DPRK Annual Appeal No. 05AA059

Originally published

The International Federation's mission is to improve the lives of vulnerable people by mobilising the power of humanity. The Federation is the world's largest humanitarian organisation, and its millions of volunteers are active in over 180 countries. All international assistance to support vulnerable communities seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response, according to the SPHERE Project.
This document reflects a range of programmes and activities to be implemented in 2005, and the related funding requirements. These are based upon the broader, multi-year framework of the Federation's Project Planning Process (PPP). The PPP products are either available through hyperlinks in the text1, or can be requested through the respective regional department. For further information please contact: Satoshi Sugai, East Asia Desk, satoshi.sugai@ifrc.org, phone +41227304273, fax +41227330395; or please also access the Federation website at http://www.ifrc.org.

Programme title
2005 in CHF
Strengthening the National Society
Health and Care
Disaster Management
Organisational Development

National Context

It is estimated some 23 million people live in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), where heavy flooding at the end of August 2004 and subsequent natural disasters exacerbated the already existing threats to the population's health and food security, triggered by famine, floods and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Over the past ten years the country's socioeconomic infrastructures, including the health, education and welfare sectors, have fallen into decline.

Although DPRK actively trades with a few other countries in Asia and possesses a workforce of 10 million people engaged in agricultural, industrial and administrative jobs, the country remains dependant on external economic assistance and humanitarian aid which are often in a state of flux. In February 2004 for example, food assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) targeting four million beneficiaries had to be temporarily stopped due to a shortfall in support for the operation.

The United Nations (UN) continues to voice its concern over food security in DPRK, especially for children. Although the frequency of chronic malnutrition dropped from 62 to 42 percent during the period 1998 to 2002, the malnutrition rate in DPRK remains high. Even though minimum rations distributed through the Public Distribution System in 2004 did not fall below 250g per person a day, the high variances in the amount of food rations is still a cause for concern.

The degradation of the water supply systems and failure to protect water sources from sewage and waste water has resulted in heavy water pollution, leading to a shortage of safe potable water and resultant health problems.

The government seeks to boost the country's revenue by engaging in partnerships with private companies, and recently signed a 20-year petroleum agreement to assist the development of the onshore and offshore petroleum industry in DPRK. Foreign companies have also been invited to invest in the information technology sector of the DPRK, creating opportunities to access data and the internet and sustain recent and future social and economic developments. Additionally, workers and farmers receive increased incentives through the adoption of management and pricing reforms in state enterprises and the promotion of small scale private businesses. The country is also beginning to open up culturally, demonstrated by the inclusion of popular mainstream films in the country's annual film festival and the establishment of an agency for German scientific and technical literature at the Goethe Information Centre in Pyongyang.

DPRK further engaged in three rounds of six-party talks with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States, addressing security concerns affecting East Asia and the country's international diplomatic relations.

The country, which is almost completely covered by mountains and uplands, is repeatedly affected by severe natural disasters, while the April 2004 massive train explosion in Ryongchon moreover demonstrated the country's vulnerability to industrial disasters. In 1995 following severe flooding, DPRK, for the first time in its history, appealed for international assistance. Following the train explosion in Ryongchon, DPRK once again appealed to the international community for assistance and received positive responses from the donor community and the media. The DPRK government has been receiving assistance from the international community for the last ten years, and reflecting on its experience to date, held a meeting in September with representatives from UN agencies, international non-governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations working in DPRK that addressed questions arising out of the country's continuing need for assistance and the terms and conditions attached to receiving assistance. Action taken based on this meeting could have an impact on the provision of small scale humanitarian activities in DPRK.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Priorities

Movement Context

Founded as an independent voluntary humanitarian organisation in 1946, the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK RC) is organised as a network of 10 provincial branches (the number of provinces has decreased from 12 to 10 due to changes in the country's administrative divisions) and 200 city/county level branches. The DPRK Red Cross is the largest humanitarian organisation in the country, boasting a nationwide network of 330,000 volunteers and 371,730 Red Cross Youth at the community level and over one million members.

