For centuries, many people in the central Asian country of Mongolia lived as nomadic herders. They moved their animals regularly to get the best of the summer grass.
Migration to cities can leave people vulnerable
More recently, this traditional lifestyle has started to change. Thousands of families have lost their animals during the winter and moved to cities in search of new work.
Many have settled in the outskirts of the capital city Ulaanbaatar, the world’s coldest capital, and other urban areas. Now, they do industrial or casual work and often live in traditional tents known as gers that are heated by stoves.
Unfortunately, older people, those with disabilities and other vulnerable individuals can find themselves separated from traditional support systems and become isolated. For over a decade, the Red Cross has supported them to get enough food, carry out personal tasks, arrange medical visits and access state benefits.
Extreme weather brings extreme challenges
During the winter of 2015/2016, Mongolia is experiencing a dzud. This extreme weather event is marked by hot dry summers and extremely cold snowy winters. Herders may lose their animals to hunger or be unable to travel through the snow to buy food for their livestock or themselves. The homes of city dwellers and herders alike may be susceptible to the cold.
This could lead to food shortages and disease, and families who lose their livestock may no longer be able to make a living. The British Red Cross’ partner the Mongolian Red Cross Society is helping many of these vulnerable people.