Social Causes of Dzuds in Mongolia Since the 1990s
Ariunaa Chadraabal*,**,, Urjin Odkhuu***, Masato Shinoda**, and Yasuhiro Suzuki**
*National Emergency Management Agency
Partizan’s Street, Ulaanbaatar 14250, Mongolia
**Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan
***Defense Research Institute, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Locally known as dzuds, extreme winter weather events that are believed to arise from the interaction of hydrometeorological and climate drivers and socioeconomic forces have become increasingly frequent in Mongolia in the past few decades. As they cut off access to forage, these extreme events are associated with mass livestock deaths. Since the socioeconomic changes in the 1990s, and due to climate change, Mongolia has weathered major dzuds in 1999–2000, 2000–2001, 2001–2002, and 2009–2010. They wiped out about 4 million (11.6%), 5 million (18.5%), 3 million (12.3%), and 10 million (22%) heads of livestock, respectively. As a result, the country has been facing the challenge of examining these complex phenomena, finding ways to reduce their risk, and building resilience against them. This study adopts a systems approach to review key research and trace the occurrence of dzuds in Mongolia, understand why measures to reduce their risk have failed, and what can be done to fix this. Specifically, we focus on two dzud events that occurred 10 years apart in 1999–2000 and 2009–2010 and examine the effectiveness of social responses and countermeasures taken to tackle them. We find that a lack of accountability mechanisms and failure to treat dzud as a systemic issue have hindered efforts to reduce risk and minimize mortality. Our findings highlight the need for inclusive, integrated, and accountable handling of dzuds.
-  L. Natsagdorj and J. Dulamsuren, “Some aspects of assessment of the dzud phenomena,” Meteorol. Hydrol., Vol.23, No.3, pp. 3-18, 2001.
-  National Statistical Office (NSO), “Agriculture 2020,” 2021, https://1212.mn/BookLibraryDownload.ashx?url=Agriculture2020.pdf&ln=Mn (in Mongolian) [accessed on March 19, 2021]
-  M. Shinoda, “Evolving a multi-hazard focused approach for arid Eurasia,” T. Sternberg (Ed.), “Climate hazard crises in Asian societies and environments,” pp. 73-102, Routledge, 2017.
-  T. Sternberg, “Investigating the presumed causal links between drought and dzud in Mongolia,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.92, No.1, pp. 27-43, 2018.
-  United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), National Emergency Management Agency of Mongolia (NEMA), and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), “The 2009–2010 dzud winter disaster in Mongolia,” 2010.
-  L. Natsagdorj and P. Gomboluudev, “The Mongolian environment: Climate change, desertification and permafrost in Mongolia,” 279pp., 2017 (in Mongolian).
-  A. Hahn, “Complexity of Mongolian stakeholders’ dzud preparation and response,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.92, No.Suppl 1, pp. 127-143, 2018.
-  S. Begzsuren, J. E. Ellis, D. S. Ojima, M. B. Coughenour, and T. Chuluun, “Livestock responses to droughts and severe winter weather in the Gobi Three Beauty National Park, Mongolia,” J. Arid Environ., Vol.59, No.4, pp. 785-796, 2004.
-  T. Sternberg, N. Middleton, and D. Thomas, “Pressurised pastoralism in South Gobi, Mongolia: What is the role of drought?,” Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr., Vol.34, No.3, pp. 364-377, 2009.
-  K. Tachiiri, M. Shinoda, B. Klinkenberg, and Y. Morinaga, “Assessing Mongolian snow disaster risk using livestock and satellite data,” J. Arid Environ., Vol.72, No.12, pp. 2251-2263, 2008.
-  M. E. Fernández-Giménez, B. Batkhishig, and B. Batbuyan, “Cross-boundary and cross-level dynamics increase vulnerability to severe winter disasters (dzud) in Mongolia,” Glob. Environ. Change, Vol.22, No.4, pp. 836-851, 2012.
-  J. K. Clark and S. A. Crabtree, “Examining social adaptations in a volatile landscape in Northern Mongolia via the agent-based model Ger Grouper,” Land, Vol.4, No.1, pp. 157-181, 2015.
-  F. Joly, R. Sabatier, B. Hubert, and B. Munkhtuya, “Livestock productivity as indicator of vulnerability to climate hazards: A Mongolian case study,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.92, No.Suppl 1, pp. 95-107, 2018.
