The food and nutrition situation in North Korea is fragile and subject to deterioration in case of shocks. Food security is expected to worsen this year after the country witnessed a decline in total food production in 2015 for the first time in five years due to a prolonged drought. Chronic malnutrition remains a concern.
Extreme weather conditions have also posed challenges in recent years. In mid-2015, torrential downpours triggered floods that submerged several villages and cities’ suburbs in the South Hwanghae Province and in the North and South Hamgyong Province. Many houses and crop fields were destroyed or severely damaged in the wake of the event.
Floods occurred also in 2012 and 2013, leaving more than 140 people killed and displacing some 135 000 more. Vast areas of farmland were also damaged.
The EU’s humanitarian response
The EU has been responding to humanitarian needs in North Korea since 1995, providing €135.3 million to support over 130 projects focusing particularly on food assistance, health services and access to clean water and sanitation.
In response to the 2015 floods, the EU released €200 000 for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide clean water and sanitation, shelter and non-food items to affected populations. Similar assistance was provided through the IFRC following the floods in 2012 and 2013, when the European Commission contributed €200 000 and €132 520, respectively.
Through its Disaster Preparedness Programme (DIPECHO), the Commission allocated € 300 000 in early 2016 to fund an initiative focusing on enhancing the capacity of people in rural areas to respond to future floods and droughts.
Between 2014 and 2015, the EU supported a multi-country initiative, which included North Korea, implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The action aimed at increasing capacities for disaster risk reduction in agriculture. The project included information sharing, the use of good farming practices and awareness raising on core technical and institutional requirements.