources in time. The health system itself is experiencing greater than usual shortfalls in resources and cannot adequately reach many displaced households. Similarly the education system has come under strain with the numbers of dropouts increasing in some areas and in other areas dilapidated facilities being overwhelmed with boarders.

The massive mortality of livestock experienced this year will not only cause severe financial damage to herders, but also to entire provinces and the country as a whole. The existing social welfare system will not be able to deal with the sudden increase in income assistance and food aid requirements, nor the enormous losses in economic productivity. Therefore, immediate/short term assistance needs to be provided to the most affected herders to secure household food security through alternative livelihoods (e.g. like vegetable gardening and animal feed production). In this way, the need for supplementary feeding/food aid requirements and direct financial/income assistance for the human population can be reduced in the mid- to long-term.

1.2. Government Response to the Disaster

The State Emergency Commission (SEC) is coordinating the overall emergency response efforts in the country. It has taken concrete measures to ensure the immediate delivery of essential food and hay, to oversee delivery of relief goods, and to promote rehabilitation activities. Central and local emergency commissions have been set up to distribute relief aid.

The Government has instructed all soums currently housing internally displaced herders to provide them with free health care. In addition, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry have established working groups to manage and coordinate the response to the disaster. By late March, basic emergency supplies (flour, rice, millet, milk powder, tea, candles, matches, felt shoes, gloves and felt) in the value of over US$ 36,000 had been distributed to disaster affected families in the 6 most affected aimags. Over 2,800 tonnes of hay, 1,000 tonnes of fodder and some medical supplies had also been delivered to affected areas from the government reserves, on the condition that it be "repaid" in July 2000. However government funding for a disaster of this magnitude is inadequate to meet the current urgent demands of the affected population.

1.3 The United Nations Response to the Disaster

In response to the Government's request for international relief assistance, the United Nations Disaster Management Team (UNDMT) fielded two damage and needs assessment missions to the two most affected aimags, with the assistance of the OCHA Regional Disaster Response Adviser for Asia, and representatives from UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF and WHO.The consolidated Needs Assessment Mission Report was presented to the international community in Ulaanbaatar and to the Prime Minister, and was made available on the UN-Mongolia website ( The Report constitutes an important basis for this appeal.

Both FAO and WFP are fielding at the time of this report damage and needs assessment missions to Mongolia, to provide additional inputs to the planning and the implementation of the relief and rehabilitation operations. Their input will subsequently become a further part of this appeal.

An international and a local expert were recruited by the UNDMT to assist in the coordination of the relief response and to assist the Government. More support will be added to handle the expected international response. The UN disaster website was also established to provide information collected by the UNDMT on disaster developments, donations and responses. In late March, UNVs will be mobilised in the field to assist in the monitoring and reporting on the implementation of UN relief operations.

WHO (US$5,000) and UNDP (US$30,000) contributed immediate some assistance in response to the Government’s appeal. UNFPA, UNICEF ($50,00) and UNDP are re-programming some of their funds in the near- term to assist the affected areas. UNICEF is requesting emergency loan assistance from its headquarters to meet immediate relief needs. These are to be replenished in the context of this appeal.

OCHA has made available an emergency cash grant of US$ 90,000 which includes contributions of US$ 30,000 each from the Government of the United Kingdom and Norway. The UNDMT is implementing the activities related to this support. It is also formulating an action plan for the use of a contribution made by the Danish Government (US$ 30,000).

1.4. The International Response

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) launched an international appeal for US$ 497,073 to assist 30,000 beneficiaries in the worst affected aimags with food supplies and winter boots for three months. The Federation also released US$ 60,976 from its Disaster Relief Emergency Fund for the Procurement of relief supplies. The IFRC has engaged a logistic expert to come to Mongolia for 3 months during their relief operations.

The United States Government provided over Tugrik 136 million (approximately US$ 136,000) for wheat and US$ 25,000 to the Mongolian Red Cross Society in March. The British and Norwegian Governments further provided the International Federation of Red Cross with US$ 50,000 and US$ 55,000 respectively. The Japanese Embassy allocated over US$ 91,000, the Israeli Embassy gave US$ 5,000 and the South Korean Government donated US$ 20,000.

Other important donations include: Canada Fund - US$ 10,000; Mercy Corps International & Nike - US$ 10,000 of Nike clothing; World Vision Mongolia - US$ 40,000; Adventist Development Relief Agency in Mongolia (ADRA) - US$ 90,000; Harrods Group (UK) - US$ 15,000; Save The Children’s Fund (UK) - US$ 40,000. More details on donations can be found on the UN-Mongolia website.

The World Bank recently advised that it will reallocate US$ 1,33 million from an existing poverty alleviation project to finance restocking of herds commencing in April.


The Inter-Agency Appeal was prepared under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator’s office. This appeal is based on the two assessment missions undertaken by UNDMT members with the participation of representatives of Mongolian national authorities, donor community and NGOs.

