MERCY CORPS MONGOLIA
                         24 Peace Avenue, Bayanzurkh District
                                       Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
                                       Phone: 976-1146-1145



             Sylvie Doutriaux
Leland Fellow, Congressional Hunger Center


This survey provides quantitative and qualitative socio-economic data on Mongolian
herders – current Mercy Corps Mongolia clients, herders who were once Mercy Corps
clients but are no longer, and herders who have never been affiliated with the

The survey was instigated due to an expressed lack of knowledge and need for
information on herder socio-economic conditions and the impact of collaboration with
Mercy Corps. The goal of the survey was to collect information and data from Mongolian
herders in order to evaluate their socio-economic status, assess how project interventions
impact household economics for Mercy Corps clients and inform Mercy Corps‟ project
implementation and future interventions.

Mercy Corps has been active in Mongolia since 1998; through the “Gobi Initiative”
program, Mercy Corps has been helping to alleviate poverty by strengthening and
diversifying businesses critical to Mongolia‟s agricultural sector. During the 8 years since
the inception of the Gobi Initiative, no “hard” data on herders has been collected, nor has
qualitative information been systematically recorded. Thus, this survey provides a timely
glimpse into herders‟ livelihood conditions, decisions-making and thoughts for the future.

In April and May 2006, 6 survey teams set out in the 6 provinces/aimags in which the
Gobi Initiative is active. The teams conducted 127 interviews among Mercy Corps herder
clients and “random” herders. This survey provides baseline data on Mercy Corps target
population and current clients; ideally, it will be carried out every 2 years, to maintain an
up to date database of information on herders, to track the progress of Mercy Corps
clients as compared with herders who have never been affiliated with the organization
and to help guide Mercy Corps programming on a continuous basis.

Major findings include:

          A higher income appears to be correlated with a higher number of moves
           over the past year.
          Herders are, overall, moderately to very satisfied with the amount of grazing
           land they have access to.
          Drought and zud are by far herders‟ biggest worries for the future
          88% of Mercy Corps herders report their business is somewhat or very
           successful, compared to 56% among non Mercy Corps herders.
          Herders who are not affiliated with Mercy Corps see lack of information and
           lack of training as significant obstacles to running their business. Few Mercy
           Corps herders mentioned these obstacles.
          Mercy Corps clients overwhelmingly see their collaboration with the Gobi
           Initiative program as a reason for the improvement in their household


Executive Summary ............................................................................................                  2

List of Tables and Figures                  ................................................................................    3

1 – Introduction                 ............................................................................................   4

2 – Data Collection and Analysis Methods                            ………………………....................                               5

3 – Summary of Findings       ................................................................................                  6
       3.1 Herders‟ Household.............................................................................                      6
       3.2 Food Availability and Consumption....................................................                                7
       3.3 Herders‟ Livelihood.............................................................................                     8
       3.4 Herder Movement ……………………………………………………                                                                                 9
       3.5 Access to Markets……………………………………………………                                                                                10
       3.6 Savings and Debt…………………………………………………….                                                                                11
       3.7 “Success”…………………………………………………………….                                                                                    12
       3.8 Risk Management and Outlook………………………………………                                                                           13
       3.9 Business/Group Dynamics……………………………………………                                                                             18
       3.10 Sustainability/Future Prospects……………………………………..                                                                     22

4 – Discussion of Survey Results                      ....................................................................... 23

5 –Conclusion........................................................................................................           24


EXCHANGE RATE: 1,120 Tugrik (MNT) = 1 US$

The survey was designed and implemented thanks to the diligent work of a highly
motivated team: Sylvie Doutriaux, Denise Wilkins, Laura Gonzalez, Bayarmaa,
Tungalag, Caruul, Sean Granville-Ross, N. Algirmaa, S. Odkhuu, Puntsag, Erdenesuvd,
Tuvshinbayar, D. Byambasuren, S. Bayarmagnai, D. Erdenebileg, G. Munh-Erdene, John
Edgar, Adam Stein, Bayan-Altai, Tim Stewart, Tsolmon, Zul-Erdene. Many thanks also
to Gretchen Severson who helped with the design of graphs for this report.


The goal of this survey was to collect information and data from Mongolian herders in
order to evaluate their socio-economic status, assess how Gobi Initiative project
interventions impact household economics for Mercy Corps clients and inform Mercy
Corps‟ project implementation and future interventions.

The motivation for the survey came out of a lack of knowledge among Mercy Corps staff
of specific information on herder livelihood and herders‟ opinions on both the Gobi
Initiative program and of constraints and opportunities in their daily life and work. Thus,
the survey constitutes a baseline for herder socio-economic conditions and an informal
(yet highly informative) evaluation of the Gobi Initiative project.

The Gobi Regional Economic Growth Initiative was launched in 1998. The program aims
to develop and strengthen rural business in the Gobi region of Mongolia through
supporting herder groups to expand or diversify their business activities; developing
herder cooperatives; supporting businesses that add value to herder products and link
those products to markets; promoting rural business linkages to the financial services
sector; and improving the quality and accessibility of local business development and
support services.

The Gobi Initiative has worked with over 400 herder groups and cooperatives. However,
the opinion of these clients has rarely been recorded. This survey aims to provide insight
into clients‟ ideas and opinions, as well as quantitative information on their livelihood.

The objectives are to:
    Assess the socio-economic status of herders (Mercy Corps and non-Mercy Corps)
    Examine the dynamics within herder cooperatives
    Evaluate the economic impact on herders of forming cooperatives
    Investigate the impact of Mercy Corps on the herders it has worked with
    Determine the extent of vulnerability of herders to external shocks (weather,
       market prices, etc.)
    Establish whether there is a model of sustainability

The report includes detailed description of herder household and livelihood
characteristics, risk management and decision-making (compared between Mercy Corps
clients and herders who have never been affiliated with Mercy Corps), business
dynamics, and future prospects. The analysis presents the main findings gleaned from the
data collected; please refer to the full database for more detail.


A total of 127 herders from 6 provinces/aimags participated in the survey, including 65
current clients, 24 previous Mercy Corps clients and 38 random herders. The survey,
consisting of 94 questions and conducted interview-style1 by Mercy Corps field staff, was
carried out in 4 or more districts/soums in each of the 6 provinces. A description of the
survey purpose and methodology was read to each respondent, and he or she was asked
for permission before starting the questions. The questionnaire and methodology were
tested over three pilot runs, and significant revisions were made before the start the
official surveying.

The sample included as many different types of herders as possible in order to assemble a
diverse picture of herder households. The staff in each of the 6 provincial offices selected
20 or more herders to survey according to the following criteria:
1. About 10 herders belong to a herder group and have been working with Mercy Corps
    for a long time or just began working with Mercy Corps recently.
2. About 3 herders have worked with Mercy Corps in the past but do not work with
    Mercy Corps now
3. About 7 herders have never worked with Mercy Corps

Further selection criteria:
    About 10 herders are unsuccessful or somewhat unsuccessful
    About 10 herders live more than 100 km away from the aimag center
    At least 20 km distance between herders surveyed
    Most herders live at least 25 km from the soum center
    No more than 2 herders interviewed from a single herder group
    No more than 1 master herder

Each province/aimag established its own survey team, including 1-2 staff members
(usually the office representative and/or the information officer) and, in most cases, a
Peace Corps Volunteer or the Congressional Hunger Fellow.

The survey is divided into 2 sections.
    Section #1: Herder's Household – information on the material situation of each
       herder family. Sub-sections included family; assets; livelihood; access to land;
       agricultural activities; access to markets; food security/dietary diversity; savings,
       investment and debt; risk management; and future outlook.
    Section #2: Business/Group Dynamics – questions herder group/cooperative
       functioning and benefits received by individual herders. Sub-sections included
       respondent information; cooperative dynamics; business plan development and
       use; cooperative financial details and benefits; and sustainability/future prospects
       for the cooperative or herder group.

Section #1 pertains to all herders, while Section #2 applies to Mercy Corps herders only.

    Meaning the interviewer sits down with the herder, asks questions to the herder and fills out the survey
    Only for those herders involved in a cooperative or herder group, whether or not Mercy Corps clients.


