Provisional 2020 DPR Korea Needs and Priorities Overview

Originally published







The humanitarian situation in DPRK is characterized by chronic food insecurity and lack of access to life-saving quality services, with profound impacts on the most vulnerable. Deterioration of critical agricultural infrastructure and recurrent natural disasters have resulted in about 10.1 million people in urgent need of food assistance. 10.4 million people throughout the country need nutrition support and food and improved access to basic services such as health, clean water, sanitation and hygiene.


Response priorities for DPRK continue to focus on food insecurity, undernutrition and improved access to basic services such as health and water, sanitation and hygiene.

For 2020, UN agencies and humanitarian partners are requesting approximately $107 million to target an estimated 5.5 million people with humanitarian assistance. The people in need (PiN) number decreased from 10.9 million in 2019 to 10.4 million in 2020 mostly due to the different methodology as per the Humanitarian Programme Cycle approach applied to calculating sector-level and the overarching PiN. There is a 45 per cent increase in the number of people targeted with assistance rising from 3.8 million in 2019 to 5.5 million in 2020, thanks to the WHO coverage expansion to children under 15. Notably in 2019, WHO targeted only children under five.

Food security, agriculture and nutrition will remain key response priorities due to low agricultural production and increasingly frequent dry spells and floods. Unsafe drinking water, poor hygiene practices and inadequate health services contribute to a cycle where the most vulnerable people’s health and wellbeing is compromised. Therefore, humanitarian interventions will continue to focus on the most vulnerable women and children, in particular, children under-five and pregnant and lactating women who represent 32 per cent and 7 per cent of the total number of people targeted respectively.

To address the humanitarian consequences for the most vulnerable people, in particular, the ones residing in Jagang, Kangwon, North and South Hwanghae provinces and Nampo municipality, the Humanitarian Country Team formulated the following strategic objectives: 1) reduce morbidity and mortality from malnutrition of the most vulnerable people with an integrated, community-based multi-sectoral approach and improve equitable access to quality essential health services; 2) reduce preventable mortality and morbidity and, improve quality of life and living standard through equitable access to safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene services; 3) build the resilience and improve the food security of the vulnerable people and communities affected by the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

The strategic objectives of the 2020 Needs and Priorities plan were developed in complementarity with the Strategic Framework for Cooperation between the United Nations and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2017-2021) identifying four strategic priorities, which the UN seeks to address at the country level, working in support of the Government programmes, namely: 1. Food and Nutrition Security, 2. Social Development Services, 3. Resilience and Sustainability and, 4. Data and Development Management.

The response plan reflects the HCT’s current operational environment, although agencies’ capacity to reach those identified in the plan with a full package of assistance will remain contingent on adequate and timely funding which has not been the trend over the last decade. The UN agencies and INGOs will continue to rigorously monitor humanitarian activities and programmes. In 2019, 1,516 project site visits were conducted over 1,047 monitoring days by humanitarian organizations, covering all provinces in the country.

The HCT identified access and monitoring of aid activities as a key issue for development, joint understanding and collective effort. The access initiative launched on 23 October 2019 is under implementation aiming at creating a coordinated approach on access; monitoring access constraints; and developing an evidence-based narrative to support advocacy and resource mobilization activities.

To ensure adequate capacity to monitor the implementation of the 2020 Needs and Priorities plan, the Humanitarian Country Team established the Results Working Group (RWG). The RWG is developing a monitoring framework to be put into implementation in early 2020.

As per the enhanced Humanitarian Programme Cycle methodology, the RWG will oversee monitoring of the implementation of the 2020 Needs and Priorities plan as well as monitoring of transformation of needs and changes in the humanitarian situation. However, the gains made with access and monitoring are at risk of being reversed if the agencies do not have the funding to implement and continue their programmes.

As access is strongly linked to operational presence, funding constraints force agencies to draw-down programming and therefore reduce their humanitarian footprint. Once access is lost, it is difficult to obtain it again.