This appeal is designed to provide disaster-affected areas with emergency relief that they will urgently need from April onwards. Further, the Appeal is designed to mitigate further mass losses of livestock and to prevent large numbers of households from depending completely on relief assistance for long periods, since livestock is the sole source of herders' income, food, transportation and nutrition.

The focus of the Appeal is on emergency relief for the affected areas where large numbers of livestock have died of starvation in cold weather. But in order to reduce the need for relief assistance, the Appeal also includes short term and medium term rehabilitation needs.

Summary of Relief Sectors to be assisted by UN Agencies through the Appeal

Relief Sector
UN Agency
Total Cost US$
Livestock UNDP, FAO
Food Security through agriculture UNDP, FAO
Water Supply and Pastureland Irrigation UNDP, FAO,Wash-21 Project
Nutrition UNICEF,WHO
Education UNICEF
Coordination and Monitoring UNDMT

2.1 Time Frame for Assistance

The period envisaged for the full implementation of the Inter-Agency relief assistance is one year. The rehabilitation work will run concurrently to the relief work and extend into a second year.

2.2 Implementation Arrangements

For the relief appeal, donors can make their contributions to the Mongolian Government State Standing Emergency Commission of Mongolia (State Board for Civil Defence), Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia, Foreign Currency Account No. 21350135: Savings Bank, National Currency Account No. 2145013 directly, or through the coordinating United Nations Agencies. Such support to UN agencies can be channeled through UN OCHA or directly to the concerned UN agency (ies), For relief funds channeled through the United Nations system, appropriate UN Agencies will be responsible for monitoring, coordinating and reporting on the progress and impact of relief efforts to the donors. The UNDMT in country will serve as the coordinating body for the logistic linking of emergency input channeled through the UN system.

The impact of this appeal will be closely monitored and regularly reported on to the respective donors by the UNDMT that is responsible for coordination of the UN relief assistance. The entire relief effort will be formally reviewed with the participation of donor representatives at the end of 3 to 4 month periods during the one year of implementation of relief activities. The budget for each sector includes some minimal operational support costs, including transportation. The requested support for coordination and monitoring for the UNDMT will be an essential ingredient for the integrated implementation of the different components.


3.1. Introduction

This appeal is based on two UNDMT damage and needs assessment missions and on extensive consultation with government officials, international NGOs, and experts in different fields. It takes into consideration the contributions already pledged to the relief operations. This collaborative effort is trying to address the immediate relief and short to medium term rehabilitation needs through specific sectoral interventions, while keeping in mind the long term rehabilitation and development priorities and opportunities. The proposed sectoral interventions have different target groups and different durations, depending on the needs. The ongoing FAO and WFP missions will provide further information and analysis of the food and food production needs for the affected population.

3.2. Objective

To assist the Government and the people of Mongolia to provide a timely and effective relief response to the dzud-affected areas. This will involve a focus on both livestock and the basic needs of the concerned population.

A. Livestock: the Main Livelihood

Coordinating Agencies: UNDP, FAO
Government Counterpart: Ministry of Agriculture & Industry
Implementing Partners: UNDMT, FAO, INGOs
Location of Initiative: Dundgobi, Uvurkhangai, Zavkhan, Tuv.

A.1: Background and Context

Severe depletion of herds has already occurred in four aimags and is growing in others. Further losses will be incurred if adverse weather conditions are encountered before the commencement of Spring growth in late May/early June. These losses could be partially offset through the mobilization of immediate feed supplements already within the country. The recovery rate will be determined by the surviving animals’ ability to efficiently utilize the biomass provided. The national rehabilitation policy is to emphasize restocking measures for households severely affected by adverse weather conditions. Furthermore, increased efficiency will be achieved if both internal and external parasites are controlled through the provision of appropriate animal health inputs

A.2: Objective

The immediate and most critical goal is to secure the survival of the remaining livestock and, in so doing, to reduce the number of herders from dropping below the subsistence level. This will be complimented by the rehabilitation efforts of supporting restocking, veterinarian services and feed production activities.

(a) Relief objective:

In the months of April, May and June when the highest animal death rate is projected, get food stuffs to the livestock to save the largest number of animals possible. These animals are the herders most preciuos asset and the best support for the survival of the herders. Saving an animal at risk is far more economical than entering a restocking process.

(b) Rehabilitation Objective

Improved plans for feed resource management must be developed, adapted and validated with close herder participation. This will involve not only better fodder production, but also better use of agro-industrial by-products and maintenance of good stocks of hay and crop residues.

Identify strategically favorable places where re-stocking breeding stock should be kept and from where breeding stock could be supplied to areas hit by disasters once the present emergency is under control. Training on livestock production, processing, health, and marketing, as well as on better management of individual herds/flocks and of herder- organized groups should be essential rehabilitation objectives.

