FbF Webinar III: From Early Warning to Early Action in Mongolia - Bracing for the cold to protect livestock and livelihoods

Jul 2018

Acting early before a disaster is critical: it can save lives and protect livelihoods from the immediate shocks as well as protecting longer term development gains by increasing the resilience of local communities over time. A growing body of evidence also supports the cost effectiveness of this approach. A recent contribution to this repository of knowledge is study of the 2017/2018 localized dzud event in Mongolia, where FAO and the Mongolian Red Cross Society implemented early actions to protect herder livelihoods.

The dzud is the Mongolian term for a harsh and cold winter season, characterized by heavy snowfall and bitter temperatures with some areas reaching -50 degrees. Commonly, these harsh winter periods are preceded by a dry summer period, which can compromise pasture availability and herders ability to collect enough hay for their stores. If the winter is severe, the animals must rely on stores of food rather than grazing. When the supplies run out, the animals get weaker until they freeze or starve to death. Such events are known to wipe out millions of heads of livestock, driving the poorer households into destitution and instigating rural-to-urban migration, as herders search for an alternative income source.