Mongolia’s harshest winter in 50 years – five million animals dead

Mongolia is going through the harshest winter in almost 50 years where the extreme conditions have killed just over five million animals, a figure expected to rise.
Livestock deaths affect thousands of families and their livelihoods.
– They have become impoverished in just a few months, says Alexander Matheou of the Red Cross to CNN.

Since November, at least 2,250 families in Mongolia have lost more than 70 percent of their livestock. Since a large part of the country’s population lives as nomads and makes a living from these animals, they are essential for their survival. Now over 7,000 families lack enough food.

– Some of them can no longer support themselves with food or heat for their homes, says Alexander Matheou, regional director of the Red Cross Asia-Pacific region to CNN.

Increased preparedness

The extreme weather affects three-quarters of Mongolia’s surface and since February the state has increased its preparedness, which is planned to remain until May 15.

– Now it is spring, but winter continues in Mongolia, there is still snow on the ground, and the cattle are still dying, Matheou continues.

The numbers are expected to rise

Red Cross international organization writes that according to the emergency management, the situation could be worse than it was in 2010, when the country was in similar circumstances. Around ten million livestock died that year and a good third of the population was affected.

– We have made a lot of preparations, but the scale of it still surprised us, Mathou told CNN.

The reason behind

This winter’s conditions are not unusual for Mongolia. The weather occurs when the summer drought is followed by heavy snowfall and extreme cold, the phenomenon is called dzud.

The reason for the return of extreme weather is that Mongolia is a country heavily affected by the climate crisis. According to a United Nations report the severity and occurrence of natural disasters in the country has doubled. In the last ten years, they have been involved in six dzuds.