DPR Korea: Drought and Food Insecurity Final Report DREF Operation n° MDRKP013



Description of the disaster

The harvest in 2018 was the worst in a decade and led to a difficult food insecurity situation in 2019 in DPRK. Entering 2019, DPRK experienced unusually erratic weather conditions with little precipitation, limiting soil moisture for growth in winter and the planting of spring crops, as well as replenishment of water reservoirs for irrigation. Temperatures in the spring and summer were also higher than normal. The lack of precipitation and soil moisture did not only affect winter and spring-planted crops, but also the planting of subsistence crops, as well as the main crop.

A report from the Joint FAO and WFP food assessment1 in May 2019 stated that:

• The prolonged dry spells, with erratic high temperatures and floods, coupled with limited supplies of agricultural inputs, had a severe impact on yields of the 2018 main crops harvested last September/October.

• Production prospects for the 2018/19 early season crops – to be harvested in June – were low compared to the previous years due to low rainfall and lack of snow cover.

• Since January 2019, rations of the Public Distribution System (PDS) were reduced to 300 grams per person per day (g/pp/day), compared to 380 grams during the same period in 2018. It was expected that rations may decline further during the July to September period, when PDS rations are typically lower compared to other months of the year.

• Overall, it was estimated that 10.1 million people (40 per cent of the population) are food insecure and in urgent needs of food assistance. The situation could further deteriorate during the lean season months from May to September, if no proper and urgent humanitarian actions are in place.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), winter and spring-planted crops are important for the food security in DPRK, although they account for only 8 per cent of total annual cereal production in DPRK. Crops planted during winter and spring are important food reserve and supplies until September. Thus, the winter and spring harvest is crucial to support the “lean season” summer months. However, due to the reduction of the early harvest, the food insecurity situation in DPRK was further aggravated. The drought throughout summer and in the early autumn with less precipitation than normal might increase food insecurity that will result to malnutrition especially amongst children if not responded accordingly.