A.3: Strategy for Implementation

The strategy of this relief/rehabilitation program is to support the national efforts to secure the survival of the remaining adult animals and their offspring - the sole source of herders’ income, food, transportation, and access to medical services. The relief program will reduce the number of herders that may drop below the poverty line (approximately US$ 14 per person per month). The rehabilitation program will be based on Mongolia’s earlier restocking efforts and veterinary service. The latter is in need of private practice management training and assistance to establish relationships of trust with local herders.

The target population will be herders in dzud-affected soums. They will directly benefit from re-established and improved veterinary services under free-market conditions, and will learn to collaborate on a mutual trust basis as partners with the veterinarians to attain and maintain healthy Mongolian livestock. To successfully improve the herders life through veterinary service and quality animal husbandry, advisory veterinarians will be identified in the targeted soums to work with the herder communities and implementing partner agency.

FAO is preparing detailed project profiles addressing the above-mentioned needs. The project profiles will be forwarded to the donor community for appraisal in the coming weeks. FAO will implement the activities in partnership with experienced national and international NGOs, and in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Emergency Committee and local authorities. All efforts in this domain will be linked wherever possible with the on-going livestock work of IFAD, USAID and the World Bank.

A.4: Budget for Implementation

Total cost US$
Purchase and transport of animal feed (hay, husks, veterinary medicine, etc.)
Distribution, monitoring


The budget and timeframe for implementation of the rehabilitation component will be submitted later based on the analysis and project profiles to be done by FAO.

B. Food Security Through Agriculture: Creating Alternative Livelihoods

Coordinating Agencies: UNDP, FAO
Government Counterpart: Ministry of Agriculture & Industry
Implementing Partners: Experienced NGOs and NPAP
Location of Initiative: Dundgobi, Uvurkhangai, Tuv

B.1: Background and Context

Despite the many challenges to food production in Mongolia, significant potential exists and remains untapped. Vegetable production was not a major priority during the large-scale, mechanised farming era in Mongolia. The production and consumption of vegetables, therefore, has been relatively unfamiliar to most. However, in the past two years, especially as a result of the Green Revolution programme, there has been a surge of interest from rural and urban inhabitants alike, who see vegetable production as a means of improving their food availability, nutrition, and income. To promote vegetable production in a sustainable manner, the programme will use local varieties of nutritionally valuable vegetables suited for the Mongolian climate and market. The following vegetables have been prioritised - potato, onion, cabbage, carrot, turnip and cucumber.

The UN system in collaboration with the Government, the NPAP and NGOs is planning to implement food security activities to soften the impact of the natural disaster on the most vulnerable households in affected areas - particularly in Uvurkhangai, Dundgobi and Tuv aimags - to diversify food production systems.

B.2: Objective

The immediate relief objective is to provide the most vulnerable households in the dzud-affected areas with assistance to improve their food security and nutrition status. The aim is to initiate and support household and community gardening activities in the spring of 2000 through the provision of basic agricultural infrastructure (i.e. seeds and tools during the immediate relief phase May/June 2000 and potentially more intense farm land development in the rehabilitation stage). This will help generate food supplies and agricultural skills for families who otherwise would have very little resources as a result of losing livestock during the 1999/2000 dzud. The quick response effort during the spring of 2000 in household/community vegetable gardening will provide an alternative livelihood. This will contribute to social, economic, and physical stability in the affected rural areas.

B.3: Strategy for Implementation

Close on-going technical support will be required for the initial participating households to minimise the risks associated with farming in Mongolia’s erratic climate. Earlier technical partners from the green revolution effort (NGOs and NPAP) will play a key role in supporting the local level implementation.

The target group is only just emerging. For the purposes of planning, it is anticipated that a minimum of 1,200 affected herder households would participate with an overall project budget of around US$ 88,000. Implementation period: 1 year starting from April 1, 2000, with possibility of extending into a second year with an increase in the number of beneficiaries.

B.4: Budget for Implementation

Total cost US$
Vegetable seeds
Materials: Tools, Storage facilities, Infrastructure/well rehabilitation, land preparation
Technical support


C. Water Supply & Pastureland Irrigation

Coordinating Agency: UNDP, FAO
Government Counterpart: Ministry of Agriculture & Industry
Implementing Partner: WASH-21 Project
Location of Initiative: Dundgobi, Umnugobi, Dornogobi aimags
Time frame: May-October 2000

C.1. Background and Context

Under the collective system prior to 1990, much emphasis was placed on the construction of wells, particularly bored and mined wells, to expand accessibility to grazing areas. Between 1956 and 1990, approximately 29,000 mechanical (engineered) wells were established. However, the number of mechanical wells still operational has decreased by 50% since the economic transition began in 1990. During the same period, the number of livestock increased by 30-40%. After dismantling the collective system, the number of functioning mechanical wells rapidly declined until about 1997, owing to the lack of maintenance, management/ownership and financial arrangements. This is associated with failures of the privatization process of livestock and collective assets (i.e. failure to designate responsibility for repair and maintenance of water points, which was the perceived responsibility of the government). Recently, the Government began to provide approximately 300 million Tugriks annually for the rehabilitation of mechanical wells through the Ministry of Agriculture and Industry. Funds are mainly targeted at the Gobi and steppe regions where surface water is scarce. The budget provides 10-50 million Tugriks per aimag per year, which permits the rehabilitation of 8-25 mechanical wells per aimag annually. However, there are still over 800 engineered wells to be rehabilitated nationwide, even when counting only those wells which are absolutely essential.

