2016 DPR Korea: Needs and Priorities

Report
from UN Country Team in DPRK
Published on 19 Apr 2016

Part I: Country Strategy

Needs and Priorities: At a glance .........................4

Situation overview .................................................5

Operational capacity .............................................8

Response strategy ................................................9

Strategic objectives ............................................. 11

Response monitoring .......................................... 12

Needs, targets & requirements ........................... 13

Part II: Needs and Priorities

Food Security (including Agriculture) .............. 15

Nutrition ................................................................ 16

Health ................................................................... 17

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene ........................... 18

Part III: Annexes

Overview of the Situation

The protracted humanitarian situation in the DPR Korea is largely forgotten on the global agenda. The country continues to suffer from food insecurity as well as limited access to health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), resulting in chronic malnutrition and poor health outcomes. An estimated 18 million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance.

Food insecurity

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has experienced widespread food shortages since the mid-1990s. In spite of efforts to achieve agricultural selfsufficiency, the country does not produce enough food to feed its population. More than three quarters of the population remain food insecure and highly vulnerable to shocks. The agriculture sector contributes up to 21 per cent (2011) of the gross domestic product (GDP) and is a major employer for a majority of DPRK's population. However, production is constrained by insufficient arable land; land degradation due to intensive cultivation without adequate landscape protective measures; a scarcity of quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides; and recurrent dry spells. These factors leave the agricultural system vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change as well as recurrent natural disasters, namely droughts and floods. In the absence of efforts to build resilient and adaptive capacities within the agriculture sector, crop production in DPRK will remain highly vulnerable to climate change-driven shocks.

By the end of 2015, the impact of drought over two consecutive seasons had severly affected crop performance. According to the 2015 Government Crop Production and Food Security Assessment, total production (in cereal equivalent) was 5.06 million tons. This is an overall 11 per cent reduction from 2014, with production losses across the provinces varying from a low of 9 per cent to as high as 51 per cent. Although the Public Distribution System (PDS) provides a daily food ration for the entire population, this has seldom reached the target level of 573g per person per day (an average figure only). Normally, the average ration falls significantly below the target due to the overall shortage of food in the country. The situation is further exacerbated by climatic variations and post-harvest losses.

The trend towards progressively more favourable crop production figures in the last decade belies DPRK's most serious food security problem – the quality and diversity of the diet of its citizens. According to UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)‟s 2015 State of Food Insecurity report, the proportion of people undernourished in the total population is 41.6 per cent in 2014-16, compared to 35.5 per cent in 2005-07. According to the World Food Programme (WFP) 2014 mid-term project review, 81 per cent of households surveyed have inadequate food consumption. According to the 2015 Global Hunger Index (designed to comprehensively measure and track hunger worldwide), DPRK has a score of 28.8, which is classified as “serious”. From a population of 24.9 million, 70 per cent of DPRK's population, or 18 million people, are vulnerable to shortages in food production. Of particular concern is the fact that the majority of the population consumes 25 per cent less protein and 30 per cent less fat than required for a healthy life, according to international standards.

Chronic and acute undernutrition

Malnutrition rates continue to be a public health concern with significant gaps remaining in nutritional intake, particularly affecting women and under-five children. Undernutrition is a major underlying cause of maternal and child mortality and morbidity in DPRK. The 2012 National Nutrition Survey states the chronic malnutrition (stunting) rate among under-five children in 2012 was 27.9 per cent, down from 32.4 per cent in 2009, while acutely malnourished (wasting) affects four per cent of under-five children in 2012, down from 5.2 per cent in 2009. More recent nation-wide nutrition data is not available.

Without treatment the likelihood of severely malnourished children surviving is low, with wasted children nine times more likely to die because of common childhood illnesses. Essential medicines and related therapeutic nutrition supplies are needed to treat severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) to avert preventable mortality.