MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director Robert Schoellhammer and the Minister of Finance of Mongolia Bolor Bayarbaatar today signed a $2 million grant agreement as part of a United Nations-led emergency response for herders and their families afflicted by a protracted climate disaster in Mongolia, known as a “dzud.”
“A livelihood and food crisis has been evolving in many parts of the country due to the dzud, under which an unusually dry summer is followed by a heavy winter snow and plummeting temperatures,” said Robert Schoellhammer, ADB Country Director in Mongolia. “Millions of animals that are unable to graze properly face starvation, jeopardizing the livelihoods and even lives of the herders who depend on them for income and food.”
According to the National Emergency Management Authority, snow this winter covered 90% of Mongolia’s total territory. The government said that at the end of March, about one third of Mongolia’s 339 districts were still in severe dzud or near-dzud conditions.
The number of animals that died as a result of the heavy snow and cold weather reached 669,000 by the end of March, the government said. The UN feared the number of dead animals could reach 1.2 million during the spring, when—on past experience—weak and starved animals could die in large numbers. From 1999, Mongolia was hit by dzuds for 3 years in a row, resulting in a reported loss of 11 million animals. This year, herders are culling their livestock, rather than letting them die of starvation, leading to an oversupply of meat and skins on the market and sending prices plummeting.
The UN estimates that more than 225,000 people or 41% of the total herder population are now feeling the impact of adverse weather conditions, including more than 28,000 children under the age of 5. It has indicated that $14.3 million is required for immediate assistance for the most vulnerable herder households.
Under these circumstances, the government requested the grant assistance from ADB’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, which was established in 2009 to provide resources to developing member countries for the restoration of life-preserving services to communities affected by a natural disaster.
ADB’s grant complements some $2.4 million being provided by the UN and will help address the most urgent needs of the vulnerable and affected populations, including food, hay, forage, medical supplies, and fuel.
In Mongolia, ADB approvals amounted to $297.5 million in 2015, including 4 sovereign loans for $275 million, 2 project grants for 6 million, and 17 technical assistance grants for $16.5 million.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.