Forecasts of one of the most extreme winters on record in Mongolia have triggered the release of pre-emptive emergency funds in a bid to protect the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable herders, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced today.
Mongolia’s National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring has warned that more than 60 per cent of the country is at risk of an extreme winter, with temperatures forecast to plummet to extreme lows of -50C for days on end.
These extreme winters – known as dzud – threaten the health and livelihoods of thousands of Mongolian herders living in the country’s remote central and southern provinces. A dzud is caused by the double impact of drought in the summer followed by harsh winter conditions. Without summer rain, grass does not grow and millions of farm animals cannot put on enough weight to survive the winter and farmers are unable to grow sufficient hay.
The unwelcome news of the coming dzudhas triggered the release of nearly 290,000 Swiss francs (about US$ 314,000) from the IFRC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund. This will allow the Mongolian Red Cross to support 2,000 herder families in a bid to prevent major stock and economic loss through the distribution of cash grants and animal care kits.
The release of these funds come as part of the IFRC’s Forecast-based Financing approach.
In 2010, a dzud killed more than 11 million animals and thousands of herder families were forced off the land. Mongolia’s Information and Research Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment has predicted that severe dzuds like the 2010 event will become more frequent, occurring every four to five years instead of every 10.