A major difficulty facing both humans and animals is the lack of drinking water. The disaster has greatly aggravated this circumstances. Animals have to spend more time accessing scarce water sources, which shortens their grazing time and forces them to expend more energy walking to water. Herders must collect their own water from open ponds and streams - often the same source used by the livestock. In addition, the quality of drinking water in the Gobi and steppe regions is poor because it has a high mineral/chemical content. The increased reliance on shallow dug wells has resulted in an increased incidence of waterborne diseases (diarrhea, infectious hepatitis) among the human population.

Rehabilitation efforts must help to stabilize and restore environmentally degraded areas to ensure sustainable development. Local communities and government see improved water supplies as the highest priority. Addressing water supply needs will have an immediate and far-reaching impact on improving the communities’ nutrition and food security as well as restoring the physical environment.

C.2 Objective

The objective is to improve access to water for livestock and human populations by rehabilitating old wells and establishing new water points in an ecologically responsible manner, which will contribute to improved pastureland management and will prevent further desertification.

C.3 Strategy for Implementation

A joint water rehabilitation effort is proposed in at least three affected aimags that fall in the arid steppe and Gobi regions. Approximately 180 wells, which are no longer functioning will be rehabilitated. In addition, 1,300 new water points for shallow wells will be identified to improve access to pasture land.

Under the rehabilitation initiative, 100 percent of the restoration costs of strategically selected water points will be provided. Before any rehabilitation takes place, however, the local administrator will present a sustainable management plan of how each water site will be maintained once it is repaired with community participation. The business plan will include a maintenance schedule, physical and human protection to the sites, and the assessment and collection of user fees. A description and commitment as to how all operating costs will be covered will be included. If the business plan is deemed feasible by the water engineer (to be hired as part of the initiative), and if community volunteers agree, the rehabilitation work will proceed.

Rehabilitation will mostly involve replacing pumps and cleaning wells. There are several private drilling companies operating in the affected aimags which have the capacity to undertake this initiative. Competitive bidding will be undertaken to select the most qualified and experienced firm(s).

Shallow wells (of 10-20 meter depth) will be built or renovated at appropriate sites near low-lying areas which hold water underground for a long period of time even after surface water disappears. A limited number of deeper wells (up to 100 meters) will also be rehabilitated in places where the water table cannot otherwise be accessed. In addition to providing water for human and animal consoumption, some wells will also encourage gardening.

New water points suitable for building traditional shallow/dug wells will be also identified through hydrological survey, taking into consideration environment concerns. However, the actual construction of shallow wells will be the responsibility of the local herder communities.

The operation condition of the wells to be rehabilitated will be assessed by on-site inspection. This will determine whether the wells have been rehabilitated and whether they continue to function. All rehabilitated wells will be surveyed. Information on the flow rate and the rate of usage can be collected from the local government and community responsible for the well. Impact will be determined by assessing the incidence of waterborne disease in the area. This data will be collected by the MOHSW.

Given the legacy of the supply-driven approach during the socialist system, when arrangements were solved from outside the area, care will be taken to avoid creating dependency and thereby undermining the community problem-solving initiative. These concerns have already been discussed with government leaders in the aimags.

C.4 Budget for Implementation

Total Cost US$
Rehabilitation of 100 deep wells
Rehabilitation of 80 mined wells
Identifying 1,300 new water points
Technical support and monitoring

D. Nutrition

Coordinating agency: UNICEF, WHO

Government counterparts: Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; Ministry of Agriculture and Industry

Implementing Partners:
National Nutrition Research Center.
Aimag level: Office of the Governor/Public Health Center. Soum level: Office of the Governor, Soum hospitals, IFCR, MRC, SCF (UK), WV1 and others to be specified.

Location of Initiative: All affected soums

D.1. Background and Context

According to the UNICEF supported national nutrition survey conducted in November 1999 by the Nutrition Research Center, it is estimated that 12.5%, 24.6%, and 3.7% of children under five were underweight, stunted, and suffering from wasting, respectively (less than 2 S.D.(standard deviations), according to NCHS-CDC-WHO standards). 8.44 percent of children under five exhibited severe stunting (Z-score < - 3 S.D.). It should also be noted that overall children in rural areas were 57% more likely to be stunted than those in cities.

The survey also revealed that 56.5% of children under-five and 71.1% of mothers in rural areas are suffering from anemia. 32% of all children under five suffer from rickets. Among children aged 8 – 11 years 21.3% suffer from iodine defficiency disorders.