       3.1 Herders’ Household

Gender and Age of Household Head
Of the 227 households surveyed, 114 (90%) were headed by a man. In a number of cases
– usually when the male household head was away – his wife answered the survey. The
average age of the household head was 45.
                                                      Education of Household Head
Education of Household Head
Just over half (54%) of respondents have at                                    4th grade
least a secondary school (8th grade) education                                 5-8th grade
and one third (33%) have completed high-                                       9-12th grade
school. All respondents have at least a 4th                                    college
                                                                               technical school
grade education (this should come as no
surprise given Mongolia‟s 98% literacy
rate!).                                                       Household Composition
                                                           # members    % households
Household Composition                                            4          33
                                                                 5          19
The number of members in the household varies                    6          12
between 1 and 9, with about two thirds (64%) of                  7          9
households counting 4, 5 or 6 members. A household               3          9
usually consists of one nuclear family; however, in              2          9
                                                                 9          4
some cases, more than two generations live in one                8          2
household. 23 households (18%) have one or more                  1          2
member over the age of 60; 89 households (70%) have
one or more member under the age of 15 and, among these households, the average
number of members under 15 is 2.12. Thus, not all members of the household are equally
productive. An average of 1.7 members in each household is probably not contributing to
household income generation.
Living Situation
                                                         House Type
84% of households live in a ger, while
the rest live in a wood or cement house.
6% of households have both a ger and a                                  Ger
wood house – in this case they generally                                Wood or cement house
live mainly in the house.
Residence in a house instead of a ger appears to be a function of geography rather than a
reflection of income differential. In Gobi-Sumber province, while about a third of
respondents live in a wood or cement house, their incomes are comparable to those of
herders in other provinces.

Children’s Schooling
A large majority of school-age children                              Reasons for School Age Children
attend school. 13% of households                                          not Attending School

reported one or more school-age                 needed for w ork
children not in school. Reasons for not              at home
attending school, in addition to the ones      financial reasons
indicated in the figure (i.e. “other”),        distance/difficulty
                                                  of transport
include (1) having already graduated
from 8th grade, and (2) wanting to study
                                                                      0     1     2     3     4       5       6
in Ulaanbaatar but living in another
                                                                                 % respondents
province and thus not being authorized
to do (by the university).

        3.2 Food Availability and Consumption

Daily Food Consumption
                                                   Food Consumption in Last 7 Days
Meat is the foundation of the
Mongolian diet. In addition to the                  meat
                                       homemade cookies
standard mutton and goat meat,                      flour
herders eat beef, camel and horse                    rice
meat on occasion. Flour-based                     candy
cookies, noodles or bread-like                     bread
pastries often accompany meat in           noodles/pasta
the making of a meal. Vegetables                             0        1     2     3      4        5       6       7
                                                                 Number of days on w hich item w as consumed
and fruit are a rare occurrence in
the diet of most herders.

Food consumption is highly seasonal: the daily diet in herder households relies heavily
on those products that are available from the herd or in the garden. Since this survey was
carried out in the spring, dairy consumption is infrequent (on average less than 4 days per
week): at this time, baby animals are drinking their mother‟s milk. Herders reported daily
consumption of dairy products in the mid to late summer, when the babies have grown.

Adequacy of Food Supply                                                   In an Average Year,
                                                                    When Does your Family Experience
While 48% of herders never experience food
                                                                            Food Shortages?
shortages, more than half (52%) do occasionally                                                       never
suffer from low food supply, most often during the                                                    summer
spring. Food shortages also occur at other times                                                      autumn
during the year in some households. One                                                               all year
household even reported food shortages all year

Adequacy of the food supply for herders is         This Year, in the Winter and Spring Months,
seasonal, and also annual: during zud years,           has your Food Supply been Sufficient
conditions are particularly difficult and                to Feed all Household Members?
families have more trouble meeting their
food needs. The 2006 winter was moderate;
35% of respondents met their household                                               yes, very well
food needs “very well”, while 65% did so                                             no answer

Drinking Water                                                 Source of Drinking Water
Potable water is difficult to come by for
nomadic people. 79% of herders report getting                w ell
their drinking water from a well, and 40%,                 pump
from a stream or river. 17% get drinking water                city
from multiple sources. In the “other” category,         pond/lake
herders indicated snow or a spring. One out of
                                                                     0   20     40      60       80
every 5 herders reported several sources of                               % respondents
drinking water.

       3.3 Herders’ Livelihood

The total 2005 income of herders
                                                   Income Distribution
surveyed varies between MNT 143,000
                                                                          less than MNT 500,000
and MNT 21,541,754. The average
                                                                          MNT 500,001 - 2,000,000
income of the 127 herders interviewed is                                  MNT 2,000,001 - 4,000,000
MNT 2,569,330, and the median income                                      MNT 4,000,001 - 6,000,000
                                                                          MNT 6,000,001 - 8,000,000
is MNT 1,750,000. 53% of herders made                                     MNT 8,000,001 +
between MNT 500,001 and MNT
2,000,000 last year.

Overall, the income of non-Mercy Corps herders (herders who are not affiliated with
Mercy Corps) is 91% of that of Mercy Corps herders. Among the 10 herders with the
highest income and the 10 herders with the lowest income in our sample, there is an equal
number of Mercy Corps and non-Mercy Corps herders (see “Success” sub-section).

Livestock Ownership
While income is one indicator of a herder‟s wealth, livestock ownership is another
important indicator: it reflects the herder‟s ability to withstand economic shocks.
Livestock are a herder‟s bank account of sorts. Thus, in discussions of livelihood and
wealth, it is important to take into account livestock ownership.

However, since livestock differ widely in their individual cost (mostly according to
animal type), a more accurate measure of a herder‟s wealth is calculated in BOD, the

standardized cattle equivalent unit, rather than in animal head count. 1 BOD = 1 cattle or
1 horse or 7 sheep or 7 goats or 0.67 camel.
The average number of
BOD for herders in the                     Number of BOD Owned by Respondents
sample is 57. The range is
2 to 396.                                                                                                     0-25
                                  MC herders                                                                  26-50
Since breeding females                                                                                        51-100
are the means of               non MC herders
expanding herd size,
herders keep close track of                 0%       20%                    40%     60%     80%    100%
their females. In the
sample, the number of breeding female BOD varies between 1 and 122, with an average
of 21.

Agricultural Activities
70 out of 127 herders (55%) do not engage in any agricultural activity. Those who do
carry out some agriculture grow vegetables or cultivate hay or fodder on small plots of
land (in most cases less than 1 hectare). Four respondents (all Mercy Corps clients) have
larger growing areas: 20 to 25 hectares planted in hay or fodder.

23% of herders cultivate on communal land (no land use certification), while 18% have
an official permit or license to use the land.

Respondents are overwhelmingly (85%) very or moderately satisfied with the amount of
agricultural land they have access to.

       3.4 Herder Movement

Livestock production in Mongolia is extensive. Due to the poor quality of grazing land
and the large size of the herds, herders typically move several times during the year to get
to better pasture for their animals.
                                                                                Number of Moves in the Past Year
Seasonal Moving
In our sample, the average number of moves                                 30
                                                           % respondents

in the past year is 4.7. Mercy Corps client                                20
herders moved an average of 4.5 times, while
herders not affiliated with Mercy Corps
(“non Mercy Corps herders) moved 4.9 times                                 0
                                                                                0 1 2     3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10+
on average.

The number of moves is also affected by the condition of
                                                                                                       Average Number of Moves
the rangeland and pasture. Thus, in the Gobi desert region
                                                                                                              by Aimag
herders may need to move more often, as the pasture is
poorer than in other regions. In our sample, the number of                                            Dundgobi                                        10

moves is homogeneous in four provinces (both Gobi and                                                 Umnugobi                                         5
                                                                                                      Gobi-Altai                                       3
Hangai provinces) and slightly higher in a fifth province.
                                                                                                      Gobi-Sumber                                      3
In Dundgobi province, however, herders moved on
                                                                                                      Bayankhongor                                     3
average 10 times during 2005! Moderate to severe
                                                                                                      Uvurkhangai                                      3
droughts were reported in that area throughout 2005,
leading to a more itinerant lifestyle than usual for local

The average total distance moved in the
past year is 121 km. The range of                                            Total Distance Moved (km) in the Past Year
distances is 1 to 1,000 km and a majority                                           50
(47%) of herders moved 0-50km.

                                                                    % respondents
50% of herders travel 6-10 km each day                                              20
(round-trip) to graze their animals. 21%                                            10
travel 1-5 km, while 13% travel 11-                                                 0
                                                                                             0 -50     51-10 0   10 1-150    151-2 0 0 2 0 0 -2 50    2 51+
15km. The average distance travelled
each day is 9.8 km.

Adequacy of Grazing Land
Herders are overall very or moderately satisfied                                     Do You Feel You Have Enough Land for
                                                                                           Fattening Your Animals?
with the amount of land they have access to for
grazing their livestock. 16 herders (out of which 9                                                                                         plenty
are current MC clients), with varying levels of                                                                                             medium
income and number of livestock, said they did not                                                                                           no
feel they had enough land for fattening their                                                                                               no answer

        3.5 Access to Markets

Respondents sell their products mainly at the aimag market. They travel on average 79
km (one way) to the market they use most frequently.
                                                             Distance to Market Most Frequently Used (km)
8 respondents (most of them from
Dundgovi province) sell often in the                        50
Ulaanbaatar (UB) market, and 24
                                            % respondents

(most of them from Dundgovi and                             30
Gobi-Sumber provinces) rarely sell in                       20
UB. All the others never use the UB                         10
market to sell their products or did                         0
not answer the question (19                                      0 -50                   51-10 0     10 1-150    151-2 0 0    2 0 1-2 50      2 51+


60% of respondents use their own transportation (whether a jeep, a motorcycle or a
horse) to get to the market. Other means of transport include public (9%), hired (21%),
friends/relatives (10%) or postal truck (1%).

       3.6. Savings and Debt

The average amount of money herders had on hand the day of the survey is MNT
126,253. The range of cash reported was MNT 70 to MNT 2,000,000. 30 respondents did
not answer this question, and among them, a few expressed that they felt uncomfortable
saying how much (or little) they had. One herder had no cash, but he had one sheepskin
he would sell when needed money.

35 respondents reported having a bank account while 37 have none. 55 respondents did
not answer this question. Among Mercy Corps clients, 19 respondents have a bank
account, 23 do not and 23 did not answer the question. Among herders who have never
been affiliated with Mercy Corps, 16 have a bank account, while 14 do not and 32 did not
answer the question. Among those herders who do have a bank account, the average
amount of money in the account is MNT 829,903, and Mercy Corps herders have on
average 2.7 times more savings than non Mercy Corps herders. Two herders reported
they did not have savings accounts because they could earn a better rate of interest by
lending the money.

                        Savings: Mercy Corps vs. Non Mercy Corps Herders
                                           Total       % with        Average
                                          Number       Savings       Savings
                     MC Herder Client       66           29        MNT 1,011,053
                     Non MC Herder          61           20        MNT 376,417

The Gobi Initiative program facilitates herders‟ obtaining bank loans to support and/or
expand their business. Many herders take out loans, either on their own or as part of a
cooperative or herder group. Among those herders who are in debt, the average amount
of the debt is MNT 528,346.

                           Debt: Mercy Corps vs. Non Mercy Corps Herders
                                               Total      % with     Average Debt
                                              Number       Debt
                       MC Herder Client         66          51      MNT 500,000
                       Non MC Herder            61          38      MNT 550,000
                    N.B. Debt includes the total amount of loans (minus the amount
                    paid back already) plus the amount of money owed to other people .

Some herders in the sample have both savings and debts, because of their loan repayment
schedule (they are saving the money in order to make a payment).

         3.7 “Success”

If the “success” of a herder is defined as a function of income, assets, and livestock
ownership (data available in the survey), we can look at “success” for the herders in our
sample and ask: how to determine what are the reasons behind this success? The answer
is complex and multifaceted and goes beyond the scope of this report. However, we will
provide some elements of an answer in sub-section.

To begin with, we might ask: are herders who have been receiving Mercy Corps
assistance better off than herders who have never been affiliated with Mercy Corps?

The tables below show the income, assets and BOD of the 10 herders with the highest
income, and the 10 with the lowest income in our survey.

      10 Herders with the Highest Income in 2005               10 Herders with the Lowest Income in 2005
       Current                                                  Current
     Mercy Corps      2005                                    Mercy Corps      2005
                                Assets      BOD                                          Assets       BOD
       client?       Income                                     client?       Income
     1=yes; 2=no                                              1=yes; 2=no
           1           21542         13        396                 1             640              5     42
           2           10770         24        192                 1             630              8      5
           1            9844         18        204                 2             600              6     28
           2            9684         19        188                 2             550              6     16
           2            8950         20        237                 2             528              7     29
           1            7956         20        111                 1             440              5     14
           1            7886         19         31                 2             430              4      8
           1            6750         21        153                 1             325              6      7
           2            6023          5        202                 2             302              5     13
           2            5587         15        131                 1             143              4      3

N.B. 1. Income is in million MNT.
      2. The number associated with “assets”, above, is a very rough estimate of the value of a herder‟s
assets. In our calculations, each “small” asset (a radio, a television, a solar panel, etc.) was given a “weight”
of 1, each “medium-priced” asset (a ger, a motorbike, a trailer) was weighed as 2 and each expensive asset
(a truck, jeep or tractor) was weighed as 3. The numbers above represents the sum of the weighed assets for
each herder.

According to these tables, there is an equal number of Mercy Corps and „non-Mercy
Corps‟ herders in the highest, and lowest, income groups. There appears to be no clear
difference in economic status between the two groups.

A high income is usually correlated with a high number of assets and high BOD.
However, there are a few exceptions, particularly in the high income group (above). One
herder with a high income and a high BOD count has few assets (in this case, a truck, a
car battery and a radio – no report of a ger or house is probably indicative of data
inconsistency). Another has many assets and a high income but a small BOD count; this
herder reported MNT 5 million in income from the sale of hay and fodder, as well as
MNT 2 million in remittances/support from relatives (in Mongolia or abroad).

Is moving often, and presumably better-       Average Number of Moves Per Income Class
fed animals, a good income-raising                      Income                      # of Moves
strategy? A look into possible links        less than MNT 500,000                        1.4
between number of moves and success of      MNT 5000,000 - 2,000,000                     3.7
                                            MNT 2,000,001 - 4,000,000                    5.1
a herder shows that (1) a higher income     MNT 4,000,001 - 6,000,000                    6.8
appears to be correlated with a higher      MNT 6,000,001 - 8,000,000                   10.5
number of moves over the past year and      MNT 8,000,000 +                              8.8
(2), as would be expected, generally
herders who own more livestock move     N.B There is a major outlier in the MNT 6,000,001 to
                                        8,000,000 income class: one herder moved 32 times in
more often.                             the past year. If this outlier is taken out, the average
                                              number of moves for that income class becomes 3.3
                                              instead of 10.5.

        3.8 Risk Management and Outlook

One of the objectives of the survey was to learn more about risk management techniques
among herders, and to find out about their outlook for the future. The Gobi Initiative
program aims to increase herders‟ ability to withstand shocks. Is the program achieving
this? Are Mercy Corps herders better able to manage risks and plan for the future than
herders who have never been affiliated with Mercy Corps?

Recent Problems Faced by Herders
The 1999-2001 zud is still fresh in herders‟ memory: about two thirds of herders report
suffering from it. Drought, poor pasture and lack of money have also been problems for
close to half of the herders interviewed.

Mercy Corps and non Mercy Corps herders report the same problems, with similar
frequency, except zud and theft, which are mentioned more often by non Mercy Corps
herders than by Mercy Corps herders.

                                      Problems Suffered in the Last 5 Years

                             poor pasture
               no money to do something
                            lack of w ater                                    MC herders
                                  thieves                                     non MC herders
                individuals moving aw ay
                                             0       20         40       60            80
                                                           % respondents

               N.B. 16 respondents either did not suffer from any problems in the last
               5 years, or did not answer the question.

Other problems mentioned include illness, harsh weather, shortage of gas in 2000, wild
animals (wolves) and poor cooperation among group members.

Response to Recent Problems
When faced with problems in the last 5 years, herders‟ first response has been to move to
better pasture and/or buy hay and fodder. Mercy Corps herders are more likely than non
Mercy Corps herders to move to better pasture, get a loan, or seek the help of the
government or of an outside organization (Mercy Corps?). Non Mercy Corps herders, on
the other hand, have more of a tendency to buy hay or fodder and sell assets than their
Mercy Corps counterparts.

                                                  Response to Problems

                  moved to better pasture
                   bought hay and fodder
                                   got loan
                   sought gv't or org. help
               moved to place w ith w ater                               MC herders
               got hay or fodder from gv't                               non MC herders
                               sold assets
                            took no action
                                              0     20          40      60        80
                                                          % respondents

“Other” responses mentioned by herders include trying to increase their number of
animals, trying to fatten animals, using veterinary services, disinfecting fenced areas,
building/fixing shelters, selling or slaughtering animals, planting vegetables, hay and
fodder, herding animals for other herders, digging for gold, making wood carvings to sell,
working as hired labor, etc.

Plans for another Zud
If faced with another zud, most herders would primarily choose to buy fodder, move to
better pasture and slaughter or sell some animals. Non Mercy Corps herders are more
likely than Mercy Corps herders to buy fodder, while the latter are more likely than the
former to grow their own fodder. Perhaps herders who are affiliate with Mercy Corps
have learned to be more enterprising.

                              What Would You Do if There Were Another Zud?

                                  buy fodder
                      move to better pasture
               slaughter or sell some animals
                                grow fodder                                            MC herders
                                build shelters                                         non MC herders
                                                 0       10       20 30 40 50           60   70
                                                                    % respondents

“Other” solutions mentioned by herders include making hay, “doing what others will do”,
fattening animals, protecting animals from the weather, improving the quality of animals
(breeding elite animals), finding the best pastures, and using technical school skills to be
a carpenter or a welder instead of a herder.

One interviewer reported that many herders told of hoarding their animals when faced
with a challenge: they keep the healthiest animals and sell off the sick and the weak.

Preparation of Hay and Fodder
Good winter planning includes preparing a supply of hay and fodder for the livestock. A
majority of herders prepare just enough hay and fodder to feed sick, weak and young
animals. About a third of respondents say that, last winter, they prepared enough hay and
fodder to feed animals on particularly difficult days (snowstorm, extreme cold, and
windstorm). Only a small proportion of herders prepare enough hay and fodder to feed
their animals every day throughout the winter; this is generally cost prohibitive.

                                           Preparation of Hay and Fodder

                   enough to feed animals everyday
                        throughout the w inter                                         MC herders
                 enough to feed animals some days                                      non MC herders
               just enough to feed sick/w eak/young

                                                         0        10   20   30   40    50    60
                                                                       % respondents

Information Dissemination
Staying aware is a good risk management strategy. Herders rely mainly on radio,
television, newspapers or magazines and the Gobi Initiative staff to stay aware of
opportunities and new ideas. Mercy Corps herders listen to the radio and watch television
more than non Mercy Corps herders, who get information from their friends, family or
neighbors more frequently than Mercy Corps herders. About 40% of both Mercy Corps
and non Mercy Corps herders rely on the Gobi Initiative to provide information.

                                   How Do You Stay Aware of Opportunities
                                              or New Ideas?

               new spapers/magazines
                          Gobi Initiative                                           MC herders
               friends/family/neighbors                                             non MC herders
                      governor's office
                                             0        20         40      60        80         100
                                                                % respondents

Other sources of information include Mercy Corps‟ Rural Business News magazine, Gobi
Initiative trainings, trade fairs, bagh meetings.

Obstacles to Running Business
Mercy Corps and non Mercy Corps herders report similar obstacles to running their
businesses. However, non Mercy Corps herders complain a great deal more than Mercy
Corps herders about lack of information and lack of training. This seems to indicate that
the Gobi Initiative is doing a good job of providing information and training for herders
to run their businesses.

                                             Obstacles to Running Business

                  distance to market
                     money shortage
                          poor sales
                        lack of labor
                   no good partners
                           high taxes
             lack of access to credit
                                                                                        MC herders
                 lack of information                                                    non MC herders
                      lack of training

                                         0       10        20        30       40         50         60
                                                                % respondents

All herders – whether or not they have been involved with Mercy Corps – are able to
discuss to some degree in a facile manner how market forces impact their livelihood: low
or volatile selling prices, supply exceeding demand at certain points in a selling season,
having to illegally sell cashmere because of high export taxes (resulting in lower selling
prices), high fuel costs, the increased price of staples, poor cash flow, lack of access to
markets, lack of market information (supply and demand), and the need to educate
consumers were noted in most surveys. Several Mercy Corps herders mentioned the need
for bigger loans with longer payback times so that they can buy more equipment.

One respondent observed: "[I see] no obstacles. You just need to get past it. Use your

Worries for the Future
Herders overwhelmingly see bad weather, particularly drought and zud, as their main
worries for the future. Mercy Corps herders are more concerned than non Mercy Corps
herders about the lack of markets and the poor quality of their animals. Non Mercy Corps
herders once more see lack of information as a main worry to the success of their
business and livelihood security.

                                                   Worries for the Future

                 poor quality pasture
                 poor quality animals
                       lack of markets
                             byl myytai
                      animal diseases
                      money shortage
                    low selling prices
             lack of access to w ater                                        MC herders
                     unqualified labor
                            high taxes                                       non MC herders
                    too many herders
                       can't get a loan
                   lack of information
                                          0   20         40        60       80       100
                                                         % respondents

Other worries include thieves, children‟s health, low cash flow, decreasing levels of well
water, herder overcrowding, price fluctuations, lack of labor, windy weather, and distance
to the market.

How to Deal with these Issues?
In response to these worries, most herders choose to buy fodder or move. Mercy Corps
herders are much more likely than their non Mercy Corps counterparts to work with other
cooperative or herder group members. It seems that Mercy Corps herders see their fellow

cooperative or herder group members as a support network in times of hardship; and
probably at all times.

                                               Ways to Deal with these Issues

                                      buy fodder
              w ork w ith other Coop/HG members
                 expand business/new business
                    increase use of vet services                               MC herders
            research grants or seek help from an                               non MC herders
                                                    0    10   20    30    40   50     60
                                                               % respondents

Other ways to deal with worries for the future include: “Plan for poor weather and
drought; be well organized: focus on the supply of animals: not too many, not too few”,
“improve soum market: bring in others from the provincial capital or from Ulaanbaatar to
build competition; create a better market for their products”, “environmental protection”,
“listen to accurate weather forecasts and respond; we didn't used to pay attention to
weather as it wasn't necessary.”

       3.9 Business/Group Dynamics

This section addresses questions relating to herders‟ satisfaction with their business and
with their membership in a cooperative.

Among the 127 respondents in our sample, 83 (65%) belong to a cooperative or herder
group. Among these: 9 are group leaders (out of which 7 Mercy Corps herders and 2 non
Mercy Corps herders); 25 are board members (out of which 15 Mercy Corps herders and
10 non Mercy Corps herders); and 49 are regular group members (out of which 38 Mercy
Corps herders and 11 non Mercy Corps herders).

 67% participate in daily business activities
 31% participate in management
 24% participate financially
 18% participate in other ways (making airag, making boots, technical participation,
 Only 25 (40%) of non Mercy Corps herders are part of a cooperative or Herder Group
   while 60 (92%) Mercy Corps clients are
 The average number of years as a cooperative or herder group member is 2.8 for
   Mercy Corps clients and 2.7 for non Mercy Corps clients

Herders’ Perception of the Success of their Business
On average, herders see their business as moderately successful. 88% of Mercy Corps
herders report their business is somewhat or very successful, compared to 56% among
non Mercy Corps herders. 44% of non Mercy Corps herders do not think their business is
successful, compared to 11% among Mercy Corps herders. For Mercy Corps, it is
positive that clients are overall fairly more satisfied with the success of their business
than those herders who have never been affiliated with Mercy Corps.

                                              Success of Business

                            Not successful

                    Somew hat successful                                          MC herder
                                                                                  non MC herder
                           Very successful

                                              0           20    40    60     80
                                                           % respondents

Reasons for Joining a Cooperative or Herder Group
Increasing income (80% of those who are in a cooperative or herder group) and doing
activities better than by myself (85%) are the two top reasons herders joined a
cooperative. In addition, for Mercy Corps herders, the promise of receiving trainings is a
strong incentive for joining a cooperative or herder group. Among non Mercy Corps
herders, the social pressure from relatives and friends plays an important role in the
decision to join.

                        Reasons for Joining Cooperative or Herder Group

               Do activities better than by myself
                                  Increase income
                                   Receive training
               Relatives/friends asked me to join                                    MC herder
                  Be involved in a new business
                                                                                     non MC herder
                                   Get a bank loan
                                                      0      20      40   60    80     100
                                                                  % respondents

Benefits Received from Joining a Cooperative or Herder Group
66% of herders (75% of Mercy Corps clients) see the fact that they are now doing
something they could not do lone as the main benefit from being in a cooperative or
herder group. A higher income (69%) and new skills (50%) were also mentioned among
the main benefits from joining a cooperative or herder group.

5 Mercy Corps herders and 3 non Mercy Corps herders feel they have received no
benefits at all from joining a group. Among these, 5 are respondents who reported their

businesses were not successful and 1 just started his/her business, while 2 gave no answer
to the question regarding success of the business.

               Benefits Received from Joining Cooperative or Herder Group

           Now doing something couldn't do alone
                              Increased income
                             Learned new skills
             Became involved in a new business                                   MC herder
                                Received a loan
                                                                                 non MC herder
                                                   0   10   20    30 40 50 60      70   80
                                                                 % respondents

Collaboration with the Gobi Initiative program
In response to the question of why they started a business, an overwhelming majority of
herders answered “to increase their income”.

One question, for Mercy Corps herders only, addressed community members‟ opinion of
them as Gobi Initiative program clients. The most common answers to this question were:
“they think you have an advantage” and “they think they would like to collaborate with
the Gobi Initiative too”. This appears to support the idea that the Gobi Initiative program
is well received and sought after in the areas in which it is being implemented.

When asked whether they were aware of others following their example, some herders
said yes, while a large number answered that they were not aware of others following
their example.

Cooperative/Herder Group Dynamics
Cooperatives and herder groups are encouraged to hold regular meetings to discuss issues
and make joint decisions. The average number of meetings in the past year for Mercy
Corps client respondents was 2.7, while for non Mercy Corps herders it was 2.3.

Meeting minutes help to keep track of what has been discussed and allow for later
referral to the discussions and decisions. Minutes are “always” taken at meetings,
according to about one third of respondents; the rest of the respondents reported varying
levels of note-taking in their group, from never, maybe, sometimes, or often and to “don‟t

There appears to be active debate within groups; Mercy Corps herders report that active
debate took place on average 2.1 times in the past year; for non Mercy Corps herders the
average is 2 times. There was generally agreement between respondents that members
frequently suggested new ideas to their group; these were principally new business ideas.

In response to new ideas, most groups report active discussion within the group. Only
two herders (both MC clients) reported that the leader only responds.

Cooperative Financial Details and Benefits
As part of the survey, we asked respondents some questions on their cooperative or
herder group‟s finances and financial decision-making. The goal was to find out how the
power distribution works within the group and whether the benefits of a group‟s financial
success (or failure) are divided justly.

In terms of control of the cooperative or herder group‟s joint assets, 27% of Mercy Corps
herders reported that the group leader was in charge; 33% said the board and 40% said
the members. Among non MC clients, 10% of respondents said the leader took care of
the assets in their group, 40% said the board, and 50% said the members.

Mercy Corps clients reported that 19% of their cooperatives of herder groups have a
reserve fund. 25% do not currently have one but have had one in the past, and 56% have
never had one. Among non Mercy Corps herder respondents, 32% said their group has a
reserve fund, 21% do not currently have one but have had it in the past and 47% have
never had such a fund.

51% of Mercy Corps clients are very familiar with investments made by the cooperative
or herder group, 33% are somewhat familiar and 16% are not at all familiar. Among non
Mercy Corps herders, 35% are very familiar, 18% somewhat and 47% not familiar at all.
It appears Mercy Corps groups are better at sharing information about group investments
among members than groups who have never been affiliated with Mercy Corps.

71% of Mercy Corps herders indicated they thought all coop members benefited equally
from investments in machinery, as compared to 44% among non Mercy Corps herders.
Mercy Corps groups are also better at equal sharing of opportunities associated with
purchase of materials by the cooperative or herder group.

Each member of a cooperative or herder group should receive dividends on a regular
basis: a pre-established portion of the group‟s profits. 49% of Mercy Corps herders report
never receiving the dividend that is due to them; 20% say they sometimes receive it and
31% report they always do. Among non Mercy Corps herders, 78% never receive
dividends, 11% do sometimes and 11% always do. Mercy Corps groups are clearly better
at distributing dividends than herder groups who have never been affiliated with Mercy
Corps. However, all groups could work to improve their sharing of dividends.

Herders were asked whether their skills have improved as a result of working being a
cooperative or herder group member. While non Mercy Corps herders saw little or no
improvement in their skills, at least half of Mercy Corps herders saw improvement in
their financial, management, marketing and, mostly, technical skills. This indicates that
Mercy Corps trainings and technical assistance are having positive results.

       3.10 Sustainability/Future Prospects

Improvements in Household Situation (Income/Number of Animals/Assets, etc.) within the
Past 2 Year; Reasons for Improvement.
Mercy Corps clients overwhelmingly see their collaboration with the Gobi Initiative
program as a reason for the improvement in their household situation. Loans are another
reason Mercy Corps herders mention with much higher frequency than non Mercy Corps
herders. Other reasons mentioned often by both (but more by non Mercy Corps herders)
include good weather and hard work.

                      Reasons for Improvement in Household Situation

                      collaboration w ith GI
                            good w eather
                                hard w ork
                                       loan                            MC herders
                                                                       non MC herders

                                               0   10      20   30    40   50
                                                        % respondents

An increase in the number of animals is another reason many herders gave for the
improvement in their household situation. A few respondents say their household
situation has not improved in the past 2 years.

Access to financing
Most herders feel they can get access to financing without Gobi Initiative assistance. A
few do not, because of lack of collateral, high interest rates, lack of experience or lack of
interest in getting a loan.

Sustainability of Cooperative or Herder Group
A large majority of herders said that yes, they expected their cooperative to keep running
in the future. One said no, because the coop members were not active and she‟s better off
alone, focusing and working hard. Others echoed that their coop members were inactive,
or that their management team is ineffective.

Herders’ Evaluation of Mercy Corps’ work
Herders were very positive about the Gobi Initiative program. A number of respondents
mentioned they were grateful for the trainings and consultancies offered by the program.
One herder suggested improving the information dissemination services. Several herders
asked for extending the program‟s current services by providing more trainings and
technical assistance, more support for animal husbandry, extended loan repayment
periods, further cooperative development, etc. on the whole, herders appear to be very
satisfied with Gobi Initiative programs… and they want more.


Sampling for this survey was not random and the sample size of 127 is on the low side to
provide a true representation of herders‟ livelihood, opinions, group work and future
plans. However, the survey provides a valuable snapshot into herders‟ lives, according to
which Mercy Corps will be able to provide staff with an overview of the client base and
successes and barriers herders face as well as prospects for the future.

The socio-economic status of herders in Southern Mongolia, as represented by our (albeit
limited) sample, varies widely. A majority of herders scrape by to make ends meet and
are mostly concerned with keeping track of the weather, water sources and such everyday
business considerations that are out of their control. Other herders, however, have
incomes, assets and livestock counts worth tens of millions of tugrik; for them, important
business considerations include accessing new markets, stabilizing prices, getting cash,
investing in specialized equipment, etc. They have enough resources to be able to
withstand minor weather irregularities with only slight effects on their livelihood. This
wide array in socio-economic status entails different needs in terms of training, technical
assistance and support. Mercy Corps already offers a range of services to herders;
perhaps emphasizing exchange visits between successful and less successful herders and
encouraging mentoring relationships could be beneficial.

