DPRK Monthly Update - Sep 2003

Situation Report
Originally published

Pipeline and Resourcing
The Republic of Korea contribution of 100,000 mt of maize had all arrived by the end of September. About 15,000 mt of this was used to repay the Government for cereals borrowed since the start of August. That loan enabled WFP to reinstate distributions to all vulnerable group (VGF) beneficiaries from 1 August.

Despite the availability of the RoK maize, pipeline constraints affected all Local Food Production operations throughout the country. Sugar and wheat stocks ran out at most facilities as the arrival of confirmed contributions was delayed.

Cash contributions from the governments of Italy (EUR 3 million), Sweden (USD 1 million) and Canada (USD 165,000) are being used to purchase 19,000 mt of wheat in China for delivery by mid October. This will allow most WFP-supported Local Food Production facilities to operate through December. Cereal distributions to the most vulnerable groups should also continue into the new year with the expected arrival in early December of 40,000 mt of wheat from Russia. However, there will again be a cut in distributions to elderly beneficiaries and caregivers in child education and health institutions from late October.

Also in September, a contribution of USD 390,000 was received from Finland. This will be used to purchase sugar in the region.

Pipeline shortfalls of about 125,000 mt are projected for the six-month period October 03 - March 04. This includes cereals (100,000 mt), pulses (10,000 mt), CSM (10,000 mt), sugar (2,000 mt) and oil (3,000 mt).


The FAO-WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, in-country 23 September to 04 October, completed assessment of the main harvest for the marketing year November 03 - October 04. The mission visited 28 cooperative farms in North and South Pyongan, North and South Hwanghae, Kangwon and South Hamgyong provinces. Kenro Oshidari, Deputy Regional Director, and Joan Fleuren, Senior Programme Adviser, participated from the WFP Asia Regional Bureau in Bangkok.

Prior to the mission the DPRK Country Office conducted numerous Focus Group Discussions with the elderly and cooperative/state farmers and workers in South Hwanghae and South Hamgyong provinces. This was aimed at better assessing household food security issues. The CFSAM report is expected to be released before the end of October.

Operational Review

By the end of September the maize harvest was complete in most provinces and threshing had already begun. The rice harvest starts in early October in most areas. The autumn and winter wheat and barley are currently being sown in the fields. Other agricultural activities include management of vegetable production and repairing of tools, equipment and stores for the paddy harvest. Government food rations provided through Public Distribution Centers (PDCs) in September remained at 380 grams/person/day throughout the country. This ration will be reduced to 300 grams in October due to a shortage of food stocks in the country just before the main harvest.

With the arrival of the RoK maize and other contributions of pulses, child institutions on the west coast were able to maintain the target number of daily meals for children; 2-3 main meals and 2 snacks in nurseries and kindergartens. Monitoring visits to paediatric wards and hospitals revealed that children suffered from diarrhea, respiratory diseases and malnutrition during this period. The main cause of the diarrhea and malnutrition was reported to be inadequate breast-feeding as mothers work throughout the day and are not able to nurse their children regularly. Farmers' children are believed to be more prone to malnutrition as the mothers are active in the fields and relatively less educated than urban women. Also rural hygiene is generally poorer.

The economic reforms that began in mid 2002 appear to allow counties more autonomy in managing their resources. Food production at the county level is not being transferred to the provincial level to the extent it was in the past. Child institutions also appear to be more self-sufficient and now exchange their agricultural and livestock production (if available) for other foods on the market without major restrictions.

Monitoring and Access

A total of 369 visits to families and child institutions took place in September, slightly lower than the year-to-date average as extended national holidays (4 days) meant that local counterparts were not available. Regional teams were also involved with FFW project assessments in the month. However, emergency officers were able to conduct 4 visits per day in 22% of the 112 monitored counties. Monitoring in 3 counties was cancelled due to the national sheltering (civil defense) exercise.

