· A February 2011 Joint WFP/UNICEF/FAO Rapid Food Security Assessment Mission highlights an alarming situation emerging.
· 6,100,000 people, the most vulnerable being pregnant and lactating women, children under five and children living permanently in institutions, are at risk due to the interruption of food supply by the Public Distribution System.
· If no action is taken now, 88,400 children who are now moderately malnourished are in danger of becoming severely malnourished.
Given the already poor public health indicators in DPRK, UNICEF will not only address the emerging nutrition crisis, but also target underlying issues related to DPRK’s decades of chronic malnutrition.
A joint FAO/WFP/UNICEF Food and Nutrition assessment carried out in February 2011 showed that 6,100,000 vulnerable people, the most vulnerable being pregnant and lactating women, children under five years and children living in institutions, were particularly vulnerable to the foreseen interruption of food supply by the Public Distribution System (PDS) at the beginning of the lean season, thus substantially increasing the risk of malnutrition and other diseases, particularly in food deficit counties. As it stands right now, PDS is only able to provide about 50% of people’s minimum daily energy needs. Yet the worsening food security situation in the country means this will be reduced even further. Coping strategies are being stretched to the limit. Children living in institutions are even more vulnerable as they cannot rely on extended families resilience strategies.
While national prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) are currently low, should no action be taken to combat the current food and nutrition crisis, children who are now mild to moderately malnourished can rapidly become severely malnourished and decrease their chance of survival or full development potential.
Maternal nutrition is of great concern as well, as over a quarter of women in DPRK aged 15-49 are under-nourished. This greatly increases their risk of delivering low birth weight infants. Low birth weight babies are far more likely to suffer from diseases and malnutrition than babies born at a healthy weight.