Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Month: November, 2008

Mongolia: "One of the most disaster-prone areas in the world"

Some interesting and disturbing facts from ReliefWeb:

Mongolia “experiences a spectrum of disasters ranging from heavy snowfalls in winter, strong winds and dust storms, drought, earthquakes, and animal and human epidemic infectious diseases. The three largest cities in Mongolia are located in magnitude 7 to 8 seismic active areas.”

Earthquakes are one of the most devastating forms of natural disasters, and in Mongolia, 80 percent of the total land area and 70 percent of urban areas are located in earthquake-prone regions. Ulaanbaatar accommodates more than half of its total population and produces around 60 percent of local products. However, the city is located in a very active seismic zone and, coupled with older infrastructure, building standards are doubtful to withstand earthquakes of above magnitude 5 on the Richter scale.

Mongolia ranks 114 out of 177 on the human development index. Surveys show that 36.1% live below the national poverty line, and 18.9% live on less than one dollar a day.

Avian flu occurred in 41 subprovinces, killing 679 wild birds.

Prices for basic food items such as wheat and rice rose more than 100% in the first few months of this year.

Mongolia spent about 7% of GDP on social assistance programs.

In the past 3-5 years, (1) 57 storm winds have caused nearly a million dollars in damage and killing 300,000 head of livestock, (2) 28 people have died in floods, (3) 358 forest fires have killed 3 people, and (4) at least 15 earthquakes were recorded.

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Rivers and Lakes Drying Up in Mongolia

A new survey shows that the rivers and lakes in Mongolia are drying up.

The survey, conducted by the Water Authority and the State Professional Control Agency, revealed that over 1,200 rivers have dried up in Mongolia. Four years ago, more than 5,100 rivers were counted while today there were fewer than 3,900.

Government officials also said 2,600 lakes are now dry, out of a total of 3,700, while 23,000 of the country’s 93,700 springs are dry. Further, of the more than 400 mineral waters, 110 have disappeared.

Apparently, part of the blame lies with water-intensive industries such as leather tanning and gold mining. In a country that only receives 7-9 inches of precipitation annually and that is hundreds of miles from the ocean, water needs to be more carefully managed.

Results of last year’s harvest

Mongolia had a larger-than-expected harvest this fall. Mongolia Web News reports that

about 205,821 tons of cereals, 142,124 tons of potatoes and 80,627 tons of vegetables were harvested this year.

Also, Mongolian farmers brought in 1008.8 thousand tons of hay, 25.9 thousand tons of hand-made fodder and 950.2 tons of silage crops.

Compared with the same period in 2007, the harvest of cereals, potatoes, hay and silage crops increased 85.3 thousand tons or 74.4 percent, 18.5 thousand tons or 16.2 percent, 116.0 thousand tons or 13.0 percent, and 796.1 tons or 6.2 times more, respectively.

Hopefully, this will help to make Mongolia more self-sufficient in the coming year and less subject to food price inflation.

Largest Economic Sector in Mongolia

According to Mongol Bank, Mongolia’s largest economic sector is foreign remittances. $195 million enter the country annually from the 430,000 Mongolians working abroad (only 130,000 are officially counted). This means that 1 in 15 Mongolians is working overseas. (Source)