Flood victims in DPR Korea face serious hunger threat, more donations needed – UN
Thousands of people recovering from last month's devastating floods in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) require immediate and continued food aid, including nutritional support for children and other vulnerable people, and more donations are needed, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.
"Hundreds of thousands have taken a big hit from these floods," WFP Asia Director Tony Banbury said of his agency's latest food security assessment report. "They need our help now just to get by, and they will need our help in the future to recover lost livelihoods."
Immediately after the floods, the Government gave WFP extensive access and cooperation to assess the disaster's impact and international agency staff undertook rapid assessments between 17-26 August in six provinces. WFP and the Government agreed last month on food distributions to 215,000 people over three months.
The latest findings confirmed that villagers and farmers suffered extensive losses of food stocks, livestock and private kitchen gardens -- all critical sources of food in the upcoming winter months.
"WFP is providing emergency food assistance in 37 of the hardest hit counties, but we are also concerned that children and pregnant mothers are able to receive adequate food as these areas struggle to recover," WFP Country Director Jean-Pierre DeMargerie said.
"We will work closely with the government in monitoring the nutritional status of vulnerable persons and we will seek to increase food supplements for children who live in these areas," he added.
The floods caused severe damage to agricultural areas, with the greatest impact on the so-called "Cereal Bowl" lowlands of North and South Phyongan, and North Hwanghae and South Hwanghae provinces, representing 76 percent of the DPRK's total arable land.
Estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that the damage to arable land cultivated with rice, maize, soybean and other crops totals 223,381 hectares -- 16 per cent of total arable land.
"WFP is committed to helping them as long as the Government provides the conditions we need to do our job," Mr. DeMargerie said. The Government has indicated acceptance of WFP conditions allowing for ongoing visits and assessments by agency staff of food distribution at district and community levels.
An existing WFP operation provides nutritional aid to 1.9 million especially vulnerable people across 50 counties, including many now hit by the floods, with vitamin- and mineral-enriched foods processed at local factories for young children and pregnant and nursing women. With stocks now being drawn down for flood relief, more donor aid will be needed to ensure continuation of the broader aid programme. The emergency flood response alone will cost $5-6 million, according to preliminary estimates.