Mongolian herders move to cities as snowstorms kill livestock

10:50, January 31, 2010      

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Photo taken on Jan. 27, 2010 shows hungry sheep in Adaatsag county of Dundgovi (Central Gobi) Province, Mongolia. Mongolia is currently experiencing an extreme cold weather and heavy snow in the southern province of Dundgobi, which has caused much trouble for the life of herders. The cold snap and heavy snow have killed more than one million livestock, the herders' main source of income, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Due to the plunge of temperatures from late 2009, 90 percent of Mongolia's territory is covered by snow. The herders' lives are facing difficulties because of the lack of fuel. (Xinhua/Ahsgan)


Snowstorms battering Mongolia since late 2009 have devastated livestock numbers, forcing herders to migrate to urban areas in search of work.

The cold snap and heavy snow have killed more than one million livestock, the herders' main source of income, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The bad weather also has reduced food security, intensified poverty and increased domestic rural-urban migration of many families.

Central Dundgobi province is one of those in the grip of a dzud, or natural disaster, and its herders are feeling the effects.

"Every morning five to 10 animals are dying," said Javzmaa Batbold, a herder in Adaatsag county, Dundgobi province. "Out of 500 livestock, about 120 have died due to the extreme cold weather and shortage of food."

"I don't know what future is waiting for our family if all our livestock die," said Batbold, a father of two children. "We are doing our best to save our animals, which are the only source of livelihood. Continuous snow blizzards are killing our livestock."


A herder stands in front of her yurt in Adaatsag county of Dundgovi (Central Gobi) Province, Mongolia, Jan. 27, 2010. (Xinhua/Ahsgan)


His ger (a traditional Mongolian dwelling) was completely covered with snow, with only the door side cleared to reveal a dwelling lay underneath.

Due to the plunge of temperatures from late 2009, 80 percent of Mongolia's territory is covered by snow, with depths of 20-90 centimeters.

The State Emergency Commission has issued an appeal to Mongolian citizens, state and non-governmental organizations and the private sector to launch a campaign to offer aid to herders.

The Mongolian government has also called for the international community to donate food, medicines and equipment as well as funds to help herders.


Some bodies of sheep are seen on the ground in a county of Dundgovi (Central Gobi) Province, Mongolia, Jan. 28, 2010. (Xinhua/Ahsgan)


Source: Xinhua
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