DPR Korea OCHA Situation Bulletin Aug 2002

WFP has had to make severe reductions in its food distributions to core beneficiary groups during the last four months of the year due to a critical resource gap in the cereal pipeline. The following beneficiaries on the West Coast of the country will be affected by the shortfalls:

  • 1.4 million primary and secondary school students and the elderly in September;
  • 2 million children in kindergartens, primary and secondary school students, and pregnant and nursing women in October; and
  • 2.9 million children in nurseries and kindergartens, primary and secondary school students and pregnant and nursing women in November and December.

98,000 MTs of cereals are urgently needed to continue cereal distributions and to enable WFP to assist the most vulnerable population groups in the country

  • the youngest children and pregnant and nursing women. The July FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, stressed that the safety net being provided by targeted food assistance cannot be removed at this stage without a sharp rise in malnutrition and extreme hardship for the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the population.


The European Commission has adopted a humanitarian aid decision worth €4.175 million for health and nutrition actions in DPRK. The main objective is to boost the provision of basic health services for the most vulnerable sections of the population. Essential drugs and medical supplies will be provided to almost 1,800 health institutions in DPRK and 3,200 people with mobility impairments will receive orthopaedic devices and physiotherapy. Improvements to blood transfusion services, currently in a very poor state, are also being financed while 10,000 severely malnourished children in baby centres and pediatric hospitals will receive therapeutic feeding. January 2000, ECHO has provided aid worth more than €21 million for humanitarian actions in DPRK. The funds, which are being channeled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), will be given to UNICEF, WHO, Danish Red Cross, and Handicap International.


The following is an extract from the OCHA Press Release issued in Beijing on 5 August 2002 following Mr.Kenzo Oshima's visit to DPRK with WFP and UNICEF.

The operating environment for aid agencies in the DPRK must improve markedly if the international community is to continue to provide the substantial assistance required to help overcome the country's severe humanitarian crisis, a senior United Nations official warned today.

"We are doing our utmost to mobilise resources to help relieve the suffering of millions of vulnerable people in the DPRK, but we need more help from the authorities there if the donor fatigue now undermining our programmes is to be reversed", said Kenzo Oshima, the UN's Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

"There has been progress over the years and we welcome that. We have gained access to more counties. The World Food Programme, the leading aid agency in the country, now has some 50 international staff members - compared to three in 1995 - operating out of its main office in Pyongyang and five sub-offices around the country".

"But donors are frustrated and want to see further tangible confidence-building measures", Oshima said following a four-day mission to the DPRK to review the humanitarian situation and meet government officials.

A key humanitarian principle is access to assess needs and provide assistance where it is needed. This principle is compromised in the DPRK, where the UN does not have access to 43 out of 206 counties." Aid agencies seeking to monitor the effectiveness of their programmes in meeting identified needs also face obstacles, Oshima noted.

WFP is grappling with an unprecedented resourcing shortfall for an emergency operation designed to feed 6.4 million North Koreans this year. In May it was obliged to suspend distributions to more than one million beneficiaries, including elderly people and school children.

"Its an extremely difficult and painful call when you have to choose between feeding hungry children in orphanages and hungry elderly people in destitute cities", said John Powell, WFP's Regional Director for Asia, who accompanied Oshima to the DPRK.

Recent pledges of food aid will allow distributions to some of those affected by the cutbacks to resume shortly, Powell said, but added that WFP needs further contributions of nearly to be able to feed all hungry people on its books for the remainder of the year. (98,000 MTs of cereals as at 1 September) He welcomed the DPRK's authorities' "unequivocal commitment" to a nutritional survey due to be conducted soon by UNICEF, WFP and the government. "A credible, scientific survey will enable us determine the impact food aid has had in recent years and better target future assistance. Its crucial to improving the quality of the programming of all aid organisations in the country."

The last such survey, carried out in 1998, revealed high rates of wasting (16 per cent) and stunting (62 per cent) among children under seven years.

Oshima disclosed that during his visit the DPRK government had agreed to allow satellite communications for UN agencies, and coordinate with them on the emergency medical evacuation of international personnel by air.

Relief assistance needs to give way to a development process as soon as possible, he said. "There will be no significant improvement in the humanitarian situation unless there is a sustainable improvement in the DPRK economy. To this end, it is necessary to create an enabling environment for rehabilitation and development programming."


Heavy rains reportedly flooded fields in most of the provinces in the first week of August. Government officials in the South Hwanghae and North and South Pyongan provinces reported extensive damage. Flooding in about 90,000 hectares of paddy and maize fields, along with destruction of houses and damaged roads and bridges due to landslides and floods, were reported.

At the end of August, Typhoon Rusa also caused damage to coastal areas in the Kangwon province. Initial government reports indicate some flooding in paddy fields and damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges, and extensive loss of residential dwellings. Actual damage to main crops caused by these rains will be assessed when the next FAO/WFP Assessment Mission, scheduled to arrive in the DPRK in the last week of September, prepares its own estimates of the main crop.

OCHA Situation Reports on both natural disasters are available on www.reliefweb.int, or via email from the OCHA Office in the DPRK (ocha.dprk@wfp.org).


Joint DPRK Red Cross and Federation assessment teams went to Anju city on 5 August and to Kaechon and Dokchon on 6 August to assess the scale of damage and the actual needs of affected people. Other team assessed the disaster scale in South Hwanghae province on 6 August.

The assessment identified requirement to commence a relief operation is to meet the most elementary household requirements for some 22,500 women, men and children affected by the floods in South and North Phyongan Provinces, Kaesong City and South Hwanghae Province.

Immediate needs, which were met primarily from disaster preparedness stocks, included the supply of non-food relief items including first aid kits, water and sanitation materials, and blankets and cooking sets.

Anticipated later needs will focus on continued delivery of non-food and medical supplies, as well as maintaining and increasing the operational response capacity.

The preliminary appeal sought CHF 903,000 (USD 599,935 or EUR 619,026) in cash, kind and services to assist 22,500 beneficiaries for four months. Donations by the Swedish Government, and the Red Cross societies of Monaco, Japan and Finland have reduced the outstanding appeal amount to CHF 822,717.

For further details please contact Aurelia Balpe, Federation Desk Officer; phone: 4122 730 43 52; email: balpe@ifrc.org


Emergency Nutrition Rehabilitation of Severely Malnourished Children

UNICEF and the European Community Humanitarian Organisation (ECHO) signed a contract for a nine-month Emergency Nutrition Rehabilitation of Severely Malnourished Children project for a total value of Euro 655,000. This funding is a contribution towards the UNICEF Consolidated Appeal Project and will support the nutritional rehabilitation of 10,000 young children admitted to provincial paediatric hospitals in all provinces.

Immunisation Programme EPI

During August, field visits showed that although there is still a need for some additional cold chain equipment, many health clinics and hospitals have already received partial or total replacement equipment over the past three years.

Priority will now be given to ensuring that gaps are identified, through better equipment inventory, and that the capacity of health staff to maintain and operate the equipment is increased.

UNICEF will provide technical assistance to the national programme for improving the cold chain for six months, starting in November, and funding needs for cold chain equipment in 2003 have recently been revised downwards.

Annual provision of cold chain equipment through NICEF has been up to US$ 1 million annually since the onset of the emergency programme. Four senior staff of the Ministry of Health's national immunisation programme will visit China and Vietnam in early September to review the organisation of the EPI services in those two countries.

This study visit is part of the longer-term programme for capacity building of the national EPI team. An UNICEF project officer will accompany the team.

Nutrition Survey Update

Planning for the upcoming national nutrition assessment, to be implemented jointly by the Government, UNICEF, and WFP, is now well under way. On August 22, the Government, UNICEF, and WFP signed the Protocol for implementation of the Nutrition Survey after long negotiation.

Training for field survey teams will take place between 24 September and 4 October. Technical assistance for the survey is provided by the Institute of Child Health, London, in collaboration with the National Health Foundation, Thailand.

Data collection, to take place in October, will be conducted by joint UNICEF-WFP-Government teams in accessible counties in 10 of the total 12 provinces. Chagang and Kangwon provinces are excluded for statistical reasons - less than 80% of the population live in accessible counties in these two provinces.

