MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Isolated nomadic herder families in Mongolia who are struggling to survive amidst an unfolding natural disaster are to receive support from the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund.
A grant of $2.5 million from the Fund to the Government of Mongolia will help deliver food, fuel, and health and social services to herders battling heavy snow and abnormally low temperatures that have affected the country since last December. The brutal winter conditions follow a severe summer drought and shortage of animal fodder, resulting in a local natural disaster known as a dzud.
"ADB is committed to helping herder families affected by the dzud through this very difficult time," said ADB President Haruhiko Kuroda.
The government has declared a state of disaster in 15 of the country's 21 provinces, with over 420,000 people - or a quarter of the rural population - affected by the severe conditions. Nomadic herder families, including pregnant women, have exhausted their food and cooking fuel, and in many cases have lost most of their livestock - the main source of livelihood for up to a third of the country's population. Forced to fend for themselves, families have also been unable to access medical care and other social support services.
Livestock deaths reached 5 million by the end of March, and along with the potential for increased herder poverty, unemployment, and mass urban migration as a result, the large number of carcasses pose an infectious diseases threat as temperatures rise and the snow thaws. Part of ADB's assistance will also be used to remove dead animals in order to contain any risk of disease, and to avoid soil contamination.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Mongolia is overseeing disaster relief with assistance already extended from international nongovernmental organizations and development organizations. Bilateral emergency relief is being provided by countries such as People's Republic of China, Russia and Turkey.
The Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, established in 2009, provides quick disbursing grants to developing member countries affected by natural calamities. It is designed to help countries meet their immediate expenses, and helps bridge the gap between ADB financing facilities that reduce disaster risks, and those that provide longer term post-disaster reconstruction assistance.