Humanitarian Action for Children 2012

EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Democratic People's Republic of Korea

© REUTERS/Sagolj

A child suffers from undernutrition in a hospital in Haeju, in South Hwanghae Province. Many children are chronically malnourished as a result of food insecurity, typhoons and flooding, a failing economy and limited access to safe water.

September 2012 Update: UNICEF Humanitarian Action for Children [PDF]


Children and Women in Crisis

Undernutrition defines the reality for many children and women in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. A failing economy and recurrent natural hazards have added new dimensions to a landscape marked by food insecurity. In 2010, the infant mortality rate increased to 26 per 1,000 live births, compared with the 1990 level of 23 per 1,000 live births.1 Pneumonia and diarrhoea, stemming from a lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities, particularly in rural areas, account for the deaths of 28 per cent of children under 5.2 Additionally, a shortage of education resources has deteriorated school infrastructure and quality of education.

Although UNICEF continues to implement the Expanded Programme on Immunization and micronutrient supplementation, access to people in need remains challenging. UNICEF and other UN agencies follow the principle of ‘no access, no support’ and continue to advocate for transparency of information and population access.

Meeting Urgent Needs in 2012

UNICEF, together with the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, NGOs and other international agencies, will focus on assisting the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach people in rural areas. As lead of the WASH, education and nutrition clusters, UNICEF expects to reach approximately 10.6 million people, including 5.9 million women of childbearing age and more than 855,000 girls and 892,000 boys under 5.

Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2011

UNICEF had received US$5,096,810 as of end October 2011 towards the requested US$20,435,477 to prevent a full-scale nutrition crisis, particularly among children. With only one fourth of the funding needs received, UNICEF gave priority to the following key interventions for highest impact: providing multiple micronutrient interventions to all children 6–24 months old in 14 baby homes, as well as 182,000 pregnant women and 42,000 breastfeeding women nationwide; extending community management of acute malnutrition from 4 to 29 emergency counties with 4,916 children with severe acute malnutrition  identified through screening of 180,311 children 6-59 months old to be under treatment by end 2011; providing routine vaccines to more than 335,000 infants and 339,400 pregnant women; distributing an estimated 8,500 essential medicine kits, benefiting 695,000 children under 5 in four provinces; reaching more than 1 million children 24–59 months old with deworming tablets, and 3.4 million school-age children and 1.5 million children 6–59 months old with vitamin A supplementation during biannual Child Health Days; providing access to safe water through gravity-fed water supply systems to nearly 82,000 people, including some 25,000 children under 18, in 6 rural communities; reaching at least 75,000 families with hygiene education material; improving water connections to 1 county hospital, 3 RI clinics, 12 child-care institutions and 6 schools, benefiting some 3,000 children; and providing approximately 14,000 children in 74 other institutions with emergency water and hygiene kits, more than 1,000 flood-affected families in North and South Hwanghae with emergency water kits and more than 3,000 children in 16 institutions with early child development kits.

Funding Requirements for 2012

UNICEF is requesting US$22,428,000 for its humanitarian work, an increase reflecting the expanded geographical reach of its programme, which now covers more people and children affected by undernutrition in four of the most vulnerable provinces. Without funding for key activities, the adverse effects of undernutrition; lack of vaccines for tuberculosis, polio and tetanus; lack of essential medicines; and unhealthy water and sanitation will continue to threaten the lives and well-being of the country’s children and women.

More information on humanitarian action planned for 2012 can be found at and the country office website at

1 United Nations Children’s Fund and World Health Organization, Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2011 – Estimates developed by the UN inter-agency group for child mortality estimation, UNICEF, New York, 2011, p. 13.
2 World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund, 'Countdown to 2015 Decade Report (2000–2010): Taking stock of maternal, newborn and child survival', WHO and UNICEF, Geneva and New York, 2010, p. 70.