With a population of 24.5 million, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been excluded from globalization and economic development for various reasons. Floods, torrential rains, typhoons and droughts threaten lives and livelihoods every year and cause soil erosion, landslides and damage to infrastructure.
The country does not produce enough food, and it has limited emergency food stocks and scant foreign currency reserves to buy food on the international market. Shocks affecting agricultural production have an immediate impact on food availability. The 2012 crop and food security assessment estimated that cereal production was 4.9 million mt in 2012/13, an increase for the second consecutive year. But cereal requirements are expected to be 5.4 million mt, resulting in a deficit of 507,000 mt for 2012/13.
The Government plans to import 300,000 mt of food, however, leaving a net deficit of 207,000 mt – the smallest for many years. Nonetheless, 3.5 million people – 2.8 million of them in the northern and eastern provinces – remain vulnerable to food insecurity and undernutrition, and continue to require assistance. The 2012 national nutrition survey noted a modest drop in chronic malnutrition since the 2009 multiple-indicator cluster survey. There are variations among provinces, however, with stunting prevalence of up to 40 percent in the northeast. The survey also showed that the prevalence of acute malnutrition fell from 5.2 percent to 4.0 percent over the same period: this is promising, but the presence of aggravating factors such as food insecurity affecting vulnerable children calls for continued focus on nutrition.
In accordance with the United Nations Strategic Framework for the country, the goal of protracted relief and recovery operation 200532 is to enhance food and nutrition security in towns and mountainous regions, with emphasis on children and women, especially by providing locally produced fortified food.
The operation also supports the Government in preparing for and responding to natural disasters.
A Letter of Understanding between the Government and WFP is expected to provide favourable operational conditions similar to those for protracted relief and recovery operation 200114 (2010–2013) and emergency operation 200266 (2011–2012).