A food security assessment prepared by WFP indicates that thousands of people recovering from devastating August floods in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) require immediate and continued humanitarian food assistance including nutritional support for children and other vulnerable persons in the heavily-flooded counties.
Immediately following the floods, the DPRK Government gave WFP extensive access and cooperation to assess the disaster’s impact on food security.
WFP international staff undertook rapid food security assessments between 17-26 August in flood-affected areas covering 33 counties in six Provinces.
The assessment findings confirmed that villagers and farmers suffered extensive losses of food stocks, livestock, and private kitchen gardens – all critical and needed sources of food for families seeking 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,” said Jean-Pierre DeMargerie, WFP’s Country Director for the DPRK.
Increase food supplements
“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 said.
The floods caused severe damage to agricultural areas, with the greatest impact on the “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 (which represents 16 percent of total arable land).
WFP is concerned that losses resulting from the floods may also have a negative impact on the functioning of the Public Food Distribution System.
The flood damage to the main cereal producing regions has the potential of reducing overall food availability and usual cereal transfers that occur between food surplus and food deficit regions.
“Hundreds of thousands have taken a big hit from these floods. They need our help now just to get by, and they will need our help in the future to recover lost livelihoods,” said Tony Banbury, Asia Director for WFP.
“WFP is committed to helping them as long as the government provides the conditions we need to do our job,” he said.
Since the beginning of the year, cereal prices in Pyongyang have increased, which was particularly noticeable during the months preceding the spring harvest (May and June).
Cereal prices were already high when the floods occurred, and post-flood market survey indicate further price increases.
The DPRK Government has agreed to WFP emergency food distributions over a three month period to 215,000 people affected by the flooding in 37 of the 149 flood affected counties across six provinces of the country.
The food will be given to the most vulnerable persons affected by the floods, including persons made homeless and now fully dependent on WFP food assistance.
With food stocks now being drawn down for the emergency flood relief operation, more donor resources will be needed to ensure the continuation of the broader nutritional assistance programme for children and women that WFP was implementing before the floods.
The emergency flood response alone will cost US$5-6 million according to preliminary estimates.