Monthly Monitoring Visits

Sep 2003
Sep 2002
LFP Factories
Family visits

Access as at end Sep 2003

No Access
Total Counties

The Targeting and Field Operations Units organized a workshop for emergency officers on 11 September on conducting Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). Participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tools and household food economy analysis methodologies were introduced. Experiences on previous FGDs conducted in the DPRK were also shared amongst the officers.

The Regional Director of the Asia Bureau, Anthony Banbury, made his first visit to the country from 23 to 30 September. He met with government officials in Pyongyang and accompanied the Country Director on visits to WFP project activities in the eastern provinces of South Hamgyong and Kangwon. He also visited the LFP facilities in Pyongyang and the port of Nampo.


The FFW unit and regional teams assessed over 30 projects in September. By month end, the Project Review Committee had approved 82 of the 85 FFW autumn project proposals presented, with a total food allocation of 18,500 mt. 55% of the approved projects are on the east coast.

Project submissions from the most vulnerable counties on the west coast increased considerably compared to the spring FFW window, likely due to the FFW workshops held recently in the region. Vulnerable county coverage increased to 67% from 29% on the west. Additional project proposals are still expected for the most vulnerable counties in the east coast provinces.

Reforestation proposals from the IFAD Uplands Food Security project were also favorably considered for support under the FFW scheme. Michael Stapleton, FAO DPRK Programme Coordinator, joined the FFW Project Review Committee as a technical resource.

Local Food Production

Total production in September was about 3,540 mt,slightly under the average monthly target, due to pipeline shortfalls and delayed arrivals of inputs. Lack of sugar in the blended food factories, wheat stocks at the biscuit facilities and delayed arrival of packaging material at the noodle sites were responsible for the decrease in production.

Due to delays in the arrival of confirmed contributions of sugar, the LFP unit undertook measures to keep the factories operational and maintain biscuit production. Part of the sugar input in the blended foods was replaced with DSM (dried milk), and an additional 270 mt of sugar was borrowed from the government. In late September, sugar was excluded completely from the CMB (cereal milk blend) recipe. This allowed the re-distribution of 130 mt of sugar contributed by Diakonie (a FALU NGO), meant for blended food production in Pyongyang, to biscuit and CSM (corn soya milk) factories. The Canadian Food Grains Bank (another FALU NGO) contribution of 2,120 mt of wheat flour began arriving in September at the CMB facilities in Pyongyang and Hamhung.

Installation of the wheat mill in the Munchon biscuit factory was completed during the month, with the factory able to mill up to 9 mt of flour daily. Production of biscuits in Munchon should therefore no longer be hampered due to insufficient milling capacities.

Commodity Arrivals

73,059 mt of commodities arrived in September:

  • 2,232 mt of DSM (USA) on the MV Hunter-D was discharged at Hungam, and 220 mt was discharged at Chongjin.
  • 10,667 mt of maize (RoK) arrived on the MV Pioneer Spirit at Hungnam.
  • 20,061 mt of maize (RoK) arrived on the MV Sun Glory at Chongjin.
  • 11,725 mt of maize (RoK) arrived on the MV Pioneer Spirit at Nampo.
  • 13,286 mt of maize (RoK) arrived on the MV Pioneer Sailor at Nampo.
  • 10,587 mt of maize (RoK) arrived on the MV Pioneer Spirit at Hungnam.
  • 1,271 mt of pulses (Canada) arrived at Sinuiju by rail from Dalian, China.
  • 3,010 mt of rice (Italy) arrived at Sinuiju by rail from Dalian.

Staffing Update

At the end of September, the WFP international staff complement stood at 44 (including four international SSAs) with the arrival of three new staff members. Tzeggai Araia took up the post of Head of the Targeting Unit; Yvonne Forsen, the Nutritionist post in the same unit, while Jacinta Govindar, joined the West team as an Emergency Officer. Ndeley Agbaw, Emergency Officer departed for reassignment to DR Congo.