This analysis has focused on the differences between Mercy Corps and non Mercy Corps
herders. The Gobi Initiative supports herders to diversify their sources of income, as a
risk management strategy. The comparison in experiences and opinions of these two
groups shows similar risk management strategies, particularly in areas related to herding
and weather. Time-tested herder strategies have changed little in the wake of Gobi
Initiative program interventions. Herders generally know what is good for them and they
are able to make good decisions based on experience. The two areas in which Mercy
Corps clients have a distinct advantage, according to all herders, are access to
information and training. Mercy Corps herders are grateful for these opportunities; non
Mercy Corps herders wish they also had access to these opportunities.

In terms of “new” initiatives – like the forming of cooperatives and herder groups – there
is quite a bit of difference between the two groups. Transparency within Mercy Corps
herder groups is more widespread, as is equitable division of labor and decision-making
power. These are important considerations for the success of a group and thus, they are
positive results for Mercy Corps. Nonetheless, questions remain regarding the
organization‟s work with cooperatives and herder groups. Perhaps collaboration should
be pursued with a broader clientele: particularly motivated and dynamic individual
herders, or smaller groups with no predetermined number of members. It is unfortunate
that groups would come together in a contrived manner purely to qualify to receive the
services of the organization. Increased flexibility in the nature of the business and the
qualifications of the applicants could also be favorable. The text below highlights the
impressions of one interviewer who conducted the survey among a number of Gobi

                    To Work as a Cooperative or Not to Work as a Cooperative

       The biggest obstacles faced by herders are: harsh and unpredictable weather, lack of
       water, diversification, remoteness and lack of labor. Gobi Initiative‟s solution to the
       above-mentioned issues has been to encourage herders to form cooperatives, diversify
       their businesses and provide training. However, the first two issues – collaboration and
       diversification – may not take into account the reality of the situation.

       The need for frequent moves and the distances involved in the herding lifestyle prevent
       communication and collaboration. Interestingly, lack of common interests, differing levels
       of interests/activity also prevent herders from working together. All herders – even those
       working alone and those who have achieved some success – seem to understand the
       benefit of collaboration; however, they have indicated that they need to do this in a way
       that is in alignment with their environment.

       Some former Mercy Corps clients felt it was better to break away from a group that came
       together in a contrived manner and to focus on what they do best with people with whom
       they share a natural basis for teamwork. Also, some herders want simply to be herders and
       not take on a side business. They would like to focus on the quality of the animals they
       raise and not the number. This may not meet Mercy Corps‟ criteria for diversification, or a
       certain number of households/animals.

       A number of herders observed that frequent moves do not improve their situation and that
       there is a need to orchestrate the moves so that some grass area is protected at any given
       time. The need for fencing was noted several times. One herder noted that “while we can‟t
       do anything about the weather, we can prevent desertification.” Another noted that “where
       there is no water there is good pasture” and wanted to know how to make use of these

The survey presents some limitations to understanding key issues that Mercy Corps
programming grapples with: is there a link between number of animals and success?
When does a herder decide to abandon herding and move into another activity? What is
the maximum number of animals a successful herder can have before the price of labor,
desertification, etc. become too great? How much income or financial “comfort” does a
herder need before he/she can afford to start up a new business? In Mongolia, long
distances and the geographic dispersion of the target population make any kind of
surveying very time-consuming. In addition, survey design and database management
issues made it difficult to provide complete answers to these questions; nevertheless, the
survey may provide elements of an answer as well the building blocks for future
investigation on specific topics.


This assessment is a first step in the clear depiction of Mongolian herders‟ socio-
economic conditions, risk management techniques, cooperative dynamics and strategies
for the future. The results will be useful for informing current projects, increasing the
effectiveness of interaction between Mercy Corps staff and herder clients, as well for
guiding future organizational programming.

If possible, the survey should be replicated on a regular basis (for example every two
years), in order to maintain an up-to-date database on herders‟ livelihood, as well as, for
Mercy Corps staff, a good understanding of Mongolian herders, their opinions and ideas,
worries, and strategies for success.


                                   Appendix 1
      Limitations of Methodology and Recommendations for Future Surveying


   None of the former Mercy Corps clients‟ second businesses are going well, if at all
   In the cooperatives, women tend to be more involved than men; women also find
    more value in working with Mercy Corps on a second business. Men want assistance
    with improving their herds and obtaining capital to be used towards increasing the
    size of their herd
   Generally, women are more aware and comfortable to talk about food consumption in
    the house, whereas husbands knew more about assets, income, loans, group
    dynamics, etc.

General survey recommendations:

   Carry out the survey in the winter or summer; not during the busy spring and autumn
   Pick names of Mercy Corps clients out of a hat or through another random method. It
    seemed in several provinces that selection was biased toward more successful herder

Improvements to the questionnaire:

   “Current MC client" and "previous MC client" can be combined into one question:
    (1) current client (2) previous client (3) never been a client months
   Please refer to Denise Wilkins‟ 05/06 Memo.

                                      Appendix 2
                                   Survey Instructions


Introduction and Purpose
We are conducting a survey to help us learn more about Mercy Corps and non-Mercy
Corps herders.

The goals of this survey are to:

   Evaluate standard of living and relevant factors among entire population of herders
   Evaluate the dynamic of the cooperatives, both successful and not
   Evaluate the economic impact on herders of forming cooperatives
   Determine the extent of vulnerability of herders to external shocks (weather, market
    prices, etc.) and whether or not there is now a model of sustainability
   Determine what herders need now

Survey Set-Up
The survey consists of approximately 100 questions. The survey is in the interview style.
That means an interviewer should sit down with the herder, ask the herder questions and
fill in the survey.

You will notice that some questions have answers with numbers next to them and some
answers have boxes to check off. Do not let this confuse you. They are two different
ways to write a survey.

The survey is divided into 2 sections.
 Section #1: Herder's Household. This section is interested in the material situation
   of each herder family. It has sub-sections about Family, Assets, Livelihood, Access to
   Land, Agricultural Activities, Access to Markets, Food Security/Dietary Diversity,
   and Savings, Investment and Debt. There are also questions on Risk Management and
   Future Outlook.

   Section #2: Business/Group Dynamics. This section is for those herders who are
    involved in a Cooperative or Herder Group, whether or not they are a Mercy Corps
    client. The questions focus on how the herder group/cooperative functions and what
    benefits the individual herder is receiving. Sub-sections include: General, Respondent
    Information, Involvement with Mercy Corps, Cooperative Dynamics, Business Plan
    Development and Use, and Cooperative Financial Details and Benefits. There are also
    questions on Sustainability/Future Prospects of the Cooperative or Herder Group.

For herders who do not belong to a Cooperative or Herder Group, you will ask only the
questions in Section #1. For those who are Cooperative or HG members, you will ask
questions from Sections #1 and #2.

Selecting Herders to Interview
The Herder Socio-Economic Household Survey will be most useful if we can talk to as
many different types of herders as we can.

Please choose about 20 herders to survey. In order to make sure that herders in many
different situations are interviewed, please make sure your choices satisfy the following

4. About 10 herders belong to a herder group and have been working with MC for a
   long time or just began working with MC recently.
5. About 3 herders have worked with MC in the past but do not work with MC now
6. About 7 herders have never worked with MC

Of the 20 herders you choose from the 3 groups listed above, please make sure that:
 About 10 herders are unsuccessful or somewhat unsuccessful.
 About 10 herders live more than 100 km away from the aimag center
 There is at least 20km distance between herders surveyed
 Most herders live at least 25km from the soum center
 No more than 2 herders are interviewed from a single herder group
 No more than 1 herder is a master herder

Conducting the Survey
Because the results of this survey will be used to evaluate the GI program, and to help
make plans for the future, it is important that the survey results be as accurate as possible.
We need to conduct the surveys in the same way for each herder. We also want the
herders to answer the questions honestly.

