Death of millions of livestock and better resource management (MediaGlobal)

Read at :

Death of millions of livestock in Mongolia provokes action towards better resource management

By Rebekah Mintzer

21 May 2010 [MediaGlobal]: A recent weather-related disaster in Mongolia, called a “dzud” has caused the death of millions of livestock and negatively impacted the livelihoods of the many nomadic herders in Mongolia. As a result, many UN agencies, including International Labor Organization (ILO) and NGO partners, have issued a Consolidated Appeal (CAP) in order to obtain aid for the affected populations. Development organizations like Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC) have contributed significantly by rethinking land management techniques in Mongolia in order to mitigate the effects of the dzuds.

A dzud occurs when a summer drought is followed by a winter of heavy snow and freezing temperatures. This results in a lack of plant growth, and therefore a lack of fodder for livestock. This 2009-2010 dzud has impacted 800,000 Mongolians by causing the death of about 17 percent of the country’s livestock and counting. The Mongolian government has given 15 of 21 provinces disaster status.

The CAP requests a total of $18,150,794 in order to provide for the immediate, medium-term, and long-term needs of affected herders and their families. This includes fulfilling basic needs for food security, water and sanitation, as well as for health support, both physical and psychological. Those who have lost their homes may require help with resettlement and finding new ways of making a living.

There is an urgent need to prevent more herders from losing their livelihoods completely. “The largest amount requested is for support to herders who have viable herds – but who will need urgent assistance with fodder and veterinary support over the coming period, Rana Flowers, UN Resident Coordinator for Mongolia told MediaGlobal in an e-mail. “By supporting these herders we are stopping further groups moving into destitution and requiring heightened food aid and other support.”

Another challenge that the CAP seeks to address is the migration of herder families to towns and cities due to the loss of livelihoods in the dzud. Flowers and the UN estimate that at least 20,000 herders will be migrating to find employment and basic services that will likely be difficult to get. According to Flowers, the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT) will be tracking the migration patterns. “Then other relevant UN agencies will look at the provision of outreach health services and education; access to pre-school and primary school education; employment and retraining, as well as food and nutrition needs,” she said.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

%d bloggers like this: