Down and Out

11 Dec 2008

As winter sets in, thousands of nomadic herders in Mongolia are preparing for a harsh and uncertain few months, with fears of not being able to get bank loans to help overcome the freezing temperatures which annually devastate grazing patterns.

Living in one of the toughest climates in the world, where temperatures in rural areas can reach as low as -30 degrees Celsius (-22 Fahrenheit), herders are now worried that currently declining food prices could potentially cripple their income.

At present they are struggling to repay their loans, and the banks have now reacted by taking away their goats, camels and cattle as collateral. In Tsogt, located in the mountain region of the Gobi-Altai province, one herder reacted by saying: ‘Our livestock is the only property that we have and it is also the main source for our income’.

‘[Life] is extremely difficult. Last year we used to take herder loans from commercial banks thanks to their active operation in provinces… Now there’s no lending and also the prices of raw materials from animals is very low at the market,’ he added.

World Bank


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