Follow these steps every time you conduct a survey:
1. Begin with friendly conversation so that the herder feels comfortable.
2. Thank the herder for his time in advance and give him a small gift
4. Read the Pre-survey Information on the top of the first page of the survey.
5. Conduct the survey.
6. Thank the herder for his time. Ask if he has any questions or suggestions for how to
improve the survey.

Preparing for each Interview
Please read the survey carefully before you meet with the herders. Many questions
reference a "group" or a "cooperative." If you know your herder is a member of a

partnership for example, substitute the word partnership when you see group or

If the herder is not a member of any kind of herder group, then you end the interview
after section #1.

Your Attitude
You should maintain a friendly but professional attitude throughout the survey. Most
importantly you should not have any kind of reaction to the herder's answers. You need
to be disinterested so that you will not influence his answers in any way.

Your Observations
Your observations are important. If you notice a herder doesn't want to answer a certain
question, do not force him. Make a note in the margin that he didn't answer and move on.
If a herder seems uncomfortable with a question, or if he is confused, make a note on the
survey. We will use this information to improve the survey in the future. If the herder
offers advice as to how to improve the survey, then make a note of it on the survey. There
is also a section at the very end of the survey for you to write down some observations
immediately after you leave the herder's house. Write down any thoughts you have on the
herder, his household, his answers, the atmosphere of the interview, etc.

How to ask Questions
The survey is composed of questions with suggested responses in italics. It is important
to allow the herder to answer the questions without any influence from you. So when you
ask the questions, avoid reading the italicized responses. You should only read the part in
regular font. Allow the herder to answer and then match his answer to the suggested

For example, question #9 looks like this:
     If school-age children do not attend school, why?
9   (1=needed for work at home; 2=financial reasons; 3=distance/difficulty of
    transport; 4=because of seasonal moving; 5=other) Several answers possible

If the herder thinks for a long time and cannot come up with an answer, you may read
him the suggested answers. If the herder gives an answer that does not fit with any of the
suggested answers, then write his answer in the margin and go on to the next question. If
the herder does not understand the question, make a note on the margin, and clarify the
question for him.

              Thank you for helping gather this very important information.
                          We appreciate your time and effort.

                                     Appendix 3:
                                 Survey Questionnaire


Pre-Survey Information

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today. Gobi Initiative is conducting a survey
to learn more about the lives of herders like you. We will use the information we gather
to evaluate the success of our program and to decide what kind of activities to do in the

Our survey has the following goals:
1. Learn about how herders are living
2. Learn about how herder groups and cooperatives are working
3. Learn about how Gobi Initiative has affected herders
4. Learn about how herders have overcome problems and how they are planning for the

We will keep the results of this survey completely confidential. We will keep all
information anonymous and will not share the results of the survey with anyone outside
of Gobi Initiative.

The survey will take about 1 hour to complete. I will read you the questions and I ask that
you answer the questions as honestly as you can. There are no right or wrong answers to
any of these questions. If you do not know the answer to a question, please let me know
and we will move on to the next question. If you do not understand a question, I will try
to clarify it. Finally, if you have any suggestions as to how we can improve this survey,
please tell me.

Do you have any questions before we begin?

Let's start the survey.

Location: Aimag _____ Soum _________ Bagh _________                                     Questionnaire
Number: ____


Full name of respondent: __________________________                                           Date:
Relation of respondent to household head: _______________
Name of herder group: __________________________
Current Mercy Corps client?            Yes       No
Previously a Mercy Corps client?                Yes       No


1  Gender of household head (1=Male; 2=Female)
 2    Age of household head
 3    Highest grade/diploma completed by household head
 4    Number of people living in household
 5    Number of household members over age 60
 6    Number of household members under age 15
 7    How many children do you have?
                                              Attend school/university full-time
      Number of school-age children           Attend school/university part-time
      of HH who...
                                              Do not attend school/university
      If school-age children do not attend school, why? Several answers
 9    possible (1=needed for work at home; 2=financial reasons; 3=distance/difficulty
      of transport; 4=because of seasonal moving; 5=other_________ )
                                              All of the past year
      Number of children of HH
 10                                           Part of the year
      who lived here...
                                              Not at all this past year
 11   House type (1=ger; 2=wooden; 3=brick/cement; 4=other_________)

 12   Source of drinking water Several answers possible
      (1=city water; 2=pump; 3=well; 4=stream/river; 5=pond/lake; 6=other_____)
 13   Distance (km) to Ulaanbaatar

        Ger or house...                      Number
   14                                        Number of walls of (each) ger
        (circle one or the other)
                                             Year purchased or built

   15   Radio...                             Number
                                             Year purchased

        Cell phone...                        Number
                                             Year purchased

   17   Television...                        Number
                                             Year purchased

   18   Satellite dish...                    Number
                                             Year purchased

        VCD player...                        Number
                                             Year purchased

16 20   Solar panel...                       Number
                                             Year purchased

   21   Generator...                         Number
                                             Year purchased

        Car Battery...                       Number
                                             Year purchased

   23   Motorbike...                         Number
                                             Year purchased

   24   Truck/car/jeep/microbus...           Number
                                             Year purchased

   25   Tractor...                           Number
                                             Year purchased
   26   Trailer...
                                             Year purchased
   27   Other_______ (e.g. wind generator)
                                             Year purchased
                               Sheep                                   Sheep
                               Goats                  Of these,        Goats

   28   Number of...           Horses                 how many         Horses
                               Cattle                 are breeding     Cattle
                               Camel                  females?         Camel
                               Other___                                Other___
   29   Last year (2005)'s household Cooperative/HG dividend

     income from ...                       Sale of vegetables and/or crops
                                           Sale of hay and/or fodder
                                           Sale of cashmere
                                           Sale of camel hair or animal hides
                                           Sale of livestock and meat
                                           Sale of milk or dairy products
                                           Salary (net yearly salary)
                                           Working as hired labor
                                           Pension and allowances                         x 12 months
                                           (including children's money)
                                           Remittance/support from relatives
                                           (in Mongolia or abroad)
                                           Sale of handicrafts
                                           Other activity (1) ____________
                                           Other activity (2) ____________
   In the past year, how many times did you and your family move?
     (for any reason: seasonal moving, getting to better pasture, family reasons, etc.)
     How many kilometers in total did you travel last year when you
     moved (moving for any of the above reasons)?
     How many kilometers do you travel round-trip each day to graze
     your animals?

     Do you feel you have enough land for fattening your animals?
     (1=yes, plenty; 2=yes, medium; 3=no)
   Area (in ha) of crops cultivated...               Vegetables
34   (if respondent grows crops as part of a         Hay or fodder
     cooperative, divide the total # of ha by
     the # of cooperative member households)         Other_________
                                     Area rented from other farmer
     Out of total agricultural       Area rented to other farmer
     land (ha)...                    Land with official permit/license
                                     Communal land (no land use certification)

     Do you feel you have access to enough agricultural land?
     (1=yes, plenty; 2=yes, but barely; 3=no)

     Source of irrigation water Several answers possible
     (1=none; 2=well; 3=stream/river; 4=pond/lake; 5=other_________)

     Where do you sell most of your products? (according to income,
38   not quantity) (1=to changers who come to my ger; 2=at the soum market;
     3=at the aimag market; 4=other__________)

39   How far (km) is the market you use most frequently?

     Do you sell your products in any other place? How far (km) is this?
     (0=no other place where products are sold; or number of kilometers)

     Do you ever sell your products at the UB market?
     (1=no; 2=yes, rarely; 3=yes, often)
     Means of transport of products Most frequently used market
     to market... Several answers
42   possible (1=own transport; 2=public Other market where you sell products
     transport; 3=hired transport;
     4=friends/relatives; 5=postal truck;
                                          UB market
                                           Dairy (milk, cheese, aarul, eezgi, etc.)
     In the last 7 days, how many
43   times has anyone in your              Bread
     household consumed...                 Homemade cookies
                                           Vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, onions,
                                           potatoes, cabbage, etc.)
                                           Fruit (apples, oranges, etc.)
                                           Tea (other than Sute Tsai)
     This year, in the winter and spring months, has your food supply
44   been sufficient to feed all household members?
     (1=barely; 2=adequately; 3=yes, very well)
     In an average year, when does your family experience food
45   shortages? Several seasons possible
     (1=never; 2=all year; 3=spring; 4=summer; 5=autumn; 6=winter)

