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Humanitarian Aid to Mongolia During a Weather Crisis

For the past few years, Mongolia has experienced a detrimental cycle of harsh weather conditions that has been termed “dzud.” Winters are defined by temperatures at -40 degrees Celsius or below, and spring shortages of food and water lead to intense loss of livestock. To top matters off, droughts in the summer make everything from vegetation to livestock to families suffer.

Herders predict the loss of their livestock and quickly attempt to sell what they have in the market for profit. They do this in order to save up money for another expected rough winter. However, when many herders try to do the same thing at the same time, the market value of each animal decreases and farmers end up without enough money to survive.

USAID documents that on January 20, 2016, the government of Mongolia officially declared dzud conditions and announced that the country was in need of immediate assistance. Humanitarian aid to Mongolia was vital.

Fortunately, the response was rapid. With help from the Mongolian government, and the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) assessed the situation and determined which groups were most vulnerable.

The plan wasn’t designed to put a long-term solution into play that would save Mongolia’s economy, but rather provide the necessary tools and resources to prevent death among thousands during the brutal winter. Basically, CERF provided humanitarian aid to Mongolia in the form of multi-purpose cash assistance for people at risk that allowed them to purchase essentials. In total, the U.N. provided $2.4 million to Mongolia through CERF. These funds bought basic but necessary food items, reproductive health kits for women and food and care for livestock. As a result, approximately 19,076 people received assistance necessary to beat starvation and death.

Without this form of humanitarian aid to Mongolia, thousands could have died or lost loved ones. Aside from saving lives, CERF strengthened the ties between Mongolia and international agencies, both aid and governmental. When countries are in need of assistance, this example in Mongolia shows that the international community is capable of responding rapidly and effectively.

— Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr