On October 28th, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Mongolia signed a three million USD grant to support community-based approaches to disaster risk management in parts of Dornod, Gobi-Altai, Khuvsgul and Sukbaatar provinces to increase herders’ resilience to dzuds, fires, and other disasters.
The grant is funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), which has implemented projects in the country for the last 16 years dealing with poverty alleviation, community development, livelihoods, and the environment.
Vice Minister of Finance Kh.Bulgantuya signed on behalf of the government, while ADB Country Director Yolanda Fernandez Lommen signed on behalf of ADB. First Secretary Hiroshi Fukasawa from the Embassy of Japan to Mongolia was in attendance. The Chief of the National Emergency Management Agency, the executing agency for the project, Brigadier General Badral, also participated in the event.
“The Strengthening Community Resilience to Dzud and Forest and Steppe Fires Project is the first in Mongolia to introduce a bottom-up institutionalized approach for involving rural communities in disaster risk management – an undertaking that will help strengthen the capacity of herders and local disaster risk management administrations to manage risks of dzud and forest and steppe fires in some of the more vulnerable and poor areas of Mongolia,” said Fernandez. “The broad scope of this project reflects the work of the government and ADB to target key regions, sectors, and beneficiaries for poverty alleviation, livelihoods, and the environment.”
As reported by the ADB, dzuds and forest and steppe fires are among the most damaging natural hazards in Mongolia. Recurring dzuds and droughts over the last decade have affected much of the rural population. The 2009-2010 dzud, for example, resulted in losses of 25 percent of Mongolia’s total livestock, damaging the livelihoods of 97,000 herder households. According to the UN, over 41 percent of Mongolia’s herder population was affected and 1.1 million livestock perished in the 2015-2016 dzud. Fires also threaten herders and ecosystems, claiming the lives of poorly equipped firefighters, community members and livestock. Forest fires contribute to an estimated loss of 60,000 hectares of forest per annum.
The ADB emphasized that the project responds to the Mongolian government’s need to shift toward a more holistic approach emphasizing disaster risk reduction and community engagement, as well as emergency response.
The project is expected to directly benefit 7,000 herders and soum center residents in 2,500 households, including 250 female-headed households; and indirectly benefit the wider community in target soums, with a total population of 32,000. The ADB highlighted that they hope the project can be replicated and implemented in other parts of the country.
ADB approvals for Mongolia amounted to 297.5 million USD in 2015, including four sovereign loans for 275 million USD, two project grants for six million USD, and 17 technical assistance grants for 16.5 million USD.