Mongolia is facing one of the most extreme winters on record, with temperatures forecast to plummet to lows of -50C for days on end. This has triggered the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to release emergency funds to quickly assist some 2,000 vulnerable herder families.
The extreme winter – known as dzud – threatens the health and livelihoods of thousands of Mongolian herders living in the country’s remote central and southern provinces.
Hence, as a pre-emptive tactic, the Mongolian Red Cross Society has delivered cash assistance and livestock nutrition kits in target areas to assist them in meeting their immediate needs and save their livestock, which is the main source of livelihoods for the people of Mongolia.
The widespread cash grants and animal care kits given in anticipation of the extreme winter will prevent major stock and economic loss not only for the country but for families and communities themselves. This is so because horses, camels, goats, cattle and sheep for milk, cashmere, meat, and other livestock products are the only source of income for our herders.
The double impact of drought in the summer followed by harsh winters are what causes dzuds. Without rain in the summer, grass does not grow, and millions of farm animals cannot be properly fed to put on enough weight for survival during the winter. On top of that, farmers are not able to grow sufficient harvests to sustain them through the winter either.
Mongolian Red Cross Society Secretary General Bolormaa Nordov said,
“Dzuds are devastating for the herder families who rely on their animals for almost everything, whether it’s meat and milk for food, or the cashmere and skins they sell to buy supplies or pay school fees. Losing their animals mean they can quickly fall into poverty.”
“Simply waiting for disasters to strike is no longer an option. Climate change is bringing more frequent and severe disasters and our anticipatory action approach is helping communities move from reacting after extreme weather events to preparing before these emergencies,” Ms Nordov said.
As part of its Forecast-based Financing, approach, IFRC has released nearly 290,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 314,000) from the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund to support early action.
This will allow the Mongolian Red Cross to help herder families in a bid to prevent major stock and economic loss through the distribution of cash grants and animal care kits.
The approach is about anticipating disasters and preventing their impact as best as possible in order to reduce human suffering and losses.