United Nations agencies and partner humanitarian organizations today requested more than $18 million to assist nearly 800,000 people in Mongolia who are suffering from the combined effects of a long, severe winter and a preceding harsh summer drought.
The dzud – a complex, natural disaster in which a summer drought is followed by heavy snowfalls and unusually low temperatures in winter, and then by a dangerous spring thaw – has destroyed the livelihoods of nearly 9,000 Mongolian families, who rely on their livestock for income, food and fuel.
More than 7.5 million animals, over 17 per cent of the country’s total livestock head, have died, according to humanitarian agencies.
Fifteen of Mongolia’s 21 provinces, home to an estimated 769,000 people, or 28 per cent of the population, have been declared disaster zones. Another four provinces are seriously affected, prompting the Mongolian Government to seek international assistance, hence the launch of the Consolidated Appeal (CAP).
“Unlike sudden onset emergencies, the dzud has evolved slowly and has progressively widened its geographical reach, forcing ever-growing numbers of people in rural areas into a battle for basic survival,” said Rana Flowers, acting UN Resident Coordinator for Mongolia.
Humanitarian agencies have reported a spike of up to 40 per cent in the mortality of children under the age of five in dzud-affected areas, an indicator of the seriousness of the emergency.
Increased acute and chronic malnutrition, micro-nutrient deficiencies among pregnant women, a lack of access to health care, widespread food insecurity, the loss of livelihoods and severe psychological trauma among herders and their families are also being seen, according to the UN humanitarian country team in Mongolia.
Many of those affected have been forced to seek alternate employment and are migrating to already overcrowded urban surroundings that lack basic services.
“While important short-term support has already been delivered, the situation is evolving and the needs of the population will grow over the coming months,” said Ms. Flowers.
UN agencies in Mongolia, in collaboration with the National Emergency Management Agency and Government ministries, plan to help build national capacity for disaster preparedness and response to avert shocks of the current magnitude in future.
“It is important that the victims of the dzud, mainly nomadic people living in remote regions, are not forgotten now that widespread media attention from the start of the disaster has faded while the impacts have only increased,” Ms. Flowers added. “The support of the international community remains essential to stem the growing mortality and improve the humanitarian plight of this vulnerable population,” she said.
Donors have to date contributed more than $1.3 million for the Mongolian emergency, leaving a deficit of $16.7 million of the funds required for effective response.