The humanitarian program that benefitted many

-Impact of “Livelihood support for children and rural herder families affected by sandstorms in Mongolia” project-

A strong sandstorm swept across Mongolia in March 2021 affecting 154 soums* in 16 provinces. The unprecedented violence of the dust storm caused extensive property damage and heavy stock losses for many herder households. 706 persons went missing in the storm and 10 of them died; 531 homes and 2,254 fences and barns collapsed; and more than 134 thousand head of livestock perished as reported by the National Emergency Management Agency. To support herder families affected by the sandstorms, help them recover from the storm damage and provide psychological first aid to children affected by the disaster, Save the Children implemented the livelihood support project in the most affected provinces of Mongolia, funded by Japan Platform (JPF), The project provided five-walled gers* for 69 herder households, hygiene kits for 300 herder households, and cash assistance for 310 herder families in Dundgovi, Gobi-Altai and Uvurkhangai provinces. Recipients of humanitarian assistance were selected using criteria such as homelessness, loss of animals and other property, whether there were children in the household, and low living standards.

Z.Khishigdorj, a herder from Burd soum, Uvurkhangai province who received a ger under the project, expressed his gratitude and said “We have three young children aged between 2-10 years. Last spring, our soum was hit by a strong sandstorm and many families lost their homes and livestock. I lost 150 small animals and 20 cattle in the sandstorm. The aftermath of the disaster continued afterwards as the pastures were covered with dirt and there was no grass to feed the animals. So many animals starved to death. I am very happy that I have a home now.’

B.Gannyam, a young herder from Dariv soum in Gobi-Altai province, came with his wife and daughter to get help from the soum, which is about 200 km from the provincial center.

Recalling the disaster, he said “I couldn’t see anything because of the dust and could only hear the noises coming from the animals. The storm continued non-stop for several hours. That night, I borrowed a small ger from our neighbours and assembled it after fixing its door and window – our neighbour previously kept lambs and kids in it. We then continued to live in it – it was cold in spring as the wind blows through it, and hot in summer because it is small and cramped. It has been very uncomfortable for the children. Thank you for providing us with this ger.’

The hygiene kits included toothpaste, soap, laundry powder, hygiene products and psychological first aid tips for children. Each kit was valued at US$50. A.Tumendemberel, a herder from Bayan-Undur soum, Uvurkhangai province who received a hygiene kit said, ‘I have two children aged 2 and 6 years. I received a hygiene kit containing quality items for daily regular use. It included products, such as detergents to use for 1-2 months. We also received disinfectants such as masks and hand sanitizer, which is very useful during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a great help and we are very grateful for it.’

A total of 310 herder households received cash assistance equivalent to US $100 per household. One of the cash recipients is S.Zorigtbaatar, a herder from Bayan-Undur soum, Uvurkhangai province. ‘My family has 7 members. One of my children has a disability. I am glad to receive financial assistance. This assistance coincided with the start of the children’s school year, so we provided two school-aged children with bags and school supplies and two children with shoes and shirts. I also bought a bag of flour at home. This was a very practical support in our lives.’

*Soum: a second-level administrative subdivision in Mongolia.

*Ger: portable round tent covered with skins or felt used by Mongolians as a dwelling

*Dzud: harsh winter conditions