ASIA-PACIFIC Democratic People's Republic of Korea

© UNICEF/NYHQ2004-0536/Horner

A woman cleans poultry at a UNICEF-supported water and sanitation cistern in North Hwanghae Province. Recurrent natural disasters and decreased international food aid have caused severe food shortages; 37 per cent of the population is dependent on food aid.

Children and Women in Crisis

Stunting, wasting, undernutrition – these harsh words should have no place in the vocabulary of childhood. Yet in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, they define the reality for many children and their mothers. Persistent domestic food shortages, brought about by recurrent natural disasters and decreased international food aid to the country,1 have added new dimensions to a landscape marked by food insecurity. These are grim tidings in a country where an estimated 37 per cent of the population depends on food aid.2
Access to the population in need remains problematic in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with the exception of the Expanded Programme on Immunization and micronutrient supplementation. UNICEF and other UN agencies follow the principle of ‘no access, no support’ and continue to advocate for access to people who need aid and transparency of information.

Meeting Urgent Needs and Building Resilience in 2011

UNICEF, together with the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, non-governmental organizations and other international agencies, will focus on assisting the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach people in rural areas. The organization serves as leader of the education and WASH theme groups in the country. UNICEF expects to reach around 4.4 million people, including 3.3 million women of childbearing age and around 573,000 girls and 581,000 boys. Just over 60 per cent of intended beneficiaries live in rural areas.

Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2011

In the 2010 Humanitarian Action Report, UNICEF estimated that US$10 million was needed to fund its work in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. As of October 2010, a total of US$2,050,636 – only 21 per cent – had been received. With this funding, priority was given to key interventions for highest impact. 80 per cent of pregnant women nationwide received micronutrient supplements to prevent or treat anaemia. According to the ministry of public health, children in 105 counties where rates of severe acute malnutrition were high received treatment, with 75 per cent making a complete recovery. In addition, 3.5 million children and women had access to essential medicines and six community water systems were rehabilitated to provide clean water for 46,000 people, including 16,000 children – thereby helping prevent the recurrent spread of disease.

Funding Requirements for 2011

UNICEF is requesting US$12 million for its 2011 humanitarian work, an increase reflecting the expanded geographical reach of its programmes that now cover more people, as well as record numbers of people affected by natural hazards and food insecurity. Without funding for the key activities, the adverse effects of lack of food will continue to haunt the country’s women and children, with no sign of abating.

More information on achievements of 2010 and the humanitarian action planned for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2011 can be found at www.unicef.org/hac2011 or the country office website at www.unicef.org/dprk.

1 World Food Programme, ‘Protracted Relief and Recovery Operations – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ (WFP/EB.A/2010/9-C/1), WFP, Rome, 11 May 2010, p. 6.
2 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, ‘Special Report: FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’, FAO, Rome, 8 October 2008, p. 4.


UNICEF Emergency Needs for 2011 (in US dollars) Total $12,000,000