Map of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
UNICEF photo:  © UNICEFNorwayNatCom/DPRK/Truls Brekke/June 2012

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Updated January 2014

In 2014, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children aged 0 to 59 months affected by severe acute malnutrition are admitted for treatment


children under 1 and 364,900 pregnant women are immunized with Expanded Programme on Immunization vaccines


people access water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

2014 Requirements: US$20,332,675

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Total affected population: 5.8 million
Total affected children (under 18): 1.75 million

Total people to be reached in 2014: 5.8 million
Total children to be reached in 2014: 1.75 million

The 2013 programming context was marked by the tense situation along the Korean peninsula, additional international sanctions, reduced funding opportunities, and mid-year flooding that affected many parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), particularly North and South Pyongyang provinces. Despite substantial challenges, there were positive developments for children and women and the overall humanitarian situation improved slightly. The structural causes of vulnerability remained unchanged, however. External assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding and promoting the well-being of children and families whose food security, nutritional status and general health would otherwise be seriously compromised. Malnutrition rates continue to be of great concern, despite modest improvements. According to the 2012 National Nutrition Survey, 28 per cent and 4 per cent of children under 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition (stunting) and acute malnutrition (wasting), respectively. Chronic undernutrition is a public health problem and is among the major causes of maternal and child mortality in DPRK. Without adequate nutrition and intake of the necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals, children will continue to face stunting and wasting and will suffer delayed growth and developmental challenges. Life-saving humanitarian assistance continues to be critical for nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and education. Support is critically needed to address the underlying drivers of vulnerability.

Humanitarian strategy

2014 programme targets


  • Total 4.9 million (including pre-pregnant, pregnant, lactating women and children aged 6 to 24 months) receive micronutrient supplementation
  • 13,000 children aged 0 to 59 months affected by SAM who are admitted for treatment


  • 353,200 children under 1 and 364,900 pregnant women immunized with Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) vaccines
  • 1,413,000 children aged 12 to 59 months dewormed twice in a year
  • 1,590,000 children aged 6 to 59 months receive two doses of vitamin A in 2014


  • 200,000 people access water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 1,000,000 people have appropriate hygiene practices


  • 5,000 children will access schools with improved education infrastructure
  • 20,000 children will benefit from the early learning kits provided to kindergartens

Similar to 2013, in 2014, UNICEF and partners will provide multi-sector support to the Government to sustain critical national interventions, while focusing on vulnerable communities and institutions, particularly in north-eastern provinces and remote counties. UNICEF will continue its coordination role in the nutrition, WASH and education ‘theme groups’ within the United Nations Strategic Framework. Critical programmes will include immunization, deworming, the provision of essential life-saving drugs, the promotion of breastfeeding and adequate complementary feeding, and the provision of supplementary feeding. In nutrition, curative interventions for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) will be critical. UNICEF will also support ongoing maternal and neonatal health interventions to protect 29,000 pregnant women by providing life-saving equipment, test kits and training. An integrated water supply based on proven cost-effective and environmentally-friendly systems, combined with hygiene promotion and improvement of basic sanitation, will allow 200,000 people to access safe water and improved basic sanitation, and safely handle excreta recycled for agricultural use. School infrastructure will be rehabilitated to benefit approximately 5,000 children, and learning will be improved for 20,000 pre-school children with early childhood development kits and caregiver trainings. To support preparedness, UNICEF will replenish pre-positioned stocks with nutrition, health, education and WASH supplies for up to 100,000 persons who may be directly affected by reoccurring floods.

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$22,790,000 in 2013, and as of the end of October 2013, a total of US$12,234,423, or 54 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions. With the valuable contributions received, combined with global thematic funding, UNICEF nearly reached humanitarian targets for health, nutrition, WASH and education in 2013. Funding shortages during the first half of the year, however, delayed implementation of critical life-saving interventions addressing undernutrition, child mortality and micronutrient supplementation for pregnant women. Although national vaccination coverage reached more than 95 per cent in 2012, as of September 2013, coverage had decreased to 91 per cent. Through child health days, 98 per cent coverage was reached for both vitamin A supplementation (children aged 6 to 59 months) and deworming (children aged 24 to 59 months). In six provinces, children accessed essential life-saving drugs, particularly for the management of diarrhoea and pneumonia. During the 2013 floods, UNICEF responded to the emergency health and WASH needs of more than 100,000 people in three provinces through the provision of eight inter-agency emergency health kits, life-saving essential medicines, water and hygiene kits and water purification tablets. In WASH, approximately 200,000 people gained access to safe water through gravity-fed water supply systems. UNICEF rehabilitated six educational institutions in six counties, based on the child-friendly school framework, and provided child-friendly learning materials to 17 boarding schools and 12 children's homes, benefitting approximately 3,700 children.

Results through 31 October 2013 unless noted
* as of September 2013
** as per November Child Health day

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$20,332,675 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in DPRK in 2014. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the national response to the country’s continuing silent undernutrition emergency and to provide critical health, WASH and education services to the most vulnerable children and women in DPRK.