The dzud – a winter of severe cold and heavy snow – has ravaged the country and is the worst of its kind in recent history. The government has declared disaster status in 15 of the country’s 21 provinces.
To date, the dzud has devastated the livelihoods of thousands of families who rely on their livestock for income, food and fuel. More than 7.5 million animals have died so far, representing over 17% of the total livestock in the country. This number grows daily covering the landscape with carcasses – a constant reminder of all that has been lost as well as becoming an increasing health threat.
Although the winter months are now over, heavy snowfall and sub-zero temperatures persist in many areas, prolonging and intensifying the suffering for both people and their livestock.
“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, UN Resident Coordinator, ai for Mongolia.
A 35 to 40 per cent increase in under-five mortality in dzud affected areas is just one indicator of the dramatic impact this disaster is having on the population. 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. Depression and suicide among herders is expected to increase as spring unfolds.
Many of those affected are now forced to seek alternate employment and are migrating to already overcrowded and underserviced peri-urban areas and will need considerable retraining and support to establish new livelihoods.
“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,“ added Ms Flowers.
To meet the needs of the population, the UN in Mongolia is collaborating with the National Emergency Management Agency and Government Ministries and will help build national capacity to develop preparedness and response plans for future disasters.
“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,” added Flowers. “The support of the international community remains essential to stem the growing mortality and improve the humanitarian plight of this vulnerable population.”
This Consolidated Appeal (CAP) draws together UN agencies including UNICEF, UNDP, FAO, UNFPA, UNESCO, UN Habitat, and ILO with concerned NGOs including the Mercy Corps, Action Contre la Faim, Save the Children, Adventist Development and Relief Agency, World Society for the Protection of Animals; and Joint Christian Services International; and is coordinated with the efforts of the International Federation of the Red Cross. It addresses the need for immediate assistance, medium- and long-term support, early recovery, resettlement and coordination programmes. It will assist the most affected herder populations to ensure food security and nutrition; access basic health, water, sanitation, hygiene and psychosocial support; education services; reduce further herd depletion, and create alternative livelihoods.
For more information please contact:
Rana Flowers, UNRC a.i. and UNICEF Representative, Cell: +976 99118274, Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
For inquiries and to establish interview in Geneva, please contact:
Elisabeth Byrs, OCHA Geneva, Information Officer/Spokesperson, Phone: + 41 22 917 26 53, Cell: + 41 (O) 79 473 45 70, Fax: + 41 22 917 00 20, E-mail address: email@example.com
For inquiries and to establish interview please contact in Mongolia:
Bolor Purevdorj, Communication Specialist, Phone: + 976-11-312183 Cell: + 976 99112652, E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org