Thus, the nutrition situation in Mongolia in November 1999 sets a stage for a significant escalation of malnutrition in affected areas. The situation was already fragile during the period the survey was conducted, because of the changes occurring in the social and economic environment of the country. A steady level of poverty, around 36% in 1995 and 1998, and an increase in extreme poverty, reported by the 1995 and 1998 Living Standard Measurement Survey (LSMS), raise serious concerns. Unless basic social services are protected and employment opportunities created, the deterioration in access and quality of those services will continue.

The recent dzud disaster, due to its magnitude and devastating effects on the life of the population in several aimags, its disruption of the food security mechanism, and its projected indirect effects on the overall economy of the country, may become the catalyst for a progressive sharp deterioration in the food security situation, and subsequently in the population’s nutritional status. Moreover, according to the November 1999 national survey, conducted just before the dzud, 26.4% and 9.4% of children under 5 were already stunted and severely stunted ( - 3 S.D.), respectively, in 3 of the affected aimags which were included in the survey sample.

Since 1992, the FAO has classified Mongolia as a Low Income Food Deficit country due to low net income per person, net importation of basic foodstuffs for three years or more, and lack of sufficient foreign exchange to purchase needed food on the international market. In Mongolia, food security is also contingent upon weather conditions and the difficulties of long distance transport, a major hindrance in domestic food distribution. Although the national average iodized salt consumption was 46.8% of households, in many remote regions, including significant areas affected by the disaster, less than 25% of households are consuming iodized salt. Coverage of women and children with other micronutrient supplement (Vit. A,D, and iron) remain low.

The 70% decline in domestic food production from 1991 to the present has created a dependency on imported food. The lack of cash in Mongolia’s rural areas raises serious questions about how the rural population procure food and other items even in normal times, let alone during the current emergency situation. The Mongolian diet is dominated by meat, dairy, and flour products. The return to livestock herding as a survival strategy since the transition began has increased the dependence on meat and milk. Although in 1979-1981 estimated dietary caloric intake was 2400 kcl/day/person and 82 grams of protein, by 1992-1994 the estimate had fallen to 1920 kcal/day/person and 66 grams of protein.

During the coming spring, the situation amongst the affected population is likely to become desperate, because of the depletion of winter food reserves of dry meat and dairy products, which are presently being consumed. Even if they overcome a difficult summer, herders and non-herders will not be able to prepare sufficient food reserves for next winter, because there will not be enough livestock to slaughter and because food prices will increase. A sharp decline in caloric and protein intake is foreseen unless remedial actions are taken. Malnutrition, especially among the poor (whose children are already 64% more likely to be underweight compared to those in the better-off households, according to the 1999 survey [RR=1.64, 95% C.L. 1.27-2.10]), will certainly rise. This situation will also increase the susceptability of children to infectious diseases due to the general undernourishment.

Food aid is foreseen for the most vulnerable segments of the population and is addressed in the food aid appeal once the WFP mission provides its assessment. Supplementary feeding, mostly through a protein enriched soybean mixture, high energy biscuits, and micronutritiont supplementation for infants, children under 5, and pregnant women in the most affected areas.

Severe scarcity of fluids, and therefore dehydration, is foreseen in the Gobi area, where the traditional sources of liquids in summer are milk and airag, the traditional drink of fermented mare’s milk. The issue of improving water supply is attended to elsewhere in the appeal.

D. 2 Objectives

To contribute to restoring adequate nutrition in affected areas occupied by 350,000 people. To prevent a sharp increase in malnutrition resulting from a sharp fall in protein intake, dietary imbalances, and inadequate intake of micronutrients, especially among children and women in affected areas. To provide immediate supplementary feeding to infants, children under 5, and pregant women based on identified needs. To improve monitoring of nutrition status among the affected population.

D.3 Strategy for Implementation

A general food aid component for the disaster-affected people will be forthcoming as soon as the WFP mission, who arrived in Mongolia in late March, has completed their assessment of food requirements.

A combination of growth monitoring and promotion activities including supplementary feeding, micronutrient supplementation and information-education - communication (IEC) will be implemented. The final design of the intervention will depend on a more detailed assessment now pending.

The program will achieve its objectives through the following strategies:

(1) Building on local, community and family capacity to restore food security.

(2) Building on already existing systems/networks (PHC and schools) to, for example, distribute supplementary food and essential micronutrients.

(3) Procuring items through already well-established cost-effective supplies (UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen, regional networks, et al).

(4) Strenghtening outreach (feldshers) and establishing add-on services (for example, supplementary feeding in PHC) when needed.

(5) Promoting education on proper nutrition and care practices in households and facilities.

(6) Reinforcing growth monitoring and nutrition surveillance.

(7) Coordinating interventions among partners and with the government.

(8) Strenghtening collaboration with NGOs (IFCR - SCF UK, others).


1. Acute Emergency phase: April 00-September 00

(1) Conduct an immediate assessment of the vulnerabililty level of populations in affected aimags.

(2) Introduce supplementary feeding (soy bean mixture, high energy biscuits, etc.) for children under 5 and pregnant women during the near term.

