Water, environment and sanitation

Water, environment and sanitation


Water, environment and sanitation

Gravity-flow water supply system
A gravity-flow water supply technology was piloted to prevent common water-borne diseases

The systems that support water and sanitation in DPRK are in a state of disrepair. The extensive piped water supply systems put in place during the early 1980s are now in ailing condition due to low levels of investments and rehabilitation, shortage of electricity, and destruction caused by natural disasters.

According to the 2008 Census report, 22% of the population spends time in fetching water from sources other than piped water in the dwelling. There is a clear geographical dimension to this; almost 30% of rural population fetch water compared to only 18% of the urban counterparts. In addition, there is also a gender inequality involved in collecting water as only 32% of men are responsible for this activity compared to 68% of women. While almost all households have access to some form of sanitation facility, observations made particularly in rural areas suggest that latrines are predominantly rudimentary and therefore remain ineffective in preventing faecal materials from entering into the human environment.

Findings from a joint Ministry of City Management and UNICEF assessment of water supply facilities in two counties in 2012 showed that most of the piped systems are not or partially functioning, forcing many households to supplement their water consumption from dug wells and tube wells too often close to sources of contamination.

As a result, diarrhoea caused by inadequate water quality, poor sanitation and unhygienic behaviour is still amongst the leading causes of under-five mortality.

The Government has been encouraging the replacement of pumping water systems with gravity-fed water systems (GFS), along with the introduction of decentralized waste water treatment systems (DEWATS).

Rehabilitated latrine in Kowon country primary school
Sanitation facilities are upgraded or newly installed with UNICEF funding

UNICEF’s WASH programme contributes to improved access and utilization of safe drinking water and sanitation services and hygiene practices in communities and schools, in-line with the UNSF for DPRK and global targets of MDG 7, MDG 1 and 4.

UNICEF’s several WASH projects are interconnected and contribute to:

  • Increased access to sustainable safe water and sanitation facilities
  • Reduction of faecal contamination of the child’s environment
  • Improved focus on water quality
  • Demonstration of appropriate technologies and approaches
  • Improved hygiene practices
  • Improved emergency preparedness and response capacity and enhanced planning, technical and management capacity of central, provincial and county-level partners

The main implementing partner is the Ministry of City Management (MoCM) that is responsible for water supply and sanitation in both urban and rural areas. Other implementing partners include Hygiene and Anti-Epidemic Stations (HAES) of the MoPH for water quality testing, Education Commission for school sanitation and hygiene promotion and people’s committees mainly at the county level. Strategic partners include IFRC and European NGOs, locally known as EUPS Units.



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