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UN Issue 2015 Humanitarian Priorities for DPRK

The United Nations in April 2015 launched an appeal for US$111 million calling North Korea ‘both a silent and underfunded humanitarian situation’. According to the UN, among that population, 70 per cent (18 million people) are considered food insecure with high levels of chronic and acute malnutrition among children. The population of North Korea has to compete against acute crises including Syria, Ebola, Ukraine, Yemen and South Sudan alongside a multitude of chronic humanitarian disasters. Yet the UN’s DPR Korea 2015: Humanitarian Needs and Priorities outlines the multitude of challenges faced by the population of North Korea and that require immediate attention: PRIORITY NEEDS 18 million people are food insecure and lack nutritional diversity. From a population of 24.6 million, approximately 70 per cent (18 million) are food insecure and highly vulnerable to shortages in food production. Of the 18 million approximately 1.8 million children, pregnant and lactating women, and elderly are in need of specialised nutritious food designed to combat malnutrition. Food production is hampered by a lack of agricultural inputs, such as soybean seeds, fertilizer and plastic sheets. The chronic malnutrition (stunting) rate among under-five children is 27.9 per cent (about 540,000) while acutely malnourished (wasting) affects four per cent of children under-five (about 90,000). Essential supplies are required to manage severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and to provide micronutrient supplements to pregnant and lactating women and children in order to support their growth and development. More than six million people need access to essential health services, including vaccines and other medicines. DPR Korea faces significant health challenges, particularly in areas of maternal, child and reproductive health, health infrastructure and essential medicines with limited resources for basic medical treatment. Children underfive (approximately 1.7 million) are vulnerable to deadly diseases, such as pneumonia and diarrhoea, if they do not receive the proper vaccinations or basic food, vitamins and micronutrients. A lack of access to essential supplies and services that reduce maternal and newborn mortality place 364,900 pregnant women at risk of common life-threatening conditions such as obstetric complications. Seven million people need access to clean water and proper sanitation. Access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education is necessary to prevent malnutrition and reduce the incidence of diarrhoea, respiratory illnesses and other diseases. However, access remains an ongoing challenge, especially for children in rural areas and those in institutions, such as nurseries, kindergartens and orphanages. Many health facilities do not have functioning water systems, which can cause an increase in hospital infection rates and further spread disease. DPR Korea remains vulnerable to natural disasters. DPR Korea continues to be challenged by dry spells, harsh weather conditions and localized flooding. Affecting 800,000 people in 2013, flooding occurred in the country in four of the last five years. Capacity building with key Government institutions in disaster preparedness is required to overcome these re-occurring crises, which further exacerbate people’s vulnerabilities and increases their needs. Click here for the UN document: 20150401 DPR_Korea_NP_FINAL