Independent Review of the Value Added of CERF in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea


Executive Summary

1. Introduction and scope

This report is the main output of an independent review of the added value of CERF in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as part of the CERF Performance and Accountability Framework. The findings are independent and do not necessarily represent the views of the CERF secretariat, OCHA or other UN agencies interviewed.

The review aims to provide the Emergency Relief Coordinator with the assurance that key performance benchmarks and planned results are being achieved, and to assess the value added by CERF to humanitarian action in DPRK.

It is based on a two-week visit to DPRK, from July 14-25 2014. This included semistructured interviews in the capital with all UN agencies, the limited number of international NGOs present in-country, and government officials. The visit was complemented and informed by a comprehensive desk review of reports, project proposals and correspondence relating to DPRK and CERF. Additionally, field visits were conducted jointly with the agencies and local authorities for practical observation and direct interaction with the beneficiaries.

2. Context

DPRK is not a poor country in major crisis. It is however politically and economically isolated, with a chronic development deficit seen in aging facilities for health and water, serious shortages of food, petrol and essential medicines, and chronic vulnerability due to the lack of international linkages, the many years of underinvestment, sanctions, and susceptibility to natural hazards. The international presence is small and hugely underfunded, and operating under very controlled circumstances.

DPRK has received $96.8 million in CERF funding from 2007 to date, notably receiving funds from the CERF underfunded window every year. DPRK has very few international donors, making CERF the largest humanitarian donor to the country every year since 2009, representing almost a quarter of humanitarian funding in 2013, when CERF provided over $15m in grants.

3. CERF processes

CERF has met PAF benchmarks for timeliness in DPRK, and processes have generally operated smoothly, assisted by the small size of the UN Country Team. The key challenge to the CERF is a lack of reliable data on and government acknowledgement of the humanitarian needs in the country, which crystallise in the lack of a humanitarian strategy.


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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