Mongolia is the 19th largest ad the most sparsely populated independent country in the world, with a population of around 2.9 million people. It is also the world's second largest landlocked country after Kazakhstan. The economy relies on agriculture and mining mineral resources and 80% of its petroleum products are imported from Russia.
The country is high, cold and windy. It has an extreme continental climate with long, cold winters and short summers, during which most of the rain falls. In 2002 about 30% of households lived from breeding livestock.
About 20% of the population live on less that $1.25 a day.
This winter, the worst in living memory, half the country's entire livestock could be wiped out. Livestock cannot break through the ice to reach the grass and herders are incurring horrendous debt buying animal feed they can't afford.
The Mongolian government has appealed for food, medicine and animal food to help the most unfortunate, but will the world hear them with Haiti still uppermost in people's minds? China and Russia should be offering help but international agencies need to become involved as time is vital to save lives.
There is no evidence that any climate scientist predicted such a winter for the herding families who live in the remote mountain regions of south western Mongolia. But of course excessive snow shows the climate is cooling, not warming.
Update: Richard North has more research on the 'Dzud' which means 'winter disaster'. It's certainly worth a read.