The descriptive analysis of the Survey will be completed by the end of the year, after which the data sets will be handed over to UNICEF and WFP. The results are expected to highlight the different situations in the DPRK provinces, along with an assessment of the nutrition status in the country as a whole.

As a follow-up to the Nutrition Survey in 1998, an assessment will also be made of the impact of international food aid to the country in recent years. Preliminary results from the survey, the first national survey with international participation since 1998, are expected to be available before the end of the year.


Food-For-Work Update

Out of 72 project proposals submitted for the autumn season, 44 (61%), with a total commitment of 12,750 MTs cereals, were approved by the first Project Review Committee for this season. Due to lack of sufficient cereal contributions for the EMOP, 14 project proposals on the West Coast had to be shelved.

A further 14 proposals, all on the East Coast, are currently being assessed by the FFW unit and Emergency Officers. The Unit expects to receive the last batch of autumn project proposals for East Coast provinces by mid-September.

About 7,250 MTs of cereals will be allocated to this last batch and would complete the 20,000 MTs reduced target for FFW projects for the autumn window. Two UNICEF water supply projects will also be supported with WFP food assistance. These are located in the Kangwon and South Hamgyong provinces.

Local Food Production

LFP production in August continued at target levels, at about 6,000 MTs. At least half of this total production includes Corn Soya Milk & Cereal Milk Blend (CSM/CMB). Nursery children receive locally produced Corn Soya Blend a nutritious food high in energy, protein and micronutrients. The CSB is delivered directly to nurseries where it is mixed with oil and sugar to make a highly nutritious porridge for the children and served with vegetables.

Milling factories close to the LFP, facilities have begun to mill wheat to ensure an uninterrupted supply of flour to biscuit and CMB production sites. Current stocks of wheat flour will be consumed by mid-October. Shortage of maize contributions remains a problem for CSM production. After September, when maize stocks run out, the Pyongyang CSM factory will be converted to produce CMB. Such a conversion will take place later in the other CSM factories if no maize contributions are received.

The ADRA bakery in Pyongyang received its second allocation of WFP wheat, vegetable oil, Dried Skimmed Milk and sugar, while the Rice Milk Blend factory in Pyongyang received the first shipment of the ADRA-donated full cream milk powder.

FALU support to WFP Local Food Production.

On 1 August, the fourth batch of 1,148 MTs of wheat flour from Canadian Food Grains Bank arrived in Sinuiju as the last shipment of 7,006 MTs of wheat flour to be allocated to the Local Food Production of high energy biscuits, CMB and noodles. An additional 500 MTs have been ordered from CFGB and will depart Canada in early October with an estimated arrival time in DPRK on early November.

CFGB is providing 7.2 MTs of vitamin premix and 21.6 MTs of mineral premix, to be allocated to support the WFP Local Food Production activities, have been shipped from Europe and are now expected in DPRK by early September. Total value of this consignment is approximately $US174, 000. ACT/Diakonie is also contributing to the LFP activities for the fortification of blended foods with 4 MTs of the vitamin premix and 12 MT of the mineral premix. Arrangements for shipping have been made in collaboration with CFGB in order to achieve same day delivery at final destination in Pyongyang around early September. Total value is approx. $US105,000.

FALU is a unit within WFP funded by the consortium of four non-resident NGOs (Action by Churches Together, Canadian Food Grains Bank, Caritas, and World Vision International), which implements projects on their behalf. Most projects are focused on assistance to food-insecure groups. This enables a complementary approach for the implementation of the CAP, and excludes duplication of effort and resources in the food aid sector.

Other Expected Shipments - FALU

CARITAS in collaboration with Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) ordered 1,800 MtS of rice for children in baby homes and nurseries in Ryanggang, North and South Hamgyong province. ETA in DPRK is 12/14 September.

Public Distribution System

Distributions of daily food rations by the government through the Public Distribution Centres (PDCs) in August remained at 300 grams/person/day. Some provinces provided additional alternative food and vegetables to the most vulnerable families.

With the changes in prices and wages, local authorities, as reported, closely monitor workers in non-active or nonoperational factories in order to deploy them for public works and services (e.g. road maintenance, excavation of streams etc.) WFP Emergency Officers continue to monitor the impact of increases in food prices and wage levels.


At the end of August, ROK stated that it would start sending part of the 400,000 MTs of rice to DPRK on 19 September, with the whole amount to be shipped over the next five months. ROK, which enjoys a huge rice surplus, had agreed to send the rice on credit.

The first 5,000 MTs shipment of rice will be made from the ROK port of Mokpo. All shipments will be made between September 2002 and January 2003.

This will require more than 50 separate shipments. This assistance is a bilateral loan and will not be channeled through WFP. DPRK is obliged to pay for the rice over 20 years, starting 10 years after receiving the rice supplies and at an interest rate of one percent.

The price agreed was US$265 per tonne, on a cost-insurance-freight (CIF) basis. (Source: Reuters)


CESVI distributed kitchen sets to 14,419 children attending nurseries and kindergartens in Ichon and Sepho counties, Kangwon Province. Stainless steel bowls dishes and spoons were included in the sets.

The German Government and Italian private donations funded the project. 50 sets of summer sport suites donated by the Vietnam Government were also distributed to Sin Hum Ri nursery and kindergarten in Ichon county. The monitoring was completed in August.



Triangle Generation Humanitaire

The feasibility mission for environmental protection and reforestation, undertaken for both Triangle and Concern NGOs will be ready in early September. Materials were delivered on 29 August for the Taedong County Nursery rehabilitation (South Pyongyan Province). A suitable irrigation system will be implemented and tested.

Concern WorldWide

Preparations are ongoing for the upcoming training visit to Shenyang and Dandong, China. Four participants from cooperative farms from four counties and two FDRC staff members along with the project manager and a Concern local staff member are leaving in September for a 7-day training visit on nursery management.


Triangle Generation Humanitaire

During August, training sessions were organised on eight co-operative farms (South Pyongyan Province) for the ECHO funded water and sanitation project. Technical papers were written by the project manager and distributed to the technicians. Materials are expected to arrive in the Nampo's port in early September.

Concern Worldwide

PVC and PE pipes for the rehabilitation of the urban and rural water systems were ordered during the month and are due to be delivered to Pukchang County in early September. A workshop was undertaken with the rural water technicians to discuss the tank designs and the detailed work that needs to be carried out at each site.


Within the CESVI water and sanitation programme in Kangwon Province, which is funded by ECHO, SIDA and OCHA, the main procurement phase of goods for the water supply systems has commenced.

Items include: construction materials, cement and iron bars, centrifugal pumps and hand pumps, transformers and electrical materials, U-PVC, HDPE and DI pipes, fittings, valves and water meters. The anti-epidemic stations will receive new equipment: incubators, autoclaves, portable PH-meters, analytical and electronical scales, microscope, spectrophotometer, laboratory glasses and water sample bottles.

Due to additional funds remaining from the ECHO and SIDA projects, the extension and completions of all the water supply systems rehabilitation up to the taps is now being planned and designed. The next and final procurement phase will then start in September together when the main construction and rehabilitation work commences.


Republic of Korea - Bilateral Fertiliser Donation

At the end of August, it was announced that the ROK Government would provide 100,000 MTs of fertiliser to the DPRK. Urea and compound fertilizer worth 30 billion won ($23 million) would be delivered via South Korea's Red Cross and may also include additional fertilizer for winter crops. The first shipment is expected to arrive in DPRK in mid-September. (Source: JoongAng Ilbo)

National Fertiliser Availability Enhanced

This recent ROK donation brings the total known donations of fertiliser to DPRK in 2002, to 426,484 MTs (excluding commercial imports and domestic production). 300,000 MTs of this fertiliser was provided by the Government of the ROK, of which 100,000 MTs will arrive during the upcoming winter period. 123,785 MTs has been provided by the EC's AidCo Food Security Unit. The EC has stated that it will continue to support the provision of this essential agricultural input in 2003.

Within the Consolidated Appeal framework, FAO has also provided fertilisers. Donor funds have been used to purchase 2,699 MTs fertiliser in support of the FAO/UNDP projects designed to assist with the winter and spring crop production under the Government's AREP Programme.

Impact of Fertiliser on Agricultural Production

The July FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission showed that there has been some recovery in agricultural production in 2001/02. An essential component required for the sustained recovery of agriculture being the supply of fertilisers. Most of which is currently being supplied with international assistance.

