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


This webinar was organised with support from the European Union.

Anticipatory Action (AA) webinar seriesFrom Early Warning to Early Action in Mongolia: Bracing for the cold to protect livestock and livelihoods

18 July 2018 – 10.00 - 11.30 CEST

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  • Jigjidpurev Sukhbaatar, Livestock Emergency Projects Coordinator and Early Warning Early Action focal point, FAO Mongolia
  • Niccolò Lombardi, Early Warning Early Action Specialist, FAO
  • Clemens Gros, Monitoring and Evaluation Adviser, Red Cross Climate Centre


  • Dunja Dujanovic, Technical Officer, Early Warning Early Action, FAO

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.

The webinar aims to:

  • Provide an overview of the approach taken by FAO’s Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) and Mongolia Red Cross Society’s Forecast-based Financing (FbF) in Mongolia to act early to protect the most at risk and safeguard livestock in the face of dzud;
  • Present the results of the Return-on-Investment analysis conducted to quantify the costs and benefits of acting early in Mongolia;
  • Present the impact evaluation analysis that describes the reduction of risks achieved by the Forecast-based Financing intervention;
  • Discuss the lessons learned from the case of Mongolia, also in light of the risks flagged in FAO’s Early Warning Early Action Report (July-September 2018).

Agenda of the event:

  • Welcome remarks (5 minutes): Introduction to panel, presenters and objectives of webinars
  • Presentations (45 minutes): Overview of the risks flagged in FAO's Early Warning Early Action Report (July-September 2018); FAO Early Action and MRCS’s FbF Projects in Mongolia: objectives, timeline, implementation; Results of the return on investment (ROI) analysis and Impact Evaluation of early actions for dzud in Mongolia
  • Questions and discussion (30 minutes)
  • Wrap-up (5 minutes)


FAO Early Warning Early Action

FAO’s Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) links forecasts to anticipatory actions to lessen the impact of disasters. It focuses on consolidating available forecasting information and putting plans in place to make sure FAO acts when a warning is at hand. At global level, FAO EWEA provides a quarterly forward looking report (Global Early Warning Early Action Report) which flags the main risks to agriculture and food security while providing recommendations on early actions. The analysis is based on information provided by existing FAO corporate and joint multi-agency information and early warning systems. At country level, early action projects have been implemented in a number of countries, including Madagascar, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mongolia and Niger. Pilots are being set up in the Philippines, Vietnam and the Pacific Islands.

In November 2017, FAO launched an Early Action project to safeguard livestock against the impending localised dzud. Over the course of the project, FAO Mongolia supported vulnerable herder households who were at high risk in central and western parts of the country (Zavkhan, Arkangai, Bulgan, Tuv and Uvurkhangai aimags). Using tailored targeting criteria, which was established alongside the Ministry of Social Development, the FAO team provided support to 504 households. Herders received support through destocking-for-cash activities, the provision of feed and nutrient supplements, and quarantine equipment to control the spread of Foot-and-Mouth disease. Meat purchased by FAO from the rural households was further distributed to an additional 500 vulnerable households in Ulaanbaatar.

The effectiveness of the early actions implemented by FAO in Mongolia was measured through a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis comparing primary data collected from beneficiary and non-beneficiary households. Key benefits assessed included reduced livestock mortality, avoided loss of cashmere production value, avoided deterioration of livestock body conditions, among others.

Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s Forecast-based Financing

The Red Cross Red Crescent Movement’s Forecast-based Financing (FbF) enables access to humanitarian funding for early action based on in-depth forecast information and risk analysis. The goal of FbF is to anticipate disasters, prevent their impact, if possible, and reduce human suffering and losses. A key element of FbF is that the allocation of financial resources is agreed in advance, together with the specific forecast threshold that triggers the release of those resources for the implementation of early actions. The roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in implementing these actions are defined in the Early Action Protocol (EAP). This ensures the full commitment of implementation among the involved stakeholders. At country level, FbF projects have been developed and are ongoing in Peru, Ecuador, Togo, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Philippines, Mongolia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Solomon Islands.

With support from the British government, through the British Red Cross, the Mongolian Red Cross Society, supported early action livestock interventions in Mongolia. The project targeted 2000 households in 40 soums at extreme risk. These households received unconditional cash grants and animal-care kits to help them through the worst of the winter in order to minimize the impact of dzud.

Partnership and Collaboration

To scale up EWEA/FbF, partnership and collaboration between agencies and the government is essential. The Mongolia case offers an important example of how this could play out – such as ensuring efforts where not duplicated, the sharing of technical knowledge and acting based on the dzud impact risk map produced in cooperation between the Mongolia Met service and DRR agency, enabling agencies to use the same early warning signs/co-sharing information.

Webinar video

KORE team, July 19 2018 - 12:02:
The recording and report of the webinar will be published on this page shortly. Stay tuned.

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