Emergency Scenarios and Ensuing Responses

The following examples show some technological approaches for mitigation measures for blizzards, heavy snow and earthquake.

1) Blizzards

Blizzards occur in Mongolia generally between September and May. Duration may be short, just a few hours, or up to 10 days. Number of blizzard days varies between less than two days in the west of the country (except for mountains) to between 2 and 8 days in the eastern part of the country and 8-10 days in some mountainous areas.

Blizzards can be extremely dangerous with heavy snow and up to 35 m/s wind. Table 2 gives a listing of recent blizzard disasters.

Table 2.Recent Blizzard disaster in Mongolia

Year

Consequences

Place

Fatalities

Livestock lost

Other

Sept.

1995

Eastern Mongolia

8

48,000

May

1993

Central Mongolia

17

100,000

Sept.

1993

Central and East

11

5,000

20% potato crop lost

Oct.

1992

Central and West

4

500,000

1988

Dornod, Hentii,

Sukhbaatar,Domogobi

8

10,000

Property damage

Heavy snowfall can often prevent by preventing livestock from reaching pasture. It is hard to distinguish the consequences of blizzard (due to chilling) and heavy snow (due to exhaustion and starvation of livestock).

The following safety barrier diagram (Figure 1) shows the structure of emergencies involving blizzards, and the emergency measures which may be used to reduce risk. The sequence of events in a blizzard disaster begins with the weather turning bad and terminates with harmful events to persons, livestock and crops. The first barrier to disastrous consequences is prediction and warning. This can allow persons to seek shelter and, given sufficient time can also allow herdsmen to gather stock and take them to shelter.

2) Heavy Snow Fall

Heavy snow fall disasters differ from blizzards in that persons are not so much at risk. Damage is primarily caused by livestock being immobilized on the range or in shelters (pens, cow shed, etc.) and unable to reach grazing. Figure 2 shows a safety barrier diagram for this situation.

The problems of warning and stock collection in the case of heavy snow fall are similar to those described above for blizzards. The consequences are less direct however. There are two major aspects of the problem, that of people obtaining supplies if snow lasts a long time, and that of providing fodder for animals which cannot reach pasture due to snow.

On farms there is unlikely to be a large shortage of food. The primary problem is in villages, where direct access to food may not be available if transport is halted for a long time. This is a question of the amount of snow falling, and the length of time it remains. The mean depth for heavy snow falls is typically 10-15 cm, in mountain areas 20-25 cm. Extreme snow falls are up to 1.5 m in mountain areas. Transport becomes difficult with snow falls greater than 40 cm.

A problem is communication. Communication of snow warning to farmers can be made by radio, to the limit of access to radio receivers. Communications from farmers, requesting aid, generally have to be made on foot or horseback.

When snow is heavy and the snow remains for longer periods, animals begin to weaken and die. Delays in feeding of one day are unlikely to cause significant damage. But following two days without fodder, mortality begins to increase.

3) Earthquake

Earthquakes are quite frequent in some parts of Mongolia. The consequences in villages are generally destruction of housing, roads and bridges. On farms the traditional gers houses are very resistant to earthquake damage. A safety barrier diagram for earthquake disasters is shown in Figure 3.

Earthquake prediction is difficult, but can be made in a percentage of incidents, particularly with a 1 to 2 day warning. But here again, there are the same difficulties in communication out to rural areas as described above for floods and blizzard warnings. Prediction can be used for increased awareness and possibly for evacuation of collapse-prone buildings, at least in summer. Earthquake preparedness training is an important aspect of this kind of disaster mitigation (Table 3).

Rescue, rehousing and rebuilding are important aspects of disaster mitigation for earthquakes, particularly in winter. There are two major problems in Mongolia which limit the speed of response at present. One is the difficulty of communicating from rural areas. The other is the difficulty of access, particularly during winter.

Table 3. Effectiveness of disaster mitigation measures for earthquake

Safety measures effectiveness

Response

time

Reliability of prediction

Effectiveness of rescue

Rehousiug effectiveness

Overall

Earthquake prediction+ evacuation

days, hours

30%

<10%

Rescue humans

days

Depends on location

Depends on location

Rehousing

days

Depends on location

Depends on location

   
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