Six million heads of livestock died in Mongolia PDF Print E-mail
News - Business and Economy
Saturday, 17 April 2010 19:45

dzud_joseph_tameUlaanbaatar / Six million heads of livestock died due to extreme weather conditions in Mongolia. 14.3% of the 44 million heads counted in the beginning of 2010 have been lost.

These livestock are the primary source of income and food for nomadic families, and as a result thousands are struggling to survive.

The Mongolian government has declared a state of national disaster in 19 out of the 21 country's provinces.

The National Emergency and Management Agency (NEMA) has published a summary of the livestock death toll for the 2010 winter. Out of the 6.3 million livestock dead,  3.2 million are goats (52%), 2.5 million sheep (40%), and the rest are cows, horses and camels.

Cause of deathNEMA_dzud_2010_by_Dan

This winter 11 snow storms combined with extreme cold temperatures, named locally as Dzud, hit Mongolia.

The temperatures dropped to -30 -40 degrees Celsius making it impossible for the hungry and weak animals to survive.

A period of dry summers in the past have reduced the amount and quality of grazing pasture. In some areas over-grazing has reduced pastures even further. Herders have had to travel with their livestock long distances in search of better pastures.

The heavy snowfall that covered the existing pastures, together with inadequate preparation for alternative feeding increased the death toll.

Impact on herders

More than half a million people dependent on livestock for their livelihood have been affected all across Mongolia. In a country of 2.7 million people, that accounts for 18% of the entire population that is in desperate need for assistance.

The National Emergency and Management Agency (NEMA) has indicated that 8,711 families have lost their entire herd. 32,756 herder households lost over 50 percent of their livestock.

The Red Cross estimates that 20,000 people have begun their migration towards the capital city of Ulan Bator in hope to find work in a city that is already suffering from a high rate of unemployment. 1,400  families have already migrated to urban areas following the disaster.

Severe snow storms, have claimed the lives of 17 people who froze to death while grazing with their animals.

Herding families left with small herds of a few hundred heads will find it difficult to regain their losses in the current reproduction cycle with fewer females to give birth to newborn.

The most vulnerable herder families with limited available resources are facing difficulty in securing adequate food to feed their families and fuel to heat their gers.

Impact on the economy

Eighty-eight percent of Mongolia's agriculture sector is animal husbandry, which contributes 19% to Mongolia's GDP, with a 1/3 of the country's employment dependent on herding.

According to the Mongolian  National Statistical Office (MNSO), as of 14th of April, the price of meat  has sky rocketed. The price of mutton has risen by 16.5%, beef 18%, goat 28.8%  and horse meat 7.7%.  In a country where the diet is heavily dependent on meat, the rising prices will affect all households.

The total debt to commercial banks, of 69,600 herder families has reached MNT63.9 billion. MNT2.1 billion of total debt is accounted for herders who lost all livestock. The government together with the national bank of Mongolia is developing measures to protect the herders remaining assets from being seized by the banks. The measures will include extending the loan term and exemption from overdue interest penalty.

The government delivered aid of MNT6.8 billion to herders, while international organizations, individuals and entities sent aid amounting to MNT3.5 billion.


The cleanup

As the snow begins to melt, the millions of carcasses scattered in the countryside pose an environmental disaster, water contamination risk and  health hazard.

The UN Development Program (UNDP), together with the Mongolian National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has launched a cash-for-work program to bury the carcasses and provide immediate income to the most vulnerable families.

The cash-for-work income in total is expected to be sufficient to stock flour and rice for three months of consumption for an average household.

By: Dan This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

reply written by Allie , April 23, 2010

In Australia there has been nothing in our news services about this awful disaster you are suffering. I am sure it will take some time for your families and your herds to recover. Our deepest sympathies to you all
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reply written by yuna , April 19, 2010

its okey i love mongolia
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Last Updated on Saturday, 17 April 2010 21:30
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