(3) Strengthen micronutrient supplementation with emphasis on vitamin A (to prevent ARI and other diseases), vitamin D, iron folate and multivitamin (for pregnant women) and pediatric iron for infants and young children.

(4) Provide generically-labelled breastmilk substitutes for infants who cannot be breastfed due to failed lactation among malnourished mothers. (carefully controlled administration and education efforts will be undertaken in order not to affect current high breastfeeding rates in the country).

(5) Strengthen growth monitoring at the soum hospital level with involvement of communities and families.

(6) Utilize growth monitoring charts extensively for screening under-nutrition in children under 5.

(7) Strengthen community and family care capacity according to the UNICEF nutrition strategy.

2. Rehabilitation phase: May 00 to April 01

In addition to the above-mentioned activites:

(8) Establish routine mechanisms and make periodic re-assessements to monitor the effectiveness of inputs, complementary and unmet needs, household food security, and access to potable water supply.

(9) Encourage local authorities to utilise the information obtained immediately and introduce a systematic compiling and response system.

(10) Support local feeding programs for small children in hospitalas and kindergartens.

Target groups

Families with children under 5 and pregnant women. Disaster-affected people, including children under five, pregnant and lactating women, and boarding school children.

D.4. Budget for Implementation

Unit Cost US$
Total Cost US$
High energy biscuits
0.80 x 25,000 packs
Soybean Protein Mixture
1.50 x 25,000 packs
Generically labelled breastmilk substitute
2.00 x 3,840 kg
Vit A supplements
8.90 x 500 bottles
Vit D supplements
2.87 x 800 bottles
Pediatric iron folate in liquid form
0.47 x 4,470 bottles
Multivitamin tabl. N1000
5.00 x 900 boxes
Iodized salt
0.30 x 8,900 kg
Basic kitchen equipment - hospitals/kindergarten
300.00 x 152 hospitals
Height measurement instrument
22.05 x 152 hospitals
82.80 x 3 x 152 hospitals
Supply subtotal
Freight (30%) express delivery
Growth monitoring/nutrition surveillance
200.00 x 152 hospitals
Workshop - rapid nutrition assessment
1,200.00 x 13 aimags
WHO manual on Nutritional assessment
25.00 x 149 hospitals
IEC activities through mass media
Distribution and monitoring costs

E. Health

Coordinating Agencies: UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO
Government Counterparts: Ministry of Health and Social Welfare
Implementing Partners: MONGOLIMPEX, the RH Unit, the aimag, soum authorities and health system.
Location of Initiative: All affected aimags

E.1 Background and Context

Each disaster-affected aimag has a specialised central hospital. Each soum has a small hospital (20-25 beds). In the soums, outreach services are provided by feldshers (primary health care workers) and by local doctors. The doctors usually travel by jeep, the feldshers by motor cycle or horse, to provide preventive and emergency care.

For the last several years, health budgets throughout the country have been very low. As a result, all health facilities have chronic severe shortages of everything: basic medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, consoumables (e.g. gloves, dressings) and fuel for vehicles.

All health facilities in the dzud-affected areas are facing severe additional strains:

(a) Although in most health facilities staff levels are high, several soum hospitals in the affected areas have no physicians. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) has therefore instructed the aimag hospitals to send medical teams to work in those areas.

(b) The feldsher system has been in decline for several years. For example, in Uvurkhangai aimag, only about 55% of the feldsher posts are occupied. Because they have lost their horses, those feldshers still working are unable to visit rural families. In addition, feldshers must maintain animal herds to supplement their meagre income. Many are now preoccupied with trying to save their own stock.

(c) Some soum hospitals are under increased financial strain because many people have temporarily migrated into their area and are seeking medical care. Although the hospitals have been instructed by MOHSW to provide free services to these people, they have not yet received additional funds or supplies to do so.

(d) Because of the lack of funds, 34 affected soums have no ambulances. All soums lack funds to purchase fuel and to send vehicles on emergency calls or to transport severely ill patients to the aimag hospital.

(e) Because priority is being given to transporting urgent cases, preventive health services have been particularly affected. In some soums, routine vaccination programs for children have temporarily ceased.

So far, the dzud has had only a limited direct impact on the population’s health, although there are isolated reports of herders dying from exposure while searching for lost animals, and of people (especially young children) perishing from pneumonia because of the delay in obtaining appropriate medical care. Human health is expected to deteriorate during the coming months, however, for the following reasons:

(a) Because families have lost their horses, they are unable to readily access health facilities. They must walk many hours (up to three days) to receive medical assistance. Pregnant women find it increasingly difficult to receive regular antenatal care and to travel to maternal rest homes to await the onset of labor. The number of home deliveries without professional assistance will probably increase over the coming months with a resultant increase of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality.

(b) Drugs are not provided free in the Mongolian health system. Because the herders have used all their cash reserves to purchase food and tonics for their animals, they have nothing left to buy medicines for themselves. Unless migrating families have carried all their documents with them, they are unable to purchase medicines subsidized by the National Health Insurance system.

