nomads are in trouble
look at the solidarity and celebration of the gathering of the herders+ nomads
Jonathan Watts, from the guardian.co.uk. Thursday 25 February 2010.
The United Nations has launched a $4m dollar carcass-clearing appeal for Mongolia as millions of camels, goats, yaks and horses perish across the steppe from a climate double whammy of summer drought and winter snow.
The international body will pay nomads to collect and bury dead livestock to ease the risks of disease, soil contamination and a worsening humanitarian disaster in a nation where one-third of the 2.7m population depends on animal husbandry.
The government has declared an emergency and appealed for foreign aid to alleviate the impact of the zud — the Mongolian term for a multiple natural disaster caused by the parching of pastures in the summer followed by bitter cold and thick snow that blankets the land in winter.
At least 11 people, including nine children, have starved or frozen to death, and tens of thousands more are threatened by malnourishment and destitution because of the loss of livestock.
As of this week, 1.5m goats, 921,000 sheep, 169,000 cows and yaks, 89,000 horses and 1,500 camels had died. The authorities say another 3m animals are likely to starve before the thaw in June, which would reduce the national livestock head-count by more than 10%.
"You can imagine how serious the situation is," Batbold Dorjgurhem, director of international cooperation at the ministry of nature, environment and tourism told the Guardian. "Nineteen out of Mongolia's 21 provinces have been hit by heavy winter snow. Apart from the loss of livestock, we expect ecological damage. The government needs a budget to clear the carcasses."
The UN Development Programme, which usually helps in disaster relief operations such as tsunamis, earthquakes and others by paying locals to clear rubble, has adapted its strategy to deal with the dead animals. As an initial step, it has allocated $300,000 and will raise more fund to pay herders $4 a day to clean and bury carcasses. Eventually, it hopes to reach 60,000 of the worst affected families.
"While immediate needs of food, shelter, heating and health care must be met, this approach would prevent the spread of diseases and also help herders to feed their families during the zud," said Akbar Usmani, UNDP resident representative in Mongolia. "Livestock is the cornerstone of existence for so many Mongolians and many people have lost all their direct income and food source."
Earlier this month, the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) warned that heating systems were failing and food supplies were running low in more than 200 school dormitories and children could not return home because of the dangerous travel conditions.
It is sending relief convoys to some of the worst affected areas to deliver food, fuel, blankets, hygiene kits and boots.
"This is an unfolding emergency, said Rana Flowers, the Unicef representative in Mongolia, said earlier this month. "Of most recent and most urgent concern is evidence that babies and young children are dying because they cannot access the medical treatment from trained personnel that they need."
During previous zuds, nomads sought refuge in Mongolia's capital Ulan Bator, which has struggled to cope with the influx. The fringes of the capital are ringed by shanty towns of yurts with poor sanitation, inadequate water supplies and poor heating.
Mongolia is used to extreme weather. The capital, which regularly experiences temperatures of -40C , is one of the coldest capitals on earth. But a changing climate and over-grazing of the grasslands have made the traditional herding lifestyle harder than ever.
Zuds normally occur every five to 10 years, but there have been four in the past decade and more are expected. According to the government, Mongolia has warmed by 2.14C over the last 70 years, but annual temperatures during winter have fallen since 1990.
The International Panel on Climate Change predicts Mongolia will experience rising temperatures and increased precipitation.
Human activity is also a big factor. The government and World Bank are reviewing policies that have led to grasslands degradation from an explosion of mining and cashmere goat grazing.
Read the full article HERE