-  C. Gros et al., “The effectiveness of forecast-based humanitarian assistance in anticipation of extreme winters: A case study of vulnerable herders in Mongolia,” Disasters, Vol.46, No.1, pp. 95-118, 2022.
-  R. Basher and Y. Ono, “Memorialization tools for systematically expanding disaster risk reduction across space and time,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.17, No.4, pp. 526-531, 2022.
-  UNDP and Cabinet Secretariat of Government of Mongolia, “Lessons learnt from the dzud 1999–2000,” 2000.
-  M. E. Fernández-Giménez, B. Batkhishig, B. Batbuyan, and T. Ulambayar, “Lessons from the dzud: Community-based rangeland management increases the adaptive capacity of Mongolian herders to winter disasters,” World Dev., Vol.68, pp. 48-65, 2015.
-  T. Sternberg, “Unravelling Mongolia’s extreme winter disaster of 2010,” Nomadic Peoples, Vol.14, No.1, pp. 72-86, 2010.
-  B. Nandintsetseg, M. Shinoda, and B. Erdenetsetseg, “Contributions of multiple climate hazards and overgrazing to the 2009/2010 winter disaster in Mongolia,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.92, No.Suppl 1, pp. 109-126, 2018.
-  B. Nandintsetseg, M. Shinoda, C. Du, and E. Munkhjargal, “Cold-season disasters on the Eurasian steppes: Climate-driven or man-made,” Sci. Rep., Vol.8, Article No.14769, 2018.
-  G. K. C. Chen, “What is the systems approach?,” Interfaces, Vol.6, No.1, pp. 32-37, 1975.
-  S. P. Simonovic, “Systems approach to management of disasters – A missed opportunity?,” J. Integr. Disaster Risk Manag., Vol.5, No.2, pp. 70-81, 2015.
-  B. Godin, “National Innovation System: The system approach in historical perspective,” Sci. Technol. Hum. Values, Vol.34, No.4, pp. 476-501, 2009.
-  S. P. Simonovic, “Systems approach to management of disasters: Methods and applications,” John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2011.
-  E. Endicott, “A history of land use in Mongolia: The thirteenth century to the present,” Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
-  A. Ahearn, “Herders and hazards: Covariate dzud risk and the cost of risk management strategies in a Mongolian subdistrict,” Nat. Hazards, Vol.92, No.Suppl 1, pp. 165-181, 2018.
-  T. Purev, “Lifestyle change of rural and urban areas,” B. Dash-Yondon (Ed.), “Social changes of Mongolia,” pp. 183-205, Bembi San Press, 2013 (in Mongolian).
-  D. Sneath, “Land use, the environment and development in post-socialist Mongolia,” Oxf. Dev. Stud., Vol.31, No.4, pp. 441-459, 2003.
-  A. Ahearn, “A condensed history of the public administration of pastoralism in Mongolia,” Nomadic Peoples, Vol.22, No.2, pp. 282-303, 2018.
-  National Statistical Office (NSO), “Livestock sector statistics in 2008,” 2009, https://1212.mn/BookLibraryDownload.ashx?url=livestock2008.pdf&ln=Mn (in Mongolian) [accessed on November 21, 2019]
-  NSO, “Livestock husbandry,” https://www.1212.mn/stat.aspx?LIST_ID=976_L10_1 (in Mongolian) [accessed on March 19, 2021]
-  M. P. Rao et al., “Dzuds, droughts, and livestock mortality in Mongolia,” Environ. Res. Lett., Vol.10, Article No.074012, 2015.
-  J. Swift and S. Baas, “Managing pastoral risk in mongolia – A plan of action,” Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), 64pp., 2003.
-  Government of Mongolia and UN Country Team in Mongolia, “Launch of the humanitarian country team in Mongolia,” 2011, https://reliefweb.int/report/mongolia/launch-humanitarian-country-team-mongolia [accessed on March 14, 2022]
-  A. Chadraabal, M. Shinoda, Y. Suzuki, and H. Komiyama, “Mitigation of severe wintertime disasters in northern Mongolia through the early implementation of local action,” Int. J. Disaster Risk Reduct., Vol.50, Article No.101739, 2020.
This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internationa License.