More than 20,000 families are at the risk of going hungry, as temperatures reaching as low as -50 degrees centigrade have killed nearly two million head of livestock in Mongolia, the U.N. agriculture agency reported Feb. 2. One third of the Asian nation’s population leads nomadic lives and depend entirely on livestock for a living. Urgent assistance of USD6 million is needed over the next two or three months to help herders make it through to spring, a rapid needs assessment conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found. Locally known as dzud, the extreme cold experienced in Mongolia followed a very dry and long summer and fall, during which insufficient livestock feed was produced to provide to the animals for the winter months. So far, it is estimated that economic losses have topped USD60 million. (U.N. News Service)

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