The society's current statutes were recently revised and adopted at their national congress (general assembly) in May 2004 as an adjustment to the country's changing environment. The new statutes restructured all national society's of the governance and management levels. In addition, the congress also approved the Development Plan 2004-20103 of DPRK RC, which places vital importance on the capacity building of branches to ensure sustainable development of the national society despite harsh economic times in DPRK, constrained domestic fundraising activities and anticipated decreased government subsidies.

The International Federation's Secretariat has been working closely with the DPRK RC since 1995. The focus of the Federation's support has moved from emergency relief to longer-term health programmes, disaster preparedness and response and capacity building programmes to bridge the gap between relief and development. The DPRK Red Cross, however, continues to respond to disasters with the support of the Federation, most recently in response to the train explosion in Ryongchon county in April 2004.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)4 too has supported the DPRK RC since its formation with the dissemination of international humanitarian law and the Fundamental Principles. In 2002 ICRC supported the DPRK RC in establishing an orthopaedic workshop in Songrim, providing modern prostheses to amputees as well as training of orthopaedic surgeons in modern amputation techniques. ICRC is currently negotiating a second workshop to serve amputees from the armed forces.

The Republic of Korea National Red Cross (ROK RC) has also supported the society's activities and provided substantial in-kind assistance to the DPRK RC in response to the society's relief operation in Ryongchon. The inter-Korean cooperation will continue in 2005 to support families separated during the Korean War and discussions about establishing a permanent meeting place in Mt. Kumgang for separated families is ongoing.

In 2002, the Norwegian Red Cross (NRC), in cooperation with the ROK RC, commenced a tree planting programme which focused on the provision of seedlings and strengthening the capacity of five seedling nurseries. This programme includes a component of Red Cross youth activities, where members from the DPRK and ROK Red Cross societies jointly conducted tree planting and other activities. The NRC also supports various disaster management and health related activities.

In 2003, the Netherlands Red Cross started a five-year bilateral capacity building programme targeting two provincial branches, which aims to increase the capacity of the branches in human resource management and financial sustainability.

National Society Strategy

The DPRK RC development plan for the 2004 to 2010 period defines three strategic directions for development and four core areas of concentration in line with the Federation's Strategy 2010 and the Manila Action Plan.

The three strategic directions for development as defined by the plan are as follows:

  • The society will improve its emergency response capacity to provide timely and effective assistance to the most vulnerable.

  • The society will continue to market and develop specialised services and improve resource mobilisation for its sustainable development by adopting an integrated approach to disaster management, social and health care, promotion of humanitarian values and organisational development.

  • The society will raise national and international awareness of DPRK Red Cross activities by strengthening its legal base, increasing its public and media relations and improving partnership relations.

The national society's activities will focus on four core areas:
  • disaster management; · community-based health care and social welfare services;

  • humanitarian services to alleviate suffering and misfortune caused by national division; · promotion of the Movement's Principles and humanitarian values.

Strengthening the National Society

The DPRK Red Cross seeks support in 2005 for programmes in the core areas of disaster management, health and care (including water and sanitation), and organisational development with an emphasis on branch development and creating a base for financial sustainability for the society's activities.

Based on the Development Plan 2004 -- 2010, the DPRK Red Cross and the International Federation will develop an updated collaboration model (CAS). The CAS document will be drafted and discussed with the partners supporting the DPRK Red Cross in the second quarter of 2005, and should result in plans for long-term involvement and commitment of DPRK RC main partners from the year 2006 onwards. To facilitate future plans of support to the DPRK Red Cross, an integrated programme review is foreseen for the first quarter of 2005.

