During a poor summer harvest, the country’s 800,000 herders have insufficient fodder to feed their animals through the bitter winter that follows. In 1999 and 2001, the dzud depleted 30 per cent of the country’s livestock. Again, in the dzud of 2009-2010, 11 million – 25 per cent - of Mongolia’s livestock perished within six months.
Poverty has been estimated to affect 47 per cent of rural populations in Mongolia. Due to climatic hardships and economic losses, it was estimated that by October 2010, 1400 herding families had been forced to relocate to the city. Livestock herding is a traditional livelihood strategy which has been vital to the Mongolian population for centuries, and urbanisation of herding families places this culture at risk, increasing pressures on the rapidly growing city of Ulaanbaatar.
In 2015 SPANA is funding the building of 13 wells in Mongolia, 10 on the southern desert fringe and three in the western desert. Each of these wells will support between 800 and 2000 animals.
This will not only benefit thirsty animals, but also local herders who rely on their animals, and may be used to help overcome Mongolia’s long, extreme winter period while pastures regenerate.