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Lessons from the Dzud: Adaptation and Resilience in Mongolian Pastoral Social-Ecological Systems

 

Social Resilience & Climate Change
Lessons from the Dzud
Adaptation and Resilience in Mongolian Pastoral Social-Ecological Systems
  • Dzud is the Mongolian term for a severe winter weather disaster that places livestock and pastoral livelihoods at risk.
  • In the severe dzud of 2010, around 20% of Mongolia's livestock perished, affecting the livelihoods of over a quarter of the country's human population.
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Published: August 2012

Abstract

Dzud is the Mongolian term for a severe winter weather disaster that places livestock and pastoral livelihoods (the mainstay of the rural economy) at risk. In the severe dzud of 2010, around 20% of Mongolia's livestock perished, affecting the livelihoods of over a quarter of the country's human population. The World Bank's Social Development Department and East Asia Region jointly sponsored a two-year study, funded by TFESSD, to learn lessons from this dzud that would inform and help strengthen ongoing efforts to build social resilience to climate risk. Human vulnerability was found to be influenced by factors both within and between communities. Communities that were well prepared for dzud at the household level suffered disproportionate losses where their exposure was increased by in-migrating livestock from other districts. Relief aid that prevented loss of life, suffering and impoverishment in the short term may have contributed to a longer-term dependency syndrome, social disparities, and lack of initiative on the part of both herders and local governments. The study findings have important implications for the design of resilience-building strategies including community-based pasture land management. Such measures have been promoted through the World Bank-supported Sustainable Livelihoods Program (a 3-phase APL) that was formulated following the last major series of dzud events over 1999-2002, among other government and donor-supported initiatives. The study findings and recommendations are helping to inform the design of SLP3 that is currently under preparation.


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