Map of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
UNICEF photo © UNICEF DPRK/2014/Tim Schaffter Handwashing Day in DPRK Korea. Children showing that their hands are clean

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

UNICEF is requesting US$22.2 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in DPRK in 2015.

In 2015, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children aged 0 to 59 months affected by SAM who are admitted for treatment


children under 12-months and 365,000 pregnant women immunized with Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) vaccines


children access schools with improved education infrastructure, including water and sanitation facilities

2015 Requirements: US$22,200,000

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Total affected population: 11 million
Total affected children: 6 million

Total people to be reached in 2015: 5.8 million
Total children to be reached in 2015: 2 million

Significant decreases in rainfall since June 2014 have led to drought conditions in four provinces (North and South Hwanghae, South Hamghong and South Pyongan) of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The drought has had a negative impact on the nutritional and health status of children under five. Decreases in access to safe drinking water has already led to a 20 per cent increase in the incidence of diarrhoea in children under five. Diarrhoea is a leading cause of death among young children and a serious contributor to malnutrition. In 2014, the total number of children receiving treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) rose by 38 per cent over 2013, and in the first six months of 2015, more than 30,000 children under five with chronic malnutrition have been treated, compared to only 26,407 children for the whole of 2014. UNICEF expects this trend to continue and worsen throughout 2015, as the effects of the drought deepen. It is imperative that UNICEF is prepared for the urgent treatment of 25,000 children suffering from SAM for the remainder of 2015, and that UNICEF has the capacity to reduce the incidence of SAM by treating drinking water to make it safe for around 1 million people. Urgent external assistance will play a vital role in safeguarding children and families whose food security, nutritional status and general health will otherwise be seriously compromised. The DPRK quarantine policy on Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was lifted in March 2015, which allowed for all programme monitoring activities to resume and normalize in April 2015.

Humanitarian strategy (July to December 2015)

Revised 2015 Programme Targets


  • 4.9 million people (including women of child-bearing age, pregnant, lactating women and children aged 6 to 24 months) receive micronutrient supplementation
  • 25,000 children aged 0 to 59 months affected by SAM admitted for treatment


  • 362,156 children under 12 months and 365,000 pregnant women immunized with Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) vaccines
  • 1,427,000 children aged 12 to 59 months dewormed twice during the year
  • 1,605,000 children aged 6 to 59 months receive two doses of Vitamin A


  • 200,000 people including school children access water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 1,000.000 people use treated drinking water and safe storage
  • 2,000,000 people with appropriate hygiene practices


  • 5,000 children access schools with improved education infrastructure, including water and sanitation facilities
  • 20,000 children benefit from early learning kits and caregiver training provided to kindergartens

UNICEF will continue to collaborate with partners to provide multi-sectoral support to the Government and seeks to scale-up critical interventions to address SAM, particularly in the most vulnerable and remote counties. Currently, there are enough supplies in country to provide emergency assistance to 5,000 children under five affected by SAM. UNICEF is planning an additional 60 Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites in 60 counties in drought-affected provinces to help an additional 12,000 children suffering from SAM. By the end of 2015, UNICEF plans for 149 CMAM sites to be operational countrywide.

UNICEF is also working to urgently address the underlying causes of undernutrition in DPRK to promote child survival and to break the inter-generational cycle by expanding curative and preventive interventions for SAM to reach all counties in all 10 provinces. Critical, related programmes supported by UNICEF include the provision of essential life-saving drugs, maternal and neonatal health, early referral and treatment of children affected by SAM to CMAM facilities, promotion of hygiene and improved sanitation, and safe drinking water. UNICEF will also continue its coordination role in the Nutrition, WASH and Education Sector Working Groups, as well as the ‘thematic groups’ within the United Nations Strategic Framework.

Results to date (1 January to 30 June 2015)

As of mid-June 2015, 28 per cent (US$6.3 million of which US$961,288 is carry-forward from 2014) of the revised funding appeal had been funded and UNICEF had achieved concrete programme results.

In nutrition, UNICEF-supported CMAM services reached 60 per cent of children with wasting and has integrated treatment of wasted children in 89 counties and three major cities since early 2015. UNICEF is supporting the management of wasted under-five children that are in institutionalised care, through the provision of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, CMAM medicines and micronutrient supplements along with deworming and training. More than 8,000 children affected by SAM have been treated since January 2015. One million people received micronutrient supplementation, including 20 per cent of pregnant and lactating women and 19 per cent of infants aged 6-24month. Fifty per cent of women of child-bearing age received iron folate supplements.

Above 90 per cent immunization rates were sustained in every county across the DPRK. Safe drinking water is newly available to 14,300 people in 23 villages, 24 nurseries, 6 kindergartens, 5 schools, 3 county hospitals and 3 rural (Ri) clinics. Five million water purification tablets, which had been prepositioned for anticipated flood emergencies, are being released to prevent cases of diarrhoea which may result from poor quality drinking water in the areas affected by the drought. Remaining resources will be used to replenish water purification tablet supplies. The funding shortfall is preventing continued action in this area. The protracted nutritional crisis has also affected children’s access to, and the quality of education services. With limited resources available, school materials for pre-school children were distributed to 13 children’s homes, benefiting over 3,000 children of pre-school age. There was no humanitarian funding received for education in 2015.

Funding requirements

In line with the country’s strategic plan for humanitarian assistance and the inter-agency contingency plan for responding to emergencies, UNICEF seeks US$22.2 million, an increase of US$4.2 million from the original appeal in January 2015, to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of children in DPRK through to the end of 2015. As of June 2015, less than one third (US$6.3 million) of the HAC funding requirement has been received towards the appeal. The increased appeal is due to the significant surge in diarrhoeal cases and the need for essential medicines and ORS to prevent morbidity and mortality, particularly in drought-affected areas. These funds are critical for addressing the immediate and under-lying causes of undernutrition in order to ensure that children survive and reach their developmental potential.