Natural Hazard Risk
Mongolia is vulnerable to a wide variety of natural hazards, including floods, droughts, earthquakes, storms, and other extreme weather events. Additionally, Mongolia experiences dzuds, which occur when extreme winter conditions, particularity heavy snow cover, prevent livestock from accessing pasture or receiving adequate hay and fodder, who have already been weakened by summer drought. In 2010, Mongolia was hit by a severe “dzud,” in which nearly 25% (9.7 million) of the country’s livestock died. Flooding has can cause severe impact, and more than 200,000 people and over 100 schools are located in medium-to-high flood hazard areas in Ulaanbaatar City alone.
Unplanned urban development further increases the country’s vulnerability. About 60% of Ulaanbaatar’s residents live in informal settlements not covered by the city’s development planning or investments. These areas are often situated in flood pathways where protection infrastructure is inadequate. Mongolia has also experienced several earthquakes, which pose a risk due to the aging infrastructure of the capital city.
In the future, Mongolia is likely to be adversely impacted by climate change due to increased air temperature, increased precipitation, and a reduction in water resources and arable land. Moreover, the melting of the permafrost, which covers more than 60% of the country, is expected to have adverse impacts on agriculture, water resource management and infrastructure.
Over the last decade, the Government of Mongolia has made important advances in building resilience to disasters. In response to successive drought and dzud events from 1999-2002, the government adopted a national law on disaster risk management (DRM) in 2003 and established a new agency responsible for disaster management. The dzud has triggered momentum for building resilience through the improvement of pasture and livestock management and risk preparedness, and the government has also established an insurance program offers affordable and cost-effective coverage to herders, with World Bank support. In 2015, Ulaanbaatar City adopted a Flood Risk Management Strategy, developed with GFDRR and World Bank support. This strategy supports efforts to protect river basins, promote resilient urban development, and improve flood infrastructure, among its goals.
To further advance the DRM agenda, the government’s priorities include:
- Integrating disaster and climate risk into development planning;
- Developing a financing platform for DRM investments;
- Promoting community-based DRM; and,
- Establishing risk-financing mechanisms to mitigate the impact of natural hazards.
Since 2014, GFDRR support has focused on enhancing the Government of Mongolia’s capacity to mitigate and manage the impacts of natural disasters. Activities have focused on enhancing Mongolia’s capacity to strengthen infrastructure resilience, including of schools, emergency preparedness, and risk financing programs. With GFDRR support, Mongolia is conducting a broad review of the country's DRM law and building capacity on risk identification and reduction. Activities are also strengthening coordination capability of the National Emergency Management Agency, including through knowledge exchange with Indonesia’s Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) to learn about their experience in moving to a comprehensive government-wide DRM framework after the 2004 tsunami.
Additionally, GFDRR support is helping strengthen disaster resilience at the municipal and rural level. Based on a rigorous flood risk assessment and in-depth consultations with communities, supported by GFDRR and the World Bank, Ulaanbaatar City is taking steps to mitigate flood risk. GFDRR support has also helped propose options for disaster risk financing.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the government to support:
- Improving coordination across government agencies and development partners involved in Mongolia's disaster risk management framework;
- Building capacity for disaster risk identification and assessment;
- Developing a framework for financial resilience and risk transfer;
- Building capacity for increasing the resilience of public infrastructure and facilities; and,
- Reducing the risk of schools to multiple hazards.