2017 dzud aid
Provides grass root solutions to give
Mongolian nomads a better future
This year began with an unexpected forecast of a second consecutive year for dzuds to occur across the country. 2016 had seen the worst winter conditions since 2010 when close on 10 million livestock perished, leaving thousands of herder households at risk of losing their livelihoods.
Although not as widespread as 2010, that of 2016 was said by many of the worst hit herders to have been harsher in terms of severity. In the event around 1.2 million livestock were lost, with some households having lost entire herds in just a few weeks.
At the start of 2017, the Mongolian Red Cross were already planning for emergency aid supported by their International group IFRC, which published its plan late in February for action during March. This would coincide with the birthing season when millions of newborns play their essential part in animal husbandry, replenishing stock either sold to provide a source of income, or otherwise lost to disease or disaster. Whereas in 2016 the dzud was spread uniformly across the country, in 2017 its worst effects were being felt in the northern provinces, and these were the target locations by aid agencies and Mongolian Government departments dealing with aid.
Khentii province in the eastern sector of those norther provinces had been badly hit, with many of its soums (sub-regions) experiencing snow and extremely low temperatures. This combination freezes snow making it impossible to feed on what little grazing is to be found, but equally hard to cope with when the extreme cold is compounded by storm strength winds, exposing livestock to these bitter conditions. When these occur after a drought summer, as was the case, animals are already in a weakened condition and more likely to succumb to the effects of malnutrition.
We launched an appeal that was taken up by IFAW (based in Massachusetts) with a grant to provide milk powder and mineral blocks to 400 herder households in the province. Those chosen were because they had less than 300 livestock which is a yardstick guide to households at a low income level, often in receipt of government benefits.
The pictures below are a selection from those taken at time of distribution, and after, to show some of the herders and their livestock putting the aid to good use. (right click to view larger image)