KORE - Knowledge Sharing Platform on Resilience

Early action against dzud safeguards herders’ livelihoods in Mongolia

Policy brief

A dzud is a term used in Mongolia to describe a very harsh winter which is preceded by a hot and dry summer. The combination of these two events results in limited availability of fodder and wheat, a key food source for livestock to build up essential fat stores needed to last the winter. In these events, the most vulnerable herders cannot afford extra fodder, of which there is limited availability on the market. These climatic conditions can result in high livestock mortality where herders can lose their entire stock. Consequently, herders can become more indebted.

The increasing quality and reliability of early warning information allows forecasting the occurrence of dzud with a fairly good degree of confidence. These warnings create the conditions for triggering acting early to safeguard the livelihoods of the most vulnerable herders in the areas potentially most affected, rather than waiting for the full extent of the dzud impact to be known. This brief describes the early actions implemented by FAO to mitigate the effect of 2017/18 localized dzud on livestock, and it discusses the avoided losses and added benefits deriving from this anticipatory approach.

Key messages:

  • For every US dollar invested in early actions, vulnerable herders obtained USD 7.1 through avoided losses and added benefits.
  • Timely early warning information formed the basis for effective early action to protect livestock assets against dzud in Mongolia.
  • Safeguarding vulnerable herder livelihoods helped reduce indebtedness, ultimately contributing to resilience building
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