During the 2009-2010 dzud 8576 herder households lost all of their  animals and 32756  herder households lost  half of their animals.  After the dzud about 1400 herders who were deprived of their livelihood source migrated to urban areas. As a consequence of the dzud 8,143,300  animals died and only 36.9% of off springs  survived. This severely hit the lives of herders. During that difficult winter season, the Swiss government rendered a grant of 500,000 francs for implementation of the dzud relief and prevention project. The project  which has been implemented by “Green Gold” Pasture Ecosystem Management Programme Unit  captured the most dzud affected sums or Ih Tamir soum in Arkhangai aimag, Bulgan soum in Bayan-Ulgii aimag, Altai and Biger soums in Govi-Altai aimag and 17 soums in Zavkhan aimag.

Instead of conventional approach of direct delivery of in-kind grants, the project  delivered  the  relief assistance to herders from  Pasture User Groups (PAGs) after they discussed and made decision together as to what measures to be taken. A task force consisting of local administration staff and bag governors and led by head of the soum pasture user unions were  established in a total of 21 soums. Cash for PUGs were allocated on the basis of recommendations in the project implementation manual. The project undertook two phases of implementation:
  1. Humanitarian relief and assistance,
  2. Support to herders’ collective efforts for preparedness of next winter.
Of the total project fund, 50 percent were spent on humanitarian relief and assistance and the remaining 50 percent went to implementation of the herders’ collective activities for preparedness of next winter. The project successfully completed its activities by December 30.  
Out of 235,529,000 tugriks spent on humanitarian relief and assistance covering 9174 households from 21 soums,  93%  or 218,946,000 tugriks were  given in cash to households and 4%  or 9,433,000 tugriks were spent to purchase flour, vegetable oil and medicaments for 306 households on the basis of decisions taken by pasture user groups in Tsetsen Uul in Zavkhan aimag and Biger soum in Govi-Altai aimag.  Humanitarian relief and assistance targeted ,  first of all, very poor and vulnerable people. Among herder households who benefited from humanitarian relief and assistance, 16% were households with single male or female head (534 single male and 954 single female headed households).

The commitment and accountability of task force members and herders from PUGs had much role in  targeting  and delivery of humanitarian relief and assistance  to the right  beneficiaries. Active participation of herders in PUG meetings enabled to make the distribution of relief and assistance fair and equitable.
The implementation of this relief and assistance project  has not only provided direct support to herders but also laid ground for herders of PUGs to engage in collective discussions and decision making and improve their institutionalization. Furthermore, the project paved a road to closer cooperation between soum and local administration and soum pasture user union NGO.

Soum governors and administration staff participated in the meetings of PUGs and heard herders’ views and suggestions. They collaborated with the project in removal of animal carcasses and welcomed the approach and method of relief and assistance distribution.
Last year dzud taught a strong lesson for herders. They looked back how they were prepared for the winter,  what skills they had  for herding , how well they managed pasture lands and what quality their animals was. The Dzud relief and prevention project enabled herders to start preparing for next winters taking the lessons of the previous winter.  Herders from PUGs discussed at the meetings on preparedness for next winter and produced action plans. The project fund was allocated to carry out the following activities: