DPR Korea: Appeal No. 01.38/2002 Programme Update No. 02

Situation Report
Originally published


Appeal Target CHF 12,413,596
Period covered: July - December 2002 (last Programme Update issued; Programme Update No. 1 September 24. 2002)

"At a Glance"

Appeal coverage: Covered

Related Appeals: East Asia regional programmes 01.69/03

Outstanding needs: None

Update: Donor response to the Federation appeal has been excellent and has enabled the local national society to mount effective ongoing support to vulnerable people. The scale of the problem in DPR Korea is such that long term engagement on a massive scale will be required to ensure those in need retain assistance.

Operational Developments:

The operational environment has been quite stable in the period, in spite of great events in the country. Tension on the Korean peninsula has risen greatly recently.

While July was dominated by economic reforms, the 2 months of August and September was a Grande Parade of highlights. The most beautiful one was the scene where two young Koreans, one from the North and one from the South, approached each other through a newly opened gate in the Demilitarized Zone where the railroad track is to be reconstructed after nearly 50 years of disruption. Bringing a rose and embracing each other, they symbolized the new hopes for reunification of the two Korean states.

Later summits between DPRK and Russia and DPRK and Japan were conducted. The first resulted in an agreement of reopening the railway connections between South Korea and Russia both on the west and east coast. Road connections are also planned to be opened.

A visit by the Japanese prime minister on September 17th resulted in a joint declaration to work towards normalization of the relations between the two countries. Later developments revealed that the past is far from forgotten, and new setbacks were faced.

The economic reforms which were introduced as of July 1st, 2002, are carefully being assessed by the international humanitarian community. The situation is not clear, whether the vulnerability in the population will change, or in which way. Focus has been put on the heavily industrialized areas in the northeast.

The results from the National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Institute for Child Nutrition, UNICEF and WFP, are not published yet. The reports so far say that the survey has been carried out smoothly and with sufficient technical standard, so that the results are expected to have a high level of credibility.

The main FAO-WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission was in the DPR Korea from September 24 to October 5, 2002. Based on field visits and food security assessments, the report (released October 28) noted that, "... despite the recovery in agricultural production in 2001 and 2002, domestic production still fell well below the minimum food needs. The country would again have to depend on substantial external food assistance, as its capacity to import commercially remained highly constrained".

The 2002/03 cereal production is forecast at 3.84 million tons. This will be the best harvest since 1995/96 and is 4.9 percent larger compared to last year's revised estimate. Factors behind this include favourable rains, provision of fertilizer and pesticides through international assistance, timely availability of seeds and mobilization of government resources on a priority basis to the agriculture sector. The cereal deficit in the crop year 2002/03 (November/October) is estimated at 1.084 million tons.

The Chief Executive Director of WFP visited DPR Korea November 12. - 16. He focused on the difficult funding situation for the DPRK operation, which so far has forced WFP to scrap their support to about 3 million beneficiaries and by end of the year looked even more dire towards the lean season in the spring. Some food aid from China and the Republic Of Korea is distributed through the Public Distribution System. The aid from ROK is channeled through the Red Cross on a bilateral basis.

Before the WFP funding crisis started, hospital started to report on some improvements in the nutritional status, for instance a general increase in birth weight.

In the second week of August severe floods hit the western part of the country and the Typhoon Ruusa hit the peninsula on August 31/September 1. While South Korea was most severely affected, Kangwon province in DPRK was also quite seriously impacted. Some of the counties were also among the most affected in last years floods on the East Coast. The DPRK Red Cross reacted swiftly and efficiently to both disasters, and it is most probable that previous DP training in the provinces contributed to a reduced number of deaths this year, as compared to earlier disasters.

The winter cold reached the Korean peninsula already early November. Apart from increasing the hardship for the Korean people, both those working in the ice cold paddy fields harvesting the rice crops and those less healthy suffering in unheated hospital building as well as the victims of the floods and typhoons in August and September rebuilding their destroyed houses, it was a reminder of how unpredictable nature is, and that meteorological events far away influences the daily life and also the Red Cross operations in DPR Korea.

Distribution of coal to health institutions attempted to relieve the situation a little.

The cooperation between ROK Red Cross Society and DPRK Red Cross Societies to facilitate visits between families separated by the Korean war, continues. The DPRK Red Cross and the ROK Red Cross agreed on a permanent site for separated family meetings in a meeting in Mt. Kumgang September 8. Another meeting of families separated since the Korean War was conducted in Mt. Kumgang September 13 - 18.

Disaster Preparedness

Objective 1

To further improve DPRK RC disaster preparedness and post disaster response structures and systems.