Health and Care

Background and achievements/lessons to date

Malaria, tuberculosis and communicable diseases like acute respiratory infections and waterborne diseases, which threaten the health of the general population, can be effectively addressed by implementing community-based health promotion activities and ensuring health facilities are well equipped with essential medicines and supplies. Although there have been no reported incidences of HIV/AIDS to date, the increasing number of cases in neighbouring countries is a stark reminder of the importance of cultivating an awareness of how the disease is transmitted.

The DPRK Red Cross, in cooperation with the Federation and the country's Ministry of Public Health (MOPH), is addressing the issue of the availability of basic medical drugs in DPRK, providing updated information on best practices to health professionals, and improving the understanding of the role safe hygiene and effective sanitation plays in maintaining good health at community level. The society also continues to carry out community-based first aid and health promotion activities in close cooperation with the MOPH. The DPRK Red Cross, with support from the Federation, is therefore looking for ways to integrate disaster management and water sanitation activities into ongoing health and care projects.

The DPRK Red Cross and the Federation, following up on recommendations made in the 2003 health programme review, agreed to gradually phase out the supplying of supplementary kits. The focus of Red Cross health activities will shift from supporting higher-level health institutions to investing more resources at the community level and training of volunteers. The DPRK Red Cross and the Federation continue to coordinate with other partners like WHO and UNICEF in acting upon the recommendations made in 2003. The good working relationships formed between the DPRK Red Cross, the Federation and organisations such as WHO also improved the society's ability to respond quickly to emergencies, demonstrated by the timely delivery of urgently needed medicines to victims of April's train explosion.

In 2005, the DPRK Red Cross and Federation health and care programme will continue assisting health institutions in improving the quality of basic medical services, developing DPRK Red Cross capacity in community based first aid (CBFA) and health promotion, improving living conditions, as well as reducing the risk of waterborne disease transmission among the most vulnerable through the provision of clean water and improved sanitation.


The health of vulnerable communities is improved and the risk of transmission of communicable diseases reduced.


To improve the health of vulnerable communities in 65 counties/cities in North Pyongan, South Pyongan, North Hwanghae, Chagang and South Hamgyong provinces (**In 2004, the DPRK Red Cross and the Federation were granted access to extend health activities to South Hamgyong province).

Expected programme results:

  • The DPRK Red Cross volunteers and community healthcare professionals (household doctors and nurses) have improved their CBFA skills, as well as awareness and knowledge of the prevention and care of common diseases.

  • The health institutions (county, city, industrial and ri hospitals, as well as ri and poly clinics) have improved their capacity in providing basic medical services to the population.

Water and Sanitation

Background and achievements/lessons to date

Poor water and sanitation systems still constitute a major threat to the population's health leaving them more vulnerable to the ill affects of recurring natural disasters (floods, tidal waves, typhoons).

In 2001, the DPRK Red Cross commenced water and sanitation activities and completed water supply systems in 147 health institutions. A long-term water and sanitation programme was then instituted following recommendations made in a review of water sanitation activities conducted in 2000 and a feasibility study in May 2001. The programme aims to construct/rehabilitate sanitation facilities, water supply and waste water collection systems, as well as provide hygiene promotion training to 1,000 community health volunteers from 100 ri/dong communities in three provinces. Activities carried out in 2002 and 2003 resulted in an impressive 38.4 percent decrease in waterborne disease cases within target communities. Some 294,610 people in 70 target communities have directly benefited from this three-year programme.

In August 2004, representatives from the DPRK Red Cross, the Netherlands Red Cross and the Federation attended a water and sanitation planning workshop held in the country. Based on the findings of the workshop, the society will initiate a new four-year water and sanitation programme in DPRK come 2005. The long-term programme addresses the water sanitation needs of rural and semi-urban target communities in four provinces, and will construct/rehabilitate sanitation, water supply and waste water systems, as well as conduct community-based activities.

By the end of 2005, around 117,000 beneficiaries in 40 target communities will benefit from newly installed/ rehabilitated water and sanitation systems, and a performance reassessment of previously installed systems is scheduled for 2005. As the capacity of the society's water and sanitation unit continues to develop, the programme will further expand according to the four-year plan.

