This year the SDC has allocated SFr. 4 million in aid for North Korea. The main aim of SDC activities is to improve the living conditions of a population suffering from famine and economic malaise, for example by contributing to food security.
As a neutral country, a member of the Armistice Commission and one of the first countries to provide humanitarian aid in 1995, Switzerland has a special status in North Korea. Even now, as North Korea sees itself politically isolated, Switzerland is continuing its cooperation work with the aim of not only promoting the country's integration in the international community and supporting internal reforms, but also, and most importantly, alleviating the humanitarian crisis facing the population.
Four SDC experts on hand
Since 1998, what began as an action to provide humanitarian aid in the form of food, winter clothing and meat deliveries, has now clearly taken on the characteristic of "aid for self-help". In the course of its cooperation activities, the SDC recognised North Korea's potential for increasing agricultural productivity within the context of small development programmes, thereby contributing, in small stages, to the development of the country's self-sufficiency and food security. In North Korea the SDC is represented by a coordinator and three agricultural experts.
Their work is facilitated by the fact that agroclimatic conditions in North Korea are, to some extent, similar to those in Switzerland, with the result that the production of seeds - maize, soybeans and potatoes - literally bears fruit. The SDC programme, which has an annual budget of around SFr. 4 million, also includes measures to improve the soil and replace monocultures with a system of "shifting fruit cultivation". In this endeavour it works in partnership with the North Korean Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).