Mongolian Herders Adapting to the Consequences of Climate Change

Video | 15 July 2013

Herders in the Mongolian steppes are learning climate-change resilient agricultural techniques and developing alternative livelihood options in order to reduce their reliance on herding, which is susceptive to the changing weather.

Transcript

Title: Mongolian Herders Adapting to the Consequences of Climate Change

Description: Herders in the Mongolian steppes are learning climate-change resilient agricultural techniques and developing alternative livelihood options in order to reduce their reliance on herding, which is susceptive to the changing weather.

VO: Mongolia, a country of vast plains, home to proud nomadic herders. One third of the country’s population still lives a pastoral existence that has changed little from the times of Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan. These herders rely mainly on raising livestock for their food and income.

But the recent onslaught of extreme cold during past winters struck a deadly blow to the herders’ livelihood.

In 2009 and 2010, the country suffered one of the worst disasters in its history, when around 8.5 million livestock died – wiping out approximately 20 percent of Mongolia’s livestock population.

SOT: Robert Schoellhammer
Mongolia Country Director
Asian Development Bank
In Mongolia, there’s a phenomenon that we call the “dzud” where you have a drought in the summer and an extremely cold winter. There’s no food for the animals so they die in mid-winter. Without the animals, the owners, the herders have no way to feed themselves, they literally lose their livelihood.

VO: Experts say there’s a possibility that such weather disturbances will occur more frequently in the future as a consequence of climate change.

SOT: Robert Schoellhammer
Mongolia Country Director
Asian Development Bank
There is a very close link there with climate change and with the degradation of the environment.

VO: The Asian Development Bank is helping herders combat the consequences of climate change.

Through an ADB project, herders are trained to cultivate fodder or animal feed that is more resilient to extreme weather changes, using plants that adapt to droughts.

In Khentii province, in the eastern part of the country, herders also learned how to move their cattle around more often so that the animals do not exploit water resources in just one area.

Meanwhile, ADB also assisted herders in Ovorkhangai province in the south develop alternative sources of income.

These herders now also bake and sell bread, cakes and pastries.

SOT: D. Osorjaama
Herder
We started this baking business because there was a demand from the nearby secondary school.

VO: As part of the assistance, 68 herder groups established various income-generating activities in order to reduce their reliance on herding, which is susceptive to adverse climates. Profits from the activities went to a revolving fund that lends money to other members of the herder groups.

The project also provided herding groups with fencing materials for pasture land and wells to feed livestock and herder households. With climate change a hostile reality in Mongolia’s steppes, these herders are now better-equipped and prepared to face the harsh winters ahead of them.