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A Hidden Disaster...
The Haiti earthquake reminded us once more of the devastating impact of natural disasters on the world’s poor. Here, well beyond the world’s headlines, a multiple natural disaster is bearing down on the people of Mongolia.
Around 1.7 million-head of herded animals have frozen to death in one of the harshest winters Mongolia has seen for decades. Piles of dead animals can be seen by the roads in many places. The disaster began last summer, and we reported on the vulnerability of our businesses in South Gobi to this possibility in September. That possibility has come to pass.
A severe drought in South Gobi and elsewhere meant that there was not enough vegetation for the animals to eat, meaning that they did not have the fat reserves to survive the harsh winter that has followed. Provincial children who were grounded in dormitories because of the A/H1N1 swine flu outbreak are now in critical need, due to lack of adequate heating and food, according to the UB Post. Unusually heavy snows in many places have left families cut off from essential supplies. An estimated 180,000 herding families are in critical need of help, but I've not seen any human casualty figures yet. The economic fall-out from the severe weather is likely to continue long after the immediate crisis has passed.
There is the real likelihood of accelerated population drift to Ulaanbaatar, where the infrastructure is already to unable to support the current population of 1.1 million. This is a compound and significant natural disaster, no doubt. But it has been made worse by a combination of political graft and mismanagement of natural resources, a deeply corrosive process that if left unchecked could have unknown consequences.
Our churches and businesses are right there in the thick of it, seeking to be salt and light in the most desperate situations. I have a trip to South Gobi scheduled for March, when the weather improves, to see what is happening on the ground out there. Within Seedtime we are considering how we can respond with the churches and others, with the resources God has given us.
But maybe this is first and foremost a situation to send us to our knees, and lift up our hands to the Father of Lights, that His Light will shine in this present darkness...
Please pray and ask your church to pray too. Thanks so much!