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Climate Change Impacts on Women in a Developing Country: Mongolia UU-UNO Seminar, 2011

The steppe of Mongolia has supported nomadic herders for thousands of years

Traditional Mobile Home (Ger) of Steppe Nomads

Herders have increased in number significantly since 1990

Herd sizes vary from 20 to over 2000

Herders Make Frequent Movements to Seasonal Pastures

Herders are now struggling to survive as they seek ways to adjust to changes in their environment

Major Environmental Impacts and Climate Change
!  Overgrazing: Livestock numbers have far exceeded
!  loss of plant cover !  plant species changes !  loss of soil moisture critical for plant growth

historical densities and are causing severe overgrazing

!  Climate Change: Mongolia has warmed 2.14o C in the last

70 years

!  Changing seasons timing and temperatures !  Changing rain pattern !  Frequent heat and cold waves !  Weather is more unpredictable

Interviews: Herders’ perceptions of climate change (n = 96)

Responses: Has the weather changed?
What has the biggest impact on your livelihood?
!  Changing Weather—85% !  Overgrazing—15 %

!  Weather is more unpredictable (Mongolian words)


!  “One day is good, other day is worse. Never know

what will happen.”
!  “Weather is like an angry mean man. Changes

!  “Weather is very confusing and extremely


Responses: Herders’ perception responses

!  Are the Seasons changing?
!  The seasons have changed—99% !  Winters are milder—54% !  Summers are shorter—37% !  Summers are cooler but mixed with a few very hot

days (heat waves) that burns the grass—61%

Responses: Climate changes – snow and rain
!  Snowing anytime of year (above June 2009)—65% !  Rains are changing 98%
!  Rains are more intense—88% !  Rain is colder—82% !  Increased gusty winds during rain—53% !  Rain is short lasting only 20 to 30 minutes—63%

“When we were kids the rains were gentle and warm, lasting 2-3 days and we could go out barefoot without shirts and play in the rain. Now it is too cold and kids do not like to go out in the rain.” (similar response given by 63% of herders)

Responses: Pasture Quality
!  Plants are not growing well and pasture quality is

!  Hay is essential for animals to survive harsh winters

when ice and snow covers the pasture.
!  78% of herders say that the quality of hay is reduced and

they must spend more time to look for new areas to collect hay.

Responses: Anticipating the Future
!  Future Weather Changes
!  Weather will get worse—51% !  Weather will get better—19% !  Unsure of future changes—30%

“Year to year getting worse, will not get better.” “Need to protect our environment.” “Hope cycle will reverse.”

Responses: Preparing for the future
!  Collect more hay—29% !  Move more often or move elsewhere—20% !  Reduce size of herd and select only best animals—

19% !  Adopt more sustainable or traditional ways—17% !  Unprepared for the future—32% "What can you do with the weather?” If changes continue: "we are near to disaster"

Woman’s Role Milking cows, goats and horses

!  Climate is changing rapidly in Mongolia as a result of

warming of 2.14o C.
!  Seasons have changed with milder winters and short cooler

summers that have a few very hot days.
!  Impacting the lives of the nomadic herders by altering rains

and snows and changing the growth of steppe plants.
!  Herders anticipate that these weather changes will continue

and are trying to adapt but many are unprepared and instead are preparing to sell animals and quit herding.

Governor, Hentii Aimag “Herders are selling animals and buying apartments in town.”