Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dzud Emergency Relief

Thousands of herder families are still experiencing the slow-moving disaster of the Dzud disaster in Mongolia.  Many are weak, exhaussted and faced with insufficient food and fuel supplies.  They are rapidly losing their livelihood because of mounting losses of their livestock and newborn animals.  Reports indicate the worst is yet to come as millions of animals will die, mostly in the spring, because the livestock are already weak and there is no fodder left.  And because it will still be many weeks before temperatures will warm the ground enough for grass to grow for their livestock.

A report by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization states that now the only means of generating cash for most herder families is to bring the dead carcasses into their homes, warm them up, remove the skin and sell the skin for approximately 50 US cents each.  Many are moving their few remaining livestock into their gers with their families to keep them warm.

Deseret International Charities donated about $50,000 for food, medicine, matches, clothing, candles, fuel, and sanitary items to three of aimags (provinces) and to the Ministry Education to help fix heating systems of school/dormatories for the herders' children.  DIC has received back some detailed reports on how the assistance was administered, who received the assistance, and photographs showing the aid being delivered.  The following are photos of assistance are from reports sent in by Uuvs and Khovd  aimags (provinces).  DIC also received letters of gratitude from each province and a request for more assistance to help the herder families and their animals through the rest of the winter.  

Much of the world is already experiencing wonderful spring time, but spring and growing grass will not come to the people of Mongolia for at least another month or two.  Also there are some areas where there is no snow, but the people there are experiencing a "black dzud." There nothing is growing because of cold temperatures and the drought.  

The Mongolian government continues to appeal for donations for:  food, fuel, medicine, clothing, fodder for the animals, and other basic needs.  Deseret International Charities (sponsored by donations from members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints world wide) has received additional requests for assistance from seven aimags  (provinces) and has just requested another relief package to help the herders who are still in dire need.  Our office in Ulaanbaatar just sent this request off to the Asian Area Office, so we don't know yet how much will be approved, but if it is approved, it will be a sizable donation.

The effects of the Dzud continue. Many herders have lost all of their herds. It is expected that thousands of herder families will be forced to move to the city to survive and will come looking for work, but because most of them have no other skills and because there are not many jobs, it will bring some terrible challenges to Ulaanbaatar and the other cities. In Mongolia, about 37 percent of the population is below the poverty level. Some companies are starting to do a lot of mining here for coal, copper, silver, gold, etc., which over the long run, will bring a lot of money into the Mongolian economy and create a lot of jobs, but that will all take time.

Deseret International Charities requested and received another $150,000 in emergency relief aid from the Church/Emergency Relief Fund to help support the herder families. DIC signed agreements with the governors of seven provinces (like our states) and transferred the money to them to purchase and distribute basic food supplies, medicines, fuel, sanitation items and fodder for their animals. Many of the herders are destitute and near starvation because of the loss of their animals and thus their livelihood. Also, late winter-spring is the season for the young animals to be born, but their mothers aren't able to produce milk so part of the funds will be to provide a milk substitute for the mother's milk. This brings the total emergency relief donation to $200,000, which is a lot of money here in Mongolia.