Grant Signed To Improve Disaster Resilience for Herders in Mongolia

News Release | 28 October 2016

ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Mongolia today signed a $3 million grant to pilot community-based approaches to disaster risk management in parts of Dornod, Gobi-Altai, Khuvsgul and Sukbaatar aimags to increase herders’ resilience to dzuds, fires, and other disasters. 

The grant is funded by the Japanese government-financed Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), which over the past 16 years has supported projects in Mongolia dealing with poverty alleviation, community development, livelihoods, and the environment. 

Signing the agreement on behalf of the Government of Mongolia was Vice Minister of Finance Kh. Bulgantuya while ADB Country Director Yolanda Fernandez Lommen signed on behalf of ADB. First Secretary Hiroshi Fukasawa from the Embassy of Japan to Mongolia witnessed the event. The Chief of the National Emergency Management Agency, the executing agency for the project, Brigadier General Badral, also participated in the event.

“The Strengthening Community Resilience to Dzud and Forest and Steppe Fires Project is the first in Mongolia to introduce a bottom-up institutionalized approach for involving rural communities in disaster risk management – an undertaking that will help strengthen the capacity of herders and local disaster risk management administrations to manage risks of dzud and forest and steppe fires in some of the more vulnerable and poor areas of Mongolia,” said Ms. Fernandez. “The broad scope of this project reflects the work of the government and ADB to target key regions, sectors and beneficiaries for poverty alleviation, livelihoods, and the environment.” 

An extreme climate and nomadic herding lifestyle means Mongolia faces high risk of loss of livelihood and damage to the ecosystem and environment from disasters. Dzuds and forest and steppe fires are among the most damaging natural hazards in Mongolia. Recurring dzuds and droughts over the last decade have affected much of the rural population. The 2009‒2010 dzud, for example, resulted in losses of 25% of Mongolia’s total livestock, damaging the livelihoods of 97,000 herder households. According to the UN, over 41% of Mongolia’s herder population was affected and 1.1 million livestock perished in the 2015-2016 dzud.

Fires also threaten herders and ecosystems, claiming the lives of poorly equipped firefighters, community members and livestock. Forest fires contribute to an estimated loss of 60,000 hectares of forest per annum. Steppe fires spread even quicker and wider, causing significant losses of pastureland, livestock, gers and other assets. Climate change may result in more intense and extreme weather events, increasing fire activity and decreasing the quality of fragile ecosystems and potentially resulting in more loss of life and assets.

The project responds to the Mongolian government’s need to shift towards a more holistic approach emphasizing disaster risk reduction and community engagement, as well as emergency response. 

The project is expected to directly benefit 7,000 herders and soum center residents in 2,500 households, including 250 female-headed households; and indirectly benefit the wider community in target soums, with a total population of 32,000. The goal is that these pilot projects are sustainable but can be replicated and scaled up elsewhere in the country.

Established in May 2000, JFPR provides direct grant assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable groups in developing member countries of ADB while fostering long-term social and economic development.  

ADB approvals for Mongolia 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, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.