Wednesday, November 19, 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.

3 comments:

dwain said...

"Disaster": What an anthropocentric word. Why not "natural events," especially if they're as common as the numbers show.

I find the wind storms the most interesting part of this. A recent National Geographic mentioned a plan by China to plant a "wall" of trees to cut down on the soil-loss through wind storms. I don't picture Mongolia's steppes as particularly suited for trees, though.

Chris said...

I think "disaster" was appropriate, since this was from ReliefWeb, an organization that is, of course, anthropocentric. We'll let the Sierra Club call them "natural events."

I think most of Mongolia is pretty dry for trees. Maybe they could plant a wall of cacti, although I doubt cacti have much of a root structure. Mongolians are worried about desertification, but I haven't heard many proactive solutions.

Chris said...

I think "disaster" was appropriate, since this was from ReliefWeb, an organization that is, of course, anthropocentric. We'll let the Sierra Club call them "natural events."

I think most of Mongolia is pretty dry for trees. Maybe they could plant a wall of cacti, although I doubt cacti have much of a root structure. Mongolians are worried about desertification, but I haven't heard many proactive solutions.