The report also noted that obsolete and decaying farm machinery and irrigation facilities need rehabilitating, and the adequate and timely supply of key inputs needs to be ensured on a regular basis. According to the FAO and WFP report, more fertiliser alone is not likely to result in sustainable improvements in agricultural productivity. The intensive use of fertilisers and pesticides on mono-crops has negatively affected soil nutrient levels, as well as allowing a significant build-up of pests.

The July FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission Report stated that 'other innovative, environmentally non-degrading agricultural techniques such as total soil fertility management with green manuring, alternatives to chemical fertiliser, crop rotations, etc. need to be put into practice. In this regard, increased assistance from the international community is needed towards rehabilitation of industries, infrastructure, and the agricultural sector.'

In the CAP Agriculture Response Plan for 2003, which is currently being formulated, the Inter-Agency Agricultural Working Group has endorsed the FAO/WFP observations by developing new approaches, and importantly low-cost strategies, which will seek to complement substantial bilateral assistance in the sector.

The 29 July FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission Report is available on the Internet as part of the FAO World Wide Web (www.fao.org) at the following URL address: http://www.fao.org/giews/

CESVI - Food Security project in Kosan County Kangwon Province)

The EuropeAid funded project in Kosan County, Kangwon Province, is at its third and final phase. During the last period a 7-ton lorry was provided to the county for transportation of both agricultural inputs and products. The project also assisted the seven co-operative farms by providing them with 410 MTs of urea. The project also arranged a workshop on Soil fertility, plant nutrient application and crop rotation", which was carried out for the farmers of the seven cooperatives.

The project will end on the 4th of September.


Building national capacity on best health practices and health policy development are important objectives for WHO in DPR Korea. This is done through in-country training by international experts, support for national technical consultations, organizing inter-country meeting among countries in the region and sending medical professionals in DPR Korea for training to other countries in the region.

As DPRK has in the past had limited contact with other countries; there is a great need to update the knowledge on best practices in medicine, health care and public health. Medical education has also been suffering because of lack of financial resources as well as the limited access to international information in health and medicine. The assistance by international agencies in recent years has provided an opportunity for a stronger dialogue on technical and policy health issues. Fellowships can strengthen the knowledge and skills of Korean health professionals, and provide exposure to best practices in health care and health system development in other countries.

Fellowships can be awarded in almost any health discipline, but priority is given to those disciplines that reflect WHO's own priorities as well as those of the country.

Around US$ 1 million is allocated by WHO for the fellowship programmes during 2002-2003.

Over 120 Korean health professionals will study abroad during this period. All the fellows go for study in hospitals and institutions in Asia, mostly in China, India, Thailand, and Indonesia. The average period of the fellowship programme in the current biennium is between one and four months with various topics of health sector, prioritised by the Ministry of Public Health.

The fellowship programmes harbour various health sectors, i.e. communicable diseases such as malaria, field epidemiology, non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, gastro-intestinal diseases, cancer, urological diseases, emergency medicine, motherhood & childhood diseases, essential medicine, drug management and educational curricula development.

WHO recently officially proposed to the Government of DPRK to consider expansion of the period of fellowship to 6 - 12 months, although this will mean sending fewer fellows abroad. The purpose is to increase the educational outcome of the training abroad, in terms of technical skills and language improvement. Furthermore, fellowships should also focus on broader health topics than in the past.

Support for post-graduate international courses in public health will be a priority in the coming years. WHO encourages countries on a bilateral basis to provide scholarships for Korean doctor and nurses in public health and other major health areas.

Language is a barrier for professional training abroad, and more efforts are needed to improve language skills of health administrators, senior health personnel who are involved in policy formulation and decision making as well as other health professionals.

Earlier this year a group of medical doctors went to United Kingdom for English language training, sponsored by the British Government. WHO will try to facilitate activities that can improve the foreign language skills of health personnel.

Further information on the WHO Fellowship Programme please contact Dr. Eigil Sorensen, WHO Representative DPRK (sorensene@whodprk.org.)


Mr. Peter Rottach from ACT/Diakonie Germany visited 10 to 17 August on his second visit in 3 months. He was visiting DPRK in order to assess the feasibility of an agr


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