  • The ability of the DPRK Red Cross Society to respond to disasters has been greatly enhanced by the ongoing disaster management programme supported by the Federation.

  • The established DP/DR working group meets quarterly at national and provincial level Meeting held in February, May and September. DP working group meeting held on 13 September at Red Cross DP operational center. The meeting was participated by all the members of group. The DP working group meeting also participated by visiting DP Review Team. The meeting was emphasized to have similar kind of working group in provincial level and have significant progress on confidence building process in future.

  • No provincial level coordinated contingency plan was developed to date. Progress delayed by disaster response activities in August and lack of provincial DP officers in place.

  • The programme has managed to reach its target of stockpiling 12,000 family packs earlier this year, but has since distributed some 6000 of those over the of August/September in order to respond this year flood, which was replenished by the end of the year. An additional 3,000 family packs were added into stockpiling by utilizing the DFID fund 2001/2002 for DP programme through British Red Cross.

  • Established one central warehouse and five regional warehouses containing essential relief supplies ready for distribution in the event of a disaster.

  • Developed agreed operational procedures for disaster response.

  • Started to implement disaster preparedness activities at community level.
Such activities have enhanced both the speed and efficiency of the DPRK Red Cross response to disasters, as was demonstrated following heavy rainfall in the western provinces of DPRK in August 2002.

In October 2002 a review, supported by the British Red Cross Society, of the activities of the Disaster Management programme to date was carried out. The conclusions of the review were that in the last two years that programme has made a significant contribution to developing the capacity of the DPRK Red Cross to respond to disaster events. The programme has also been successful in defining a clear role for the Red Cross in preparedness and response, which is both acknowledged and appreciated by the government and the main international humanitarian actors in the country.

The review also highlighted a number of issues to be considered for future programme development, notably the need to ensure that targets set can be realised within the planned time frame and that appropriate staffing is made available by the National Society to support the implementation of the programme.

Objective 2

Further develop the knowledge and skill of DP/DR to DPRK RC staff and volunteers

  • Provided disaster preparedness and response training to DPRK Red Cross staff and volunteers at all national, provincial, county and Ri level.

  • Two senior personnel from DPRK Red Cross were sent to Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) to attend Community Based Disaster Management Course-11. The participants were Deputy secretary General responsible for DP&R Department as well and Desk officer of DP&R Department.

  • Three member NS staff were visited to the Philippine RC in December in order to enhance and exchange the knowledge of CBDP programme.

  • Three training programme were carried out in different province, on which 120 provincial and counties volunteers and staffs were trained in disaster preparedness and response within this period.

  • Because of earlier termination of DP delegate and year closing period 25 master trainers training postponed to 21-24 January 2003.

  • Disaster posters, flip charts and training materials were developed, tested and revised including CBDP manual.
Objective 3

Implement VCA in two provinces and build the capacity of DPRK RC in VCA methodology.

  • Three Days training on Vulnerability-Capacity-Assessment (VCA) was organized in Anju city. A total of 22 participants from different province and counties were attended.

  • Did not received positive response in order to carry out VCA in two province. But agreed to carry out VCA in one of the Ri of only one province in 2002 (rather than the planned). Some initial doubts and resistance to concepts because of required accessibility for VCA process.
Objective 4

Implement a CBDP pilot project in nine Ri level in one province.

  • CBDP manual for branch level volunteers, community trainers and committee members has been developed and translated in to Korean and tested in the field and revised. This manual covers training curriculum, CBDP management methodologies and teaching materials and methods.

  • In first week of October, the Federation held a three Days training on Community Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP) to which staff members and Red Cross from three counties and nine Ri of South Pyongan Province were invited. A total of 22 participants attended the training of which 18 were from nine Ris from three counties. The people attending had mixture of backgrounds in disaster management, health, engineering and cooperative farming. The main aim of the training was to raise the level of understanding about disaster preparedness at the community level, and to assist the participants in recognizing the relevance of CBDP in their individual community. Furthermore, all participants were asked to draw up an action plan for disaster preparedness, mitigation and setup early warning system. The Federation delegation, DPRK will follow up with the CBDP pilot project ri-area and with National Society in progress made on the action plan.

  • By the trained Community Trainers of respected Ri completed five round of one day CBDP training to the community people. The training was conducted by participatory by using flip chart and wall chart method. It was extremely satisfactory considering the very first time this kind of training conducted at the grass root level.

  • Local level monitoring and early warning systems is in place and mitigation activities implemented Hazard and risk mapping has been completed in all nine Ri. Procurement of equipment and materials for early warning and mitigation measures has been completed.
Objective 5

Increase disaster awareness of the population in high-risk areas through dissemination of IEC materials, messages

  • Design, testing, printing and distribution of DP poster completed but the original image and message on poster design modified by DPRK RC.