Objective: To improve health of communities by reducing the prevalence of waterborne diseases through the provision of clean and safe water and hygiene promotion.

Expected programme results:

  • 40 water supply systems, 20 waste water collection systems and 500 latrines combined with biogas generators have been installed/rehabilitated in 40 ri and dong target communities in North Pyongan, South Pyongan and Chagang provinces by the end of 2005.

  • Water and sanitation activities and hygiene promotion activities haven been better integrated with other programmes in target communities in 40 ri and dong.

  • The capacity of the DPRK Red Cross to implement the water and sanitation programme have been further strengthened in relation to other relevant institutions.

Disaster Management (Disaster Preparedness and Disaster Response)

Background and achievements/lessons to date

The DPRK Red Cross Society faces the challenge of continuously increasing its capacity in disaster management while developing community-based disaster preparedness activities in risk-prone areas. The DPRK government and the international community acknowledged that DPRK Red Cross is a key player in disaster response in the country. The society's capacity to quickly commence the distribution of relief items to victims of the Ryongchon train explosion demonstrated the importance of disaster preparedness, and highlighted the need to continue strengthening the society's capacity in disaster management.

DPRK Red Cross branches lack sufficient resources to keep up with demands for assistance placed on the society in a country that is prone to sudden disasters like floods, fires and industrial accidents. In 2004 for example, severe flooding in Ryanggang province isolated the area, leaving no access to the area to provide humanitarian assistance.

In May 2004, the disaster preparedness adviser from the British Red Cross visited DPRK to review the progress and impact of the disaster preparedness programme implemented in 2003-2004, and made some recommendations for the development and future directions of the society's disaster management (DM) programme. Based on these recommendations, the DM programme will, in 2005, focus on consolidating the DM capacity of the national society acquired over the last five years, enhancing the quality of DM in accordance with the five-year DM strategic plan adopted at the 7th national congress, and integrating DM with health care and water sanitation activities. The community-based disaster preparedness programme will further expand to include micro mitigation activities partly concerned with reforestation and the involvement of Red Cross volunteers in tree planting campaigns.

Goal: The impact of disasters on the most vulnerable is reduced.

Objective: The DPRK Red Cross will have the disaster management capacity to provide quality services to the most vulnerable in a timely and efficient manner.

Expected programme results:

  • A disaster management structure has been built to enable the national society to play a key role in disaster response in the DPRK.

  • Integrated community-based disaster preparedness and community-based first aid projects have been implemented in 22 ris by 2005.

  • Necessary material and human resources for timely and effective disaster response have been established.

  • Micro-mitigation initiatives like reforestation have been implemented in high risk areas to prevent and mitigate natural disasters and control risks posed by floods and landslides.

Organisational Development

Background and achievements/lessons to date

The national society continues to adjust its activities, organisation statutes and policies to meet the needs created by a changing environment. The first phase of the organisation's change process resulted in a substantial staff reduction and the introduction of new ways of working, including revisions to the society's statutes. The DPRK Red Cross is motivated to address a number of organisational challenges that includes the integration of service programmes with regard to training and branch development, achievement of greater financial resource sustainability and improved communications.

Goal: The Red Cross Society of the DPRK is a well functioning national society.

Objective: The organisational development efforts of the DPRK Red Cross will incorporate characteristics of a well functioning national society, enhancing efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of service delivery at central and branch levels.

Expected programme results:

  • Branches will increasingly have ownership of the development process through integration of community service programmes and branch development and training.

  • The DPRK Red Cross has a system of financial management, budgeting, accounting, as well as motivated and effective resource mobilisation activities that lead to sustainable programmes at the community level.

  • Internal and external communication capacity has strengthened to increase the visibility of the DPRK Red Cross and the Movement as well as to promote humanitarian values.

