WFP DPR Korea Update No. 47

Donor Alert !!!
The food pipeline for WFP's operation in the DPR Korea is at a very critical point. Starting in September 2002, WFP was forced to phase out cereal distributions to up to 3 million beneficiaries due to lack of resources. Without immediate, additional contributions WFP will not be able to reach approximately 2 million of the most vulnerable targeted populations during much of the first quarter of 2003. These most at-risk beneficiaries include children in nurseries, kindergartens and primary schools, pregnant/nursing women, elderly persons, and caregivers in child institutions and hospitals. In addition, Food for Work activities will have to be drastically curtailed, while Local Food Production factories, already beginning to slow down production, will be forced to stop functioning altogether towards the end of January.

WFP is very concerned that if it does not get the resources it needs, very serious consequences will result for these targeted groups, including increased child stunting and malnutrition.

A cash contribution of Euro 9.5 million from ECHO (European Commission) was confirmed in early January. This contribution will be used to purchase much needed cereals (expected delivery in March or April) for continued implementation of WFP activities in the west of the country. Immediate pledges of 110,000 mt are required to ensure continued implementation of the complete range of WFP's planned activities throughout the first half of 2003.

WFP DPRK Emergency Project for 2003

In 2003, 6.4 million people in DPRK -- mainly women and children -- need food assistance in spite of a slight increase in the main harvest of late 2002. A joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission carried out in September/October 2002 forecast a 4.9 percent increase in production for the 2002/2003 crop year compared to that for 2001/2002. Nonetheless, domestic production still remains well below minimum needs and the country must once again depend heavily on external food assistance.

WFP's programme in 2003 continues to target groups with special dietary needs and/or no way of meeting their minimum energy requirements and some of their micronutrient needs. These include children from 6 months to 10 years of age, expectant and nursing mothers, the elderly and those people particularly affected by natural disasters. WFP will aim to supply raw materials and other inputs to the 18 factories that produce enriched blended foods and biscuits for millions of underfed infants and young children, and fortified noodles for pregnant and lactating women.

During the year, WFP will shift its targeting towards those populations dependent on the public distribution system and who reside predominantly in urban areas. Due to concerns about the capacity of the economy to re-deploy excess labor created by a reform-induced drive for industries to become more efficient, WFP will also target the urban populations with food-for-work activities.

Operational Review

By the end of December threshing of harvested maize and paddy was completed in most of the provinces visited during the month. This activity had been prolonged due to shortages in power supplies and insufficient transportation. Many local authorities reported a reduction in total production compared to last year and identified factors such as the lack of sufficient chemical fertilizers and the drought-flood cycle in the July-August 2002 period as being responsible. In the northern areas post-harvest tillage was reportedly suspended due to heavy snowfall.

Emergency Officers observed the establishment of greenhouses in North Hamgyong province as well as some income-generating activities such as straw-bag making and basket weaving in North Pyongan and North Hwanghae provinces. Lack of adequate heating in paediatric hospitals has resulted in very few inpatients observed during monitoring visits.

Distributions of daily food rations by the government through Public Distribution Centers (PDCs) in December remained at 300 grams/person/day in most provinces, the same as in October and November. Authorities reported distribution, through the PDCs, of rice from the Republic of Korea bilateral donation and the concessional imports from Thailand.

Monitoring and Access

Monitoring coverage significantly improved in 2002 due to better coordination with the government and efforts of the regional teams. The total 5,145 monitoring visits in 2002 (4,275 of which represented monitoring of Vulnerable Group Feeding activities) was an increase of 25 percent compared to the 4,156 visits achieved in 2001, and an overall 55 percent increase from 2000.

At the end of December 2002, access was reduced from 163 counties to 162 out of the total 206 counties/districts in the country. Phanmum county in Kaesong City was declared inaccessible due to the establishment of an industrial complex in a joint venture with the Republic of Korea.

Monitoring visits in December were, however, reduced slightly compared to the previous month due to the cancellation of 12 monitoring visit days by the government -- a trend continuing from November, and the seasonal holiday period. With the installation of VSAT equipment, email communications were also improved with sub-offices. As in past years, owing to harsh winter conditions, the Hyesan sub-office in Ryanggang province will remain closed for approximately six weeks starting from late December.

Monthly Monitoring Visits

Dec 2002
Dec 2001
LFP Factories
Family visits

Access as at end December 2002

Access: 162
No Access: 44
Total Counties: 206


A total of 52 of the 69 approved autumn FFW projects were monitored by the end of December. The remaining 17 tree nursery projects (with a six-month implementation period) will be monitored at completion later in 2003.

The follow-up FFW Review Mission report, prepared by ODB following the visit to the DPRK of Joan Fleuren (November 26 -- December 3, 2002), indicated substantive improvement in the planning and monitoring of activities under the FFW programme, with previous recommendations of project selection and design implemented satisfactorily. The Mission also noted an increased openness and willingness to exchange ideas and explore innovations on the part of the local authorities. As the emphasis of the FFW programme in 2003 will continue to be on vulnerable counties with special attention to urban populations, the Mission recommended that efforts should be concentrated on seeking projects in, or around, urban centers and that the role of women in the selection process be strengthened so that FFW activities could benefit households more directly. The Mission reiterated the need to explore possible synergy activities between the VGF and the FFW programmes, and the need to strengthen the post-completion monitoring of FFW projects in order to understand the utilization and effects of created assets.

Local Food Production

With no new contributions received for powdered milk (DSM), one biscuit factory closed down at the end of December, with biscuit production in the remaining six factories also expected to be stopped from the end of January. Given the seasonal power supply constraints and inadequate stocks of raw food materials, total production in the 18 factories in December was recorded at 3,220 mt, a decrease of about 30 percent from November.

The LFP unit agreed with the government to hand over one of its seven-metric tonne trucks to the Kangwon province in January. This is aimed at facilitating the transportation of constituent food commodities between the LFP sites in that province and the delivery of processed foods to neighboring provinces.


CARITAS Hong Kong, a FALU NGO, signed an agreement with the government for the provision of equipment and medical supply kits, valued at USD 125,000, for 100 ri-hospitals in North and South Hamgyong provinces. The estimated delivery date is April 2003. In January Caritas Hong Kong will also provide 4,202 sets of warm underwear valued at USD 11,400, for the 13 baby homes in the country. ACT/Diakonie, also a FALU member, will initially provide 300 mt of fertilizer, valued at USD 52,000, as part of a total USD 120,000 grant for the provision of fertilizers in 2003.

Commodity Arrivals

A total of 20,104 mt of food arrived in December:

  • 16,876 mt rice (USA) arrived on the MV National Dignity at Chongjin and Hungnam ports.
  • 1,200 mt pulses (USA) and 124 mt oil (USA) arrived on the MV Yang at Hungnam and Chongjin ports.
  • 991 mt CSM (USA) arrived in Sinuiju by rail via Dalian, China.
  • 630 mt pulses (Denmark) arrived in Sinuiju by rail via Dalian, China.
  • 283 mt canned fish (Canada) arrived in Namyang by rail via Dalian, China.

Staffing Update

WFP international staff contingent was reduced to 39 staff members at the end of December. The end November level was 43.