  • No progress with regards to TV/Radio spot developed, produced and broadcast. Public awareness campaigns and information dissemination is an extremely sensitive issue and has been discouraged to date.
Objective 6

Effectively implement, monitor and evaluate programme objectives, outputs, inputs and process

As per the job description and mission instruction provided to the Federation DP delegate, the programme as whole has been effectively implemented and monitored so far. A DP review team organized by British Red Cross Society has visited DPRK on 10-17 September 2002. The team reviewed the period of 2001-2002 progress and assess, where possible, the effectiveness and impact of the DPRK Red Cross DP programme and also made recommendations for the development and future direction of the DP programme. In overall outcomes of the review team considers that the DP/DR programme over the last 2 years has made a significant contribution to the capacity of the DPRK-Red Cross National Society to respond to disaster events. The programme has been successful in defining a clear role for the Red Cross both in disaster preparedness and response, which is recognized by the government and the main international humanitarian actors in the country. The Red Cross is now considered to be the leading agency in the country, working in support of the government, concentrating on clearly defined competencies, which includes search and rescue, first aid and nonfood aid assistance.


Flooding in August

The torrential rain primarily impacted on 4-5 August the western parts of the country (Kaechon, Dokchon and Anju) the main cities in South Phyongan Province and Nyongwon, Eunsan, Mundok and Sukchon. Approximately 120-227 mm of rain fell in a 3-5 hour duration, resulting in 23,000 people being left homeless and 6,681 partially affected. South Hwanghae Province, the rice-bowl of the country, was also hit by 340-380 mm of heavy rain in less than 10 hours. Flash floods from the mountains swept scores of villages in North Pyongan Province too. Similarly, floods triggered by Typhoon Rusa on 31 August and 1 September have caused damage to parts of Kangwon Province. According to Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee (FDRC), a Government body, the worst affected areas were the counties of Tongchon and Kosong, which received between 300 to 510 mm of rain, over a 5 to 10 hour period on the morning of 1 September. Flooding was made worse by a tidal surge of up to 1.5 m early on the morning of 1 September. According to the initial assessment conducted by the DPRK Red Cross and the Federation, among the thousands of affected people 2,925 people (717 families) become homeless only in Tongchon county. According to the DPRK Red Cross reports three people perished while 7,401 have been left homeless in two counties of Kangwon Province including severely affected Kosong County, which is inaccessible to resident international organisation.

The Federation and DPRK RC Response

Provincial and city/county Red Cross branches have promptly launched the response activities by mobilizing their volunteers, even though their resources are limited. First aid posts were set up in the villages along with rehabilitation sites to provide medical assistance to the wounded victims. Anju City Red Cross Branch rapidly mobilized and deployed more than 310 volunteers for the rescue, evacuation and first aid service. Some 189 people were saved by an inflatable boat run by the Red Cross rescue team, and homeless people have been temporarily evacuated to the higher ground or are sharing houses with other families.

Following the Typhoon on 31 August & 1 September, an Interagency assessment mission to Kangwon Province took place on 2 September, whereas DPRK Red Cross and Federation teams were the first to reach the affected areas. The mission, which included representatives from the Federation, WFP, UNDP, UNICEF, OCHA, and the British Embassy, inspected flood damage in Tongchon and Anbyon counties. The mission did not visit the severely affected Kosong County, which is inaccessible to resident international organizations. In Tongchon County local cooperative farms including Red Cross volunteers had reacted in the meantime by collecting from their villages food items representing two weeks food ration and distributed it to the victims. The National Society and the Federation Delegation have immediately released available relief stock from regional warehouse of Wonsan city, Kangwon Province. DPRK Red Cross working in close collaboration with FDRC in inaccessible Kosong county.

The DPRK Red Cross and the Federation Delegation decided to release pre-positioned DP stocks from the Central DP warehouse in Pyonygang and from the regional warehouses according to closer distance, to the flood victims in all areas. Allmost all distribution has been done so far except than few quantity of the items like water containers and plastic sheeting due to delayed in procurement.

  • The population affected by the torrential rain and by the floods triggered by Typhoon Rusa in Kangwon province have started rehabilitation work in their respective areas. Most people are now living in permanent or temporary buildings. Some live in crovded houses, but nobody are living in tents or other temporary shelters any more.

  • Most of the period has been busy with training workshops, CBDP program and procurement connected with the emergency response and further prepositioning of DR materials.

