People in Need helps the east Mongolian herders who suffer from extreme frost

Published: Apr 7, 2016 Reading time: 5 minutes
People in Need helps the east Mongolian herders who suffer from extreme frost
© Foto: PIN Archive

Ulaanbaatar  (April 7, 2016) - Sixteen of the twenty one Mongolian provinces were hit with extreme cold called “zud”. During this year's zud, daytime temperatures hovered around negative 25 ° C and at night dropped to negative 40 ° C. Large amounts of snow and thick layers of ice covered most of the pastures. These extreme conditions have killed more than 200,000 farm animals. For some Mongolian herders, animals are the only source of livelihood. According to the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), dzud has affected nearly 965,000 people. People in Need (PIN), together with the EU and the Caritas Czech Republic, helps people in the provinces of Süchbátar, Chenti, Dornod and Dornogobi in the east of Mongolia. The most vulnerable families who lost their animals receive food packages. Food aid will help them survive the most critical period before they can rebuild their livelihoods.

"Last year, Mongolia has experienced an extremely dry summer, after which usually comes zud. Together with other international humanitarian organizations we have been there from early winter and mapped and assessed the situation and needs on the ground," said regional coordinator for Asia PIN Petr Drbohlav. "Currently, our staff on the ground is distributing food parcels to the most vulnerable families in two provinces in the east of the country," he adds. People in Need has a permanent office and development programs in Mongolia since the winter of 2010, when the country also faced zud.


Lack of food

The thirty-three year old father of two children, Zorigtbaatar Baasanjav, is living as a shepherd. Before zud he had a herd of about 165 animals. This year's frost had left him only a little more than 30 animals. "In the winter I tried to prepare and prepare a large inventory of hay and feed. But I've never seen zud in previous years, so for me this winter was extremely difficult. All supplies are gone. Now I have no hay or enough money to purchase more, "says Baasanjav. "Food from the People in Need help us survive this difficult period. In the future I will buy new cattle so I can take care of my family,” he adds. His son, Nomin Erdene, accompanies him. At the age of five he can already ride a horse and talks about how he enjoys life with animals in the countryside.

Going to town is not a solution

Many Mongolian herdsmen, due to the harsh frosts, go in search of livelihood in gers on the outskirts of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. There is usually not enough suitable work and extreme poverty and other social problems are part of life. Therefore, most of the local nomads don’t want to give up their way of life and move to the city because they do not see solutions to their problems.

Gantsog Lhagvasuren is forty one years old and a father of four children. To be able to feed his large family he breeds horses, goats, sheep and cattle; a total of 100 animals. This year's zud cost him nearly half of them. "The harsh winter I have not experienced. 40 animals were killed. But I believe that we will again stand on our own feet and live unassisted. Even if I had just five goats left and relocated to the city. What would I do there? I'd rather take care of my flock, if I can,” says Gantsog Lhagvasuren. "My kids will one day be able to decide whether they want to continue as herdsmen," he adds. His youngest daughter, seven-year Ganzul, cheerfully agreed: "I would not want to live in the city. I will live just like my dad and mom."

Distribution of food parcels

Animals for Mongolian families are not only a source of livelihood with which they can trade. For example, sheep's wool in Mongolia is an important building material. Animals are also an important source of milk, cheese and meat that will help them survive in very harsh conditions.

Loss of livestock for a family without sufficient savings is extremely detrimental. "We focus on families who need our help most. They receive food packages with basic foods such as rice, flour, oil, sugar, salt, and more. We do this in areas where people are faced with the unavailability of local markets. They are often hundreds of kilometers away from markets and people do not have the means to get there. “Roads are impassable during this time and direct food assistance will be much appreciated in these areas,"says Jaroslav Petrik PIN ordinator for Mongolia. "At the moment we are trying to provide humanitarian assistance to almost 250 households. We also continue to assess needs on the ground and we are ready to provide help for more than 2000 other families," he adds.

People in Need in Mongolia

PIN began working in Mongolia during the zud in 2010, when the country was hit by an unusually severe frost, which killed nearly 9 million heads of cattle. Herdsmen families were provided with financial and material assistance, allowing them to resume their agricultural trade and prepare for the next hard winter. Since 2011, PIN has a permanent mission in Mongolia. It has supported vocational training and small-scale agriculture, improved the availability and quality of health services in remote rural areas, provided education through documentary films and taught how to use wool as building insulation material. PIN in Mongolia conducted aid in cooperation with Caritas Czech Republic with the support of the European Commission (ECHO). The support of the Czech public who contributed through Club of Friends of People in Need was also extremely helpful. People in Need would like to thank all donors for their support.

For more information please contact:

Jaroslav Petrik PIN ordinator for Mongolia, M: +420 778 485 029

Petr Drbohlav, regional coordinator for Asia PIN, M: +420 724 329 285

Autor: PIN

Related articles