(c) The psychological impact on the whole population is severe. Deaths of animals from starvation affect the whole community almost as deeply as the death of human friends.

(d) As food shortages become widespread, people will become increasingly malnourished. They will become more prone to infections, and other chronic conditions will be exacerbated.

(e) During summer, most fluid intake is in the form of fermented milk. Because milk will not be available this year, people will congregate near functioning wells, increasing the risk of water contamination and gastrointestinal infections.

(f) At the end of summer, people will increasingly hunt marmots, both as a source of food and for their pelts. They will be exposed to the risk of contracting bubonic plague, which is endemic among these rodents and the cause of annual outbreaks in many areas.

E.2: Objective

The multiple health related objectives include:

To ensure that rural populations have reliable access to essential health care through the provision of essential drugs and medical consumables, reproductive health kits, vehicles and fuel.

To prevent the transmission of infectious disease by continuing priority immunization programs and through health education.

To provide therapeutic feeding for severely malnourished persons requiring hospitalization.

To assist MOHSW to monitor the dzud’s impact on human health, the distribution of medical supplies and to evaluate the impact of the intervention activities.

E.3. Strategy for Implementation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will supply essential drugs for all aimag and soum hospitals in the affected areas as well as small first aid medical packs for rural families to mitigate against their loss of access to medical services. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) will supply essential reproductive health equipment and medicines for aimag and soum hospitals in the affected areas, and for feldshers. UNICEF will supply essential drugs (See previous section), micronutrients and oral rehydration salt. Distribution of these items will be organised by the MOHSW and MONGOLIMPEX, the government’s drug distribution agency, with technical assistance from the Reproductive Health unit, UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO staff.

Vehicles and fuel will be provided to selected soums for both emergency transport and to ensure the continued provision of routine preventive health care.

UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO will provide technical assistance to MOHSW to identify key indicators and to develop a MIS framework to monitor the health impacts of the dzud, to track the distribution of assistance, and to evaluate the impact of the interventions. Technical staff from the three agencies will assist MOHSW to organize and conduct surveys and other monitoring activities in the affected areas.


(1) Procure and distribute essential drugs (WHO/UNICEF), RH supplies and equipment (UNFPA) to all affected areas (MOHSW and MONGOLIMPEX).

(2) Support mobile medical teams to visit aimag hospitals and soum hospitals as required (MOHSW).

(3) Provide vehicles and fuel for primary health care, monitoring and emergency medical transport with a focus on displaced persons (MOHSW).

(4) Strengthen the health surveillance system (WHO, MOHSW).

(5) Conduct health surveillance surveys as required (UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, MOHSW).

E.4: Budget for Implementation

Unit Cost US$
Total Cost US$
Essential drugs/medical consumables for 6 months
Family medical kits for isolated households
3.72 x 52,500
Reproductive health subkits (incl. freight to Ulaanbaatar)
Russian Jeeps to function as ambulances
4,500 x 10
Fuel for ambulances for 26 weeks (124 soums)
Transportation cost for drugs/medical consumables/kits
Monitoring/evaluation (143 soums)
Monitoring visits to disaster areas (143 soums)

F. Education

Coordinating Agency: UNICEF and UNESCO
Government Counterpart: Ministry of Science, Technology, Education and Culture
Implementing Partners: Aimag Governments, Aimag Education Centres, Soum Governments and soum schools, NPAP and APAC
Location of Initiative: All affected soums

F.1 Background and Context

A number of socio-economic and political factors have contributed to the weakening of education system and led to unfavorable learning environments, low motivation and absenteeism of teachers, and increased drop out rates, etc. Prior to the disaster, rural schools and boarding hostels were already confronting shortfalls: only 18% of children from nomadic herdering families had an opportunity to stay in boarding hostels (50% of boarding hostels are not operating currently due to the lack of heating, hostel furnitures, beds and other basics).

The prevailing situation in the disaster affected soums and aimags has had a negative impact on the education system, exacebating teaching and learning environment problems:

(a) Radiators in soum schools and boarding hostels froze due to extreme cold during last winter, and local governments had to allocate available resources on saving livestock rather than school heating.

(b) In most disaster affected aimags, schools had close for one to two months. Many children were excused from classes to assist herding parents to take care of animals, which was imperative for families. Dropout rates are increasing.

(c) Families lost horses, the means of transportation to school for children from remote areas. Due to lack of cash and animals, families could not afford school clothing and boots for their children to be able to attend school.

(d) Many families split into two groups during the school year (leaving the school children in a soum centre near school, while herding adults moved to remote grazing locations with the herds), and also split their winter food supplies. Once the families’ winter food reserves are exhausted, they will no longer be able to afford sustaining two separate households to enable children to attend school.

(e) Schools have lost their own herds of animals which are used to feed the children. Teachers have also lost their animals, which are essential to supplement their low incomes (average US$ 30 per month). This has placed many teachers in poverty, and teacher absenteeism will be an issue in coming years as they seek other means to increase their incomes.

(f) Food shortage in dormitories is evident.

F.2. Objective

The multiple education related objectives include:

To prevent the collapse of soum and bag schools and massive drop outs in disaster affected areas. To provide relief and rehabilitative assistance in soum and bag schools, dormitories and kindergartens which will meet the basic needs of children of age 3-16 (60% of pre-school children and 90% of school children live in disaster-affected areas). To support local governments to recover mechanisms for the protection and welfare of vulnerable children.

F.3 Strategy for Implementation

Establish a local group to manage education relief and rehabilitation programme in each soum. Formulate a detailed plan for education relief and rehabilitation assistance to coordinate with other emergency relief actions which will increase access for nomadic children to education and improve child-friendly teaching and learning schools. Rehabilitate school facilities to retain children in schools. Utilize the school network to channel food to children in disaster-affected areas.



(1) Supply food aid for children in dormitories and kindergartens to meet basic nutritional needs.

(2) Supply livestock and vegetable growing equipment to schools.

(3) Supply dormitory kitchen equipment, beds, bed sheets, library tools.

(4) Supply boots and clothing to pre-school and school children.


(1) Replace heating systems in soum schools and dormitories which were frozen during the winter disaster so that children can continue their education during coming winters.

(2) Renovate school buildings and dormitories where holes were made during the disaster for chimney pipes, repair broken windows, ceilings, doors to attain a minimum standard of healthy teaching and learning environment.

(3) Provide non-formal education programs for drop-out children during and after the disaster which will assist them to reintegrated into mainstream formal school education.

(4) Organise incentive teacher training programs in disaster-affected aimags to prevent massive absenteeism of teachers and to increase teacher motivation

(5) Strengthen the capacity of Aimag Education Centres to provide and organise relief and rehabilitation assistance. Install internet connection to increase AECs capacity in timely data collection, flow of information and monitoring in conjuction with MoSTEC.

Target populations: Children aged 3-16 from herding families, teachers, and poor displaced families in aimag and soums centres.

F.4. Budget for Implementation

Unit Cost US$
Total cost US$
Food aid for school dormitories/kindergartens (152 soums)
Restocking of school herds and vegetable gardens
Boarding school kitchenware, bedding, small library
Boots & clothing for pre-school and school children
Installation of heating systems
School renovations
Non-formal education programme for drop-outs
Teachers development programme
Capacity building for Aimag Education Centres
Supply distribution costs

G. Coordination and Monitoring

G.1 Background and context of the appeal

The scale of the disaster and the requisite response is far beyond the financial capacity of the Government. The Government, therefore, requested the United Nations to appeal for international assistance. Additional specialized support is required by the UN team in country to ensure smooth delivery of relief inputs, to coordinate and collaborate with the Government and donors, to provide rapid and efficient disaster information.

G.2 Objective

The objective of the appeal is to mobilize the requisite human resources to ensure appropriate and timely delivery of international relief assistance that is being channeled through the UN system. Regular monitoring should take place in the assisted areas. Progress and impact of the international relief should be regularly reported to the Government, the donors and the UNDMT members.

G.3 Strategy for implementation

The first two short-term staff have been recruited to coordinate and monitor the initial UN relief assistance in close cooperation with the Government, NGO’s and the respective UN agencies. They have overseen the procurement and delivery of the first relief inputs.

Funds are required to mobilize a complete team that will have a strong logistics capacity for speedy delivery of the increased relief inputs that are expected. This team will be mobile and will be responsible for liasing with herders and local administrators to ensure the targeting and proper delivery of items. This team will be an essential component of the entire UN effort on this disaster.

The UNDMT relief team in Mongolia will be assisted by OCHA experts who will visit Mongolia periodically to provide their technical expertise from other disasters. Timeframe for implementation is 6 months.

G.4. Budget for Implementation

Costs US$
Mongolia based relief team (national and international experts, national and international volunteers, field missions, etc.)
Technical support from OCHA
Final evaluation OCHA/UNDMT


Mongolia is in the midst of a continuing disaster that is likely to get worse in the coming months as the perishing of animals accelerates. It is hard for non-Mongolians to grasp the direct link between the animals and the population - as the animals perish there is dire impact on the socio-economic condition of the herder, if not his/her very survival.

The international community is being called upon to support the relief and rehabilitation efforts that the United Nations family is embarking on to minimize the damage of the present disaster. There is an urgent need to get the herders, their families and the animals back on their feet. The emergency inputs to save some animals and plant the vegetable seeds must be delivered at latest during the months of April and May 2000.

From this crisis will emerge long term opportunities to address the optimal balance between herders, their animals and the land. This careful consideration and requisite action should strengthen the ability of Mongolians to better withstand future natural calamities.

The United Nations community working in Mongolia is grateful for the consideration of support of potential donors during this acute challenge to the people of modern Mongolia.