46   How much money do you have on hand as of today?

47   Do you have a personal bank account? (1=yes; 2=no)

48   How much do you have in savings in your account?

     How many times have you taken out a loan                         You personally
     from the bank?                                                   Your coop/HG

                                                             You personally
50   What year(s) did you take out the bank loan(s)?
                                                             Your coop/HG
                                                             You personally
51   How much was/were the loan(s) for?
                                                             Your coop/HG
     What did you use your loan(s) for?                      You personally
52   Several answers possible (1=animals; 2=machinery or other
     equipment for business; 3=raw materials; 4=household items
     (motorcycle, TV, etc.); 5=other_________)
                                                                Your coop/HG

     How much is the interest rate on your current           You personally
     loan(s)?                                                Your coop/HG

     How much (MNT) of the loan(s) have you                  You personally
     paid back already (capital only)?                       Your coop/HG

55   How much money do you owe other people?


56. In the last five years, have you suffered a money or other problem?

       Yes...    What was the problem? (Check all that apply)
                              Poor quality pasture
                              Lack of water
                              Loss of individuals or members (moving to UB or other aimag)
                              No money to do something

                 How did you respond? (Check all that apply)
                              Took no action
                              Sought out help from local government or a project organization
                              Moved to better pasture
                              Moved to a place with water
                              Bought hay and fodder
                              Got hay and fodder from the local government
                              Got a loan
                              Sold assets

57. Have you given some thought as to what you would do if there were another zud?

Interviewer: For this question, please check the box that corresponds most closely to the
answer given by the respondent (read just the question to the respondent, not the answer

        Yes...     What would you do? (Check all that apply):
                               Slaughter or sell some animals
                               Build shelters
                               Buy fodder
                               Grow fodder
                               Move to better pasture

58. Last year, did you buy or prepare hay and/or fodder for your animals?

        Yes...     How much? (Check all that apply)
                              Enough to feed animals everyday throughout the winter
                              Enough to feed animals some days (e.g. during a heavy snow or
dust storm)
                                  Just enough to feed sick/weak/young animals


59. How do you stay aware of opportunities or new ideas? (Check all that apply)

                          Gobi Initiative                            Governor's office
                          Radio                                      Friends/family/neighbors
                          Newspapers/Magazines                       Other_______________

60. Please rank the obstacles you see to running your business. (1=main obstacle) *It is not
necessary to rank all options – only those seen as an obstacle by respondent

                          Poor sales                                 Lack of information
                          Distance to market                         Lack of labor
                          Lack of access to credit                   Money shortage
                          Lack of training                           No good partners
                          High taxes                                 Other_______________

61. Please rank the issues related to herding your animals or running your business that
worry you for the future. (1=main obstacle) *It is not necessary to rank all options – only those seen
as an obstacle by respondent

                          Drought                                    Poor quality pasture
                          Zud                                        Money shortage

                              Lack of markets                        Can't get a loan
                              "byl myytai"                           Low selling prices
                              Unqualified labor                      Lack of access to water
                              Poor quality animals                   Lack of information
                              Animal diseases                        Too many herders
                              High taxes                             Other_______________

62. Do you have ideas of ways to deal with these issues? (Check all that apply)

        Expand business or run a new business
        Work with other members of the cooperative/HG
        Use veterinary services more
        Buy fodder
        Research grants or look for help from an organization

63. Has your household situation (income/number of animals/assets, etc.) improved
within the past two years?

        Yes...         If yes, what caused the increase?
                                   Getting a loan
                                   Good weather
                                   Hard work
                                   Collaboration with GI...     How did GI help? (Open ended...)

*The survey ends here for those herders who are not involved in a Cooperative or Herder


                                              Meat production
                                              Pig/chicken raising
                                              Felt production
     Cooperative/herder group (HG)            Dairy
64   business activities                      Vegetable production
     (check all that apply)
                                              Hay/fodder production
                                              Gas station
                                              Veterinary services

65   Number of Cooperative/HG member households

     Would you say your business(es) is/are successful?
     (1=yes, very successful; 2=yes, somewhat successful; 3=no)
67 Number of years as a cooperative/HG member
                                             Increase income
     Please rank your reasons for            Get a bank loan
     joining the cooperative/HG...           Be involved in a new business
68                                           Receive training
     (1=most important reason)
     Rank just as many reasons as the        Relatives/friends asked me to join
     respondent mentions                     Do activities better than by myself
                                             Increased income
     Please rank the benefits you
                                             Received a loan
     have received from joining the
     cooperative/HG...                       Became involved in a new business
                                             Learned new skills
     (1=most important benefit) *No need
     to rank if respondent chooses "none"    Now doing something couldn't do

     Official title within the cooperative/HG
     (1=cooperative leader; 2=board member; 3=regular member)
     How do you participate in               Financial participation
71   cooperative/HG activities?
     (Write "1" for all that apply)          Daily business activities
   Why did you first start your business (before you became a GI
72 client)? Several answers possible (1=followed the example of another
     herder; 2=no other business of this kind in soum; 3=to increase income;
     What do fellow community members think of you as a GI client?
73   Several answers possible (1=think you have an advantage; 2=see you as a
     role model; 3=think they would like to collaborate with GI too; 4=think you
     are wealthy; 5=other_________)
   Are you aware of any herders following your example? How
   many? (1=not aware; 2=yes, a few; 3=yes, many)

     In the past year, how many times have you had a cooperative/HG

     Are minutes of the meetings taken?
     (1=always; 2=often; 3=sometimes; 4=never)
     Over the last year, how many times has there been active debate
     within your group?

     Over the last year, has anyone in your group suggested a new
78   idea? Several answers possible (1=no; 2=yes, a change in financial
     management; 3=yes, a change in management of the business; 4=yes, a
     change in marketing; 5=yes, a new business idea; 6=yes, other_________)

     Over the last year, how has the group responded to suggestions or
79   new ideas? (1=there are never suggestions or new ideas; 2=there is active
     discussion among the group; 3=only the leader responds; 4=other_________)
    How many people in your cooperative/HG participated in the
    development of the Business Plan?
     When was the last time you referred to your Business Plan to
81   check if your sales/activities were on track? (1=within the past week;
     2=within the past month; 3=within the past 2 months; 4=other_________)
   Who controls the cooperative/HG joint assets?
     (1=cooperative head; 2=cooperative board; 3=members; 4=other_________)

     Does the cooperative/HG have a reserve fund? (1=yes; 2=not
     currently but had one in the past; 3=no, have never had one)
     Are you familiar with which investments the cooperative/HG has
84   made, and how much money was invested?
     (1=very; 2=somewhat; 3=not at all)

     Do you receive the dividend that is due to you?
     (1=always; 2=sometimes; 3=never)
     Have you invested your own money or resources in the business
86   activities of the cooperative/HG?
     (1=no; 2=yes, money; 3=yes, animals; 4=yes, other_________)
     Have your financial management skills improved since joining
     the cooperative/HG? (1=yes; 2=no) If yes, please explain
     Have your management skills improved since joining the
     cooperative/HG? (1=yes; 2=no) If yes, please explain
     Have your marketing skills (i.e. skills related to advertising and
     marketing your product, knowing your competitors, determining prices, etc.)
     improved since joining the cooperative/HG? (1=yes; 2=no) If yes,
     please explain

     Have your technical skills (i.e. skills related to being a better herder,
90   manufacturing a new product, being able to repair machinery, etc.) improved
     since joining the cooperative/HG? (1=yes; 2=no) If yes, please explain
     Do cooperative/HG members benefit equally from cooperative
     investments in machinery? (1=yes; 2=no)


92. If needed, could you personally get bank financing without the assistance of Gobi
Initiative or another organization?

       No...        Why not?
                                 Lack of collateral
                                 Can't afford higher interest rates

93. How would you evaluate GI's work with herders and herder businesses? Is there
anything you think GI should do differently to improve the work? Anything GI should
start doing? (Open ended...)

94. Do you think your group work will keep going in the future? Why, or why not?
(Open ended...)

                                      THANK YOU!




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