Representation, Management and Implementation


The Red Cross Society of the DPRK was involved in inter-Korean and international activities long before the country called for broader international disaster relief assistance after the floods in 1995. Although the general political situation on the Korean peninsula remains difficult, the humanitarian situation in DPRK has shown some improvement in recent years, as international humanitarian agencies working in DPRK can now operate partly from within the country and partly from offices abroad. The Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee is a governmental body that coordinates all international humanitarian assistance coming to DPRK, including assistance through the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Within this context, the DPRK Red Cross has a degree of autonomy in carrying out operations within its mandate, while the Federation, through working closely with the national society, has a comparatively good basis to support efficient implementation and evaluation of DPRK RC programmes.

The ROK Red Cross cooperates with the DPRK Red Cross in bilateral programmes in the areas of tracing, relief, and reunion between families separated by the Korean War. Since 2002, there has been a renewal of direct contacts with the Japanese and Chinese Red Cross societies, which is partly facilitated by the East Asia regional delegation and partly funded by the country delegation in regard to travel abroad. This kind of support will continue in 2005. In 2003, the Netherlands and the Norwegian Red Cross societies established programmes with the DPRK Red Cross in the fields of organisational development/branch development and tree planting respectively, in addition to their continuous support of the Federation's multilateral programmes. The Federation delegation will provide technical support, as well as coordinate these programmes with other agencies and Federation supported programmes in DPRK. The country delegation further facilitates communication between the DPRK Red Cross and other partner national societies by supporting exchange visits, and maintains a close relationship with the ICRC, supporting activities such as telecommunication, water sanitation and logistics. The budget for the 2005 appeal also reflects the partial costs of one Asia Pacific department post in the Geneva Secretariat, which is actively involved in the delivery of the country's relief and rehabilitation programmes.

The WFP, United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organisation, United Nations Children's Fund, United Nations Populations Fund, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and 12 non-governmental organisations have resident country representation in DPRK. The food aid liaison unit, representing a further four non-governmental organisations, has been supporting DPRK for several years. Coordination between the different agencies working in DPRK is well taken care of through the Humanitarian Agencies Working Group headed by the UN humanitarian coordinator, and both Red Cross delegations are permanent members of this group, while visiting partner national societies are welcome to attend the weekly coordination meetings. The Humanitarian Agencies Working Group has technical subgroups in the fields of food security, health and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation, agriculture, as well as education.

International representation and advocacy

The Federation's country and regional delegation encourages active participation from the DPRK Red Cross in regional activities. The Red Cross and the Federation delegation cooperate closely in providing support to international delegations visiting DPRK as well. Representatives from the main donor countries residing in DPRK, including the European Union/European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office regularly attend weekly coordination meetings and visit Red Cross projects.

Delegation management

The Federation will continue to support the DPRK Red Cross through its Beijing regional delegation and will maintain a country delegation for as long as the national society requests it. The DPRK country delegation works together with the regional delegation in Beijing, exchanging technical resources in the fields of communication, relief, health, reporting and logistics.

A head of delegation, a logistics coordinator, and a finance and administration delegate coordinate and support the different programmes managed by eight programme coordinators and delegates. The delegation has until recently been fortunate to have a stable staff of both national and international delegates, which is exceptional in the DPRK context but very important in securing quality implementation of the programmes. Recently, the economic reforms implemented in DPRK seem to have led to an increased demand for skilled professionals in the country, and the importance of focused and well coordinated support to the DPRK Red Cross is higher than ever.


1 Identified by blue in the text.

2 USD 11,284,006 or EUR 8,856,783.

4 ICRC website available at http://www.icrc.org

For further information please contact:

- Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, phone +85023818986, fax +85023813490.

- Jaap Timmer, head of delegation, ifrckp02@ifrc.org, phone+85023814350, fax +85023813490.

- Satoshi Sugai, Asia Pacific department, satoshi.sugai@ifrc.org, phone+41227304273, fax +41227330395.

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