  • A planned visit by the British Red Cross desk officer in November was postponed until February on his request.

  • A final draft of the DP review has been received. The recommendations from the review team are now being considered.

  • Programming and budgeting for the next year had to be done earlier than expected, due to an earlier termination of mission for the DP delegate than planned. The delegate was appointed Head of Delegation in Mongolia, and to secure hand over, he left DPRK November 30. It is planned that he will be back for a two week period in January to finalize Annual Report and close the Emergency operation.
Health and Care

Distribution of drugs and medical supplies

Objective 1

To strengthen the capacity of 1762 health institutions (provincial, county, industrial, city and ri hospitals and clinics) in three provinces and one municipality to provide basic medical services.
NOTE: This number of institutions is an increase from the launch of the Annual Appeal, due to the addition of the institutions in two newly accessible counties.

The drug distribution project now covers 51 counties in 3 provinces (North and South Pyongan, Chagang) and 1 municipality (Kaesong), since gaining access to two new counties in North Pyongan province from November 2001. Starting from the December distribution for first Quarter, 2002, the Red Cross operational area now covers 1,762 institutions - 2 Provincial hospitals, 1 Municipal hospital (equivalent to provincial in service scope), 67 city/county hospitals, 87 Industrial hospitals, 300 Ri hospitals, 89 Poly clinics and 1216 Ri clinics - which are receiving drugs and medical supplies every 3 months. The total population covered in 2001 was 5.8 million, and has now increased to 6.13 million.

After reduced distribution in the 1st quarter (due to funding delays), the 2nd quarter of the year saw the introduction of the two new types of kits - basic, non-freezable supplies for 1000 people attending household doctor departments, and supplementary hospital supplies (including injectables and minimal infusion material), in May and June, respectively. Malaria medications for 100,000 cases were distributed in late June; wheelchairs (50) and crutches (200) for provincial level hospitals, stretchers (200) for first aid posts, and water filter candles(1200) to replace faulty material completed the distributions in the first half of the year.

Distribution in the second half of the year started with the completion of the distribution of the first supplementary kits, in July. Designed for 100,000 people for three months, but delivered for 6 months at a time to avoid winter delivery and freezing risks, funding constraints resulted in both delays in delivery - which should have been for 2nd and 3rd quarter, but only commenced at the start of the 3rd - and lower volumes - which were distributed according to institutional type rather than population size. The funding pipeline improved over the year, so that while the volumes remain unchanged, the second set of supplementary kits arrived in the 4th quarter - for which they were targeted, in addition to coverage of the 1st quarter, 2003 - so their distribution was completed before the winter conditions set in with the attendant concerns of access and temperature control for the drugs becoming a major problem.

The basic kits for the 3rd and 4th quarters were received with increasingly lessened delays and in sufficient volumes to initiate the creation of a small buffer stock, while still supplying the kits based populations of 1,000 people. With the 3rd and 4th quarter supplies, some kits were conserved to provide a buffer stock (approximately 290 kits per consignment). This stock is rotated out with each distribution; it has been drawn down for the winter (1st quarter) distribution to provide early, and slightly fuller, supply for areas rendered inaccessible by winter conditions; it will be made available to the health institutions involved in the prescription monitoring study, to any new counties made accessible and for emergency situations, should such events arise.

Complications in the programme delivery arose when the 3rd quarter kits, donated by the British Red Cross, arrived labelled as donations from the Danish Red Cross, and had to be re-labelled correctly at the county warehouses as distribution was initiated while the manufacturer rushed corrected stickers through to DPRK - a two week delivery process.

A further incident involved both 3rd and 4th quarter kits when the delivered aluminium hydroxide tablets were found to have an inadequate neutralising capacity on testing by the Institute for Drug Testing, MOPH, DPRK which routinely samples and analyses the medicines in the basic kits from each new shipment of kits arriving in the DPRK, before the kits are allowed to be released to health institutions. Since the inception of the IFRC/DPRK RC drug programme in 1997, there has been no reported cases of the imported drugs not meeting DPRK standards, until this incident. The DPRK findings have been substantiated by international testing in Europe. The incident is still under investigation, but of note:

1. The drugs were contributed by a subcontractor who is not involved in the provision of the drugs in the 1st and 2nd quarter 2003 kits which are now in transit, so no further problem is expected.

2. The MOPH, DPRK has utilised the DPRK RC to contact all recipient institutions on the appropriate disposal of the substandard medication.

3. The supplier is in the process of replacing the aluminium hydroxide tablets for both sets of kits, and the Red Cross will distribute as per the kits themselves when the replacements arrive in country - and after appropriate testing, of course!

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