DPR Korea: Floods OCHA Situation Report No. 10

Report
from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 01 Oct 2007
Floods
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
OCHA Situation Report No. 10
01 October 2007

This report on the floods in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is based on information from UN Agencies, the International Federation for the Red Cross (IFRC), Programme Support Units (PSUs), the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP).

SITUATION

1. Heavy rains from 7-14 August 2007 caused severe floods in nine provinces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), including the capital city, Pyongyang. The floods affected close to one million people and displaced nearly 170,000, with at least 454 reported deaths and 156 people remain missing.

2. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported some 40,463 houses completely destroyed, 133,732 houses submerged and 67,056 badly damaged in the floods. Furthermore, thousands of schools and hospitals and other public buildings were destroyed or badly damaged. At least 10 per cent of the total agricultural land was inundated by the flood waters.

3. The DPRK national news agency (KCNA) reported that the rainstorms and strong winds caused by Typhoon Wipha from 17-20 September led to severe damage in four provinces (North and South Hwanghae, South Pyongan and Pyongyang), including further damage to roads and rail tracks, as well as delays to infrastructure repair. The rains reportedly caused additional damage to more than 109,000 hectares of farmland across the country.

4. The DPRK Red Cross Society estimates that some 1,649 people were made homeless by the Typhoon Wipha (14,000 homes were completely destroyed). In one district, an IFRC delegate observed that a reservoir partially repaired following the previous flooding, was again affected by the recent floodwaters. Building materials for initial flood repairs were also reportedly washed away in several areas.

NATIONAL RESPONSE

5. The DPRK Red Cross Society volunteers were mobilized in the early warning phase to carry out first aid and to assist with evacuation regarding these recent rains. IFRC is releasing non-food relief items for distribution to the homeless. However, no special request for assistance was made by national counterparts to assist with the damage caused by the Typhoon Wipha.

6. The Ministry of Public Health is in the process of collecting disease surveillance data. Results from areas affected by the recent rains are expected early next week. Preliminary information indicates that the worst-affected areas were North Hwanghae and South Pyongan provinces as well as Pyongyang. Water systems were affected in some places, however no significant damage to health facilities was reported.

COORDINATED IN-COUNTRY RESPONSE

Coordination and monitoring

7. Overall cooperation with the DPRK Government at the central level under the flood response was better than under regular Agency programmes. This is noticeable with regard to the Government's improved readiness to grant easier access for initial emergency assessments, as well as monitoring and verification of aid distribution. The DPRK Government also agreed to grant visas for additional UN staff for the duration of the emergency response.

8. A good level of access, openness and cooperation on the part of national authorities was observed during UN Agency monitoring visits to verify distribution of the first round of emergency aid to targeted recipients.

9. Positive levels of communication and cooperation on the part of national authorities were observed during WFP food distribution monitoring visits to 18 out of 37 recipient counties. Food distribution monitoring visits will resume in mid-October and a post project evaluation will be conducted in December 2007 and January 2008 to measure impact and assess future needs.

10. Monitoring of emergency assistance [19 counties visited] is part of the routine monitoring of donor assistance that UNICEF carries out on a continual basis. For example, in the first six months of 2007 UNICEF staff conducted a total of 67 field visits, totalling 87 days. Most visits are conducted by international and national staff and in some cases also involve Ministry counterparts. The results of field visits are documented in trip reports, which describe findings, recommendations and follow up actions. If the monitoring visit includes the checking of rehabilitation work, a progress checklist is included.

11. The DPRK Government will grant an additional visa for UNFPA short-term international staff to carry out monitoring of aid distribution.

12. An agreement reached with the Ministry of Public Health regarding the possibility for international health aid agencies to undertake joint field visits and assessments represents a notable and positive change from the usual practice. A similar agreement was also reached with the Ministry of City Management (MoCM) regarding participation of international partners in the UNICEF and MoCM rapid assessment of flood-damaged pumping stations.

WASH

13. Details of rapid assessment of pump stations finalized between UNICEF and Ministry of City Management (MoCM) and the assessment is ongoing in 26 counties with international partners permitted to join the exercise in their focus counties.

14. UNICEF has updated a distribution plan for 100 metric tonnes of calcium hypochlorite in consultations with IFRC and Ministry of City Management (MoCM). An additional 200 metric tonnes will be procured by UNICEF, the first shipment of 100 tonnes is expected in DPRK this week. The total amount of calcium hypochlorite has been calculated to cover the needs of 5 million people over a six-month period.

15. Further rehabilitation and repair work includes installation for a new line for communal taps by PSU 2 in Yonggwang county, South Hamgyong. Spare motor parts for pump rehabilitation in the 26 counties are expected to arrive in-country shortly. PSU 3 had to interrupt rehabilitation of flooded pump stations in Dockchong county due to heavy rains.

Health and Nutrition

16. PSU 2 is in the process of distributing 4,700 First Aid and family hygiene kits, 275 child welfare kits and 5,500 hygiene kits (for Sinhun county) in South Hamgyong province. Arrival of ri level medical kits is expected within 5 weeks.

17. PSU 1 has accelerated procurement of kits for 11 hospitals with final approval of the funding proposal by ECHO.

18. UNICEF is continuing distribution of 1,125 essential medicine (EM) kits under its regular programme and of an additional 450 EM kits (150 county and 300 ri kits) under emergency response.

Over 1 million zinc tablets have been received in-country, which will be distributed together with ORS and leaflets on diarrhoea and hygiene.

19. The MUAC assessment for children aged 1-5 will be held in nurseries of the two worst-affected ri's in 20 severely flood-impacted counties. UNICEF will holding training for nine assessment teams 11-13 October. The assessment is scheduled to take place 15-17 October. Discussions are under way with regard to the scope of nutritional supplements distribution, which would follow the completion of the assessment.

20. IFRC is carrying out the distribution of regular supply of medicine kits (medication and equipment) and replenishing stocks in flood-affected areas. Supply of 'section Doctor's bags' in the pipeline for UNICEF and WHO will be coordinated between UN agencies and IFRC.

Food Security

21. WFP is receiving food commodity shipments from a number of countries for the second round of emergency food distribution, which should begin mid-October.

Agriculture

22. FAO is initiating procurement of seeds, fertilizer and plastic sheeting using the CERF grant.

INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE

23. The IFRC Emergency Appeal for USD 5.5 million, launched on 20 August, is over 83 per cent funded. Consignments of regular medical supplies arrived earlier than scheduled, reducing the need to fly in emergency health kits, and water purification chemicals were procured at lower cost than expected, therefore, IFRC is revising its Appeal to focus on the refurbishment and upgrading of about 200 clinics.

24. The DPRK Flash Appeal for USD 14.1 million is 35 per cent funded, with a further USD 4.78 million in uncommitted pledges. For additional updates, please refer to the OCHA Financial Tracking Service (FTS) http://Reliefweb.int/fts.

25. The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator approved the CERF application for USD 3 million to fund rapid response projects in the agriculture, food security, and health and nutrition sectors.

26. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int.

For detailed information please contact:

OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (Bangkok):
Mr. Markus Werne, Deputy Head of Office
Mob. + 66-8-1917-8940
Email: werne@un.org
Ms. Amanda Pitt, Regional PI & Advocacy Officer
Mob. +66 2288 1195
Fax: +66-2288-1043

Desk Officer:
(NY) Mr. Ivan Lupis, OCHA CRD
Tel. +1-917-367-2056
Email: lupis@un.org

Press contact:
(NY) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, Tel. +1-917-367-5126
(GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, Tel. +41-22-917-2653

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:

To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit http://unocha.org/.