More than 55 700 livestock perish in extreme winter weather in northwestern Mongolia


Severe winter weather, also called dzud in Mongolia, has killed more than 55 700 livestock animals in the northwestern province of Khuvsgul since 2019, the provincial agricultural department reported on Monday, March 2, 2020.

In a statement, the department said a total of 55 764 livestock animals have perished in 11 administrative districts, or soums, in the Mongolian province since late last year due to the harsh winter conditions.

Moreover, heavy snowfall battered the province 16 times since the start of November. Relevant provincial organizations, together with the agricultural department, have been providing grass and fodder to local herders– either at discounted prices or without charges at all.

As of December 2019, Mongolia had a livestock population of 70.9 million. The country is one of the last nomadic countries in the world.

The National Emergency Management Agency also said that more than 80 soums in 15 provinces are suffering in dzud or near-dzud conditions, as snowfall has already blanketed 60 percent of the country.

Livestock farming is the main source of the country's national economy– roughly 40 percent of the nomadic population depend on it for their household income.

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In January 2020, the National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring (NAMEM) reported that more than 50 percent of the overall population is at risk in this year's winter.

This prompted the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS) to activate its Early Action Protocol– to be completed by March 8– which was aimed to support provinces by providing cash assistance and livestock kits.

In addition, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies also pre-agreed to release a total amount of 217 000 dollars to the MRCS.

NAMEM developed a dzud risk map using MODIS satellite data, among other resources, with 11 different parameters based on remote sensing data gathered from the satellite– this includes snow cover, drought index,on-ground observation data, precipitation forecast, air temperature forecast, and snow depth.

Every year, thousands of herders lose their animals because of dzud. In 2016, more than one million livestock died due to the extreme winter conditions in the country.

Featured image credit: FAO Emergencies


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