IFRC launches an appeal as Mongolia faces its harshest winter in 50 years

A herder man taking his cattle, goats, and horses through deep snow in Mongolia.

A herder man taking his cattle, goats, and horses through deep snow in Mongolia.

Photo: Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS)

Geneva/Kuala Lumpur/Ulaanbaatar, 18 March 2024: Mongolia is enduring its most severe winter in nearly half a century, grappling with the devastating effects of Dzud. Since November last year, extreme weather has now enveloped 76% of the nation in White Dzud and Iron Dzud conditions. These conditions cover grazing areas with deep snow and ice, critically limiting access to food for livestock.

However, since February this year, the livestock mortality rate has surged, affecting about 75 percent of all herder households. With the current toll of lost livestock exceeding 4.7 million, official forecasts predict the situation to worsen.

The livelihoods of herders, who depend on cattle, goats, and horses, are under severe threat. According to the assessment by the Emergency Operation Centre, this crisis is to be twice as severe as last year's Dzud. It predicts an impact greater than the significant 2010 Dzud event, which resulted in the loss of 10.3 million livestock and affected 28% of Mongolia's population. The crisis disproportionately affects herders with smaller herds, who face significant recovery challenges.

Over 7,000 families now lack adequate food, and heavy snowfall has buried more than 1,000 herder households' gers (traditional homes) and shelters. To date, 2,257 herder families have lost over 70% of their livestock, with thousands more needing basic health services, fuel, and coal.

Bolormaa Nordov, Secretary General of the Mongolian Red Cross Society (MRCS), said:

“As one of the most active humanitarian actors in the country, the Mongolian Red Cross Society is working tirelessly to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected people together with partners in this difficult time. We are grateful that the IFRC has always been with us, supporting our humanitarian efforts through the years. With this Emergency Appeal, we hope to minimize the impact of the Dzud emergency and support households with longer-term solutions for their lives and livelihoods.”

Since November 2023, the MRCS has led response efforts, identifying urgent needs, such as food scarcity, healthcare access, and livelihood destruction. In addition, MRCS has allocated distributed vital supplies such as warm animal blankets, benefiting 5,100 herder families in urgent need.

Olga Dzhumaeva, Head of the IFRC East Asia Delegation remarked:

“We stand witness to the numerous struggles many herder households face from the loss of their precious livestock to the burdens of financial hardship, limited resources as well as immense pressures on people’s mental and physical health. Yet we see the unwavering hope and resilience of so many families as they battle winter's wrath with incredible strength. The ongoing livestock deaths, diminishing resources and deteriorating conditions of hundreds of thousands of people in Mongolia this winter is a stark reminder of the urgent need for assistance.”

To support the people of Mongolia, the IFRC's Emergency Appeal seeks 4.5 million Swiss Francs to reach up to 10,000 Dzud-affected herder families with cash assistance, livelihood protection, health and psychosocial support, vocational training and community engagement.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: [email protected] 

In Beijing: 
Kexuan Tong: +86 13147812269 

In Kuala Lumpur: 
Afrhill Rances: +60 192713641

In Geneva: 
Tommaso Della Longa: +41 797084367  
Mrinalini Santhanam: +41 763815006 

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