Saturday, April 30, 2011

DPR Korea In Need Of Food

Three and a half million people in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are estimated to be in desperate need of food. Their particularly intense winter caused severe crop losses. The vegetable harvest was down 44% percent last year. A one year United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) operation is being launched to feed this estimated 3.5 million people and they say that women and children will be the focus, following an assessment by several aid agencies.

Since, government supplied rations only amount to about half a persons needed daily food intake, UNICEF has launched $20 million to appeal to fund assistance programs in the five DPRK provinces. Families have already started cutting out the size or number of meals each day. Therefore, under the WFP operation, cereals and the ingredients for local production of foods such as corn-soy milk, rice milk, and high nutrient biscuits will be distributed through the public distribution system. The operation should continue through the harvest expected in October, with nutrition products being distributed until then. The UNICEF assistance program will be dealing with behavioral and structural issues such as hygiene, infant feeding practices and water sanitation, all of which are extremely important for the livelihood of the population.

The overall rates of acute malnutrition have not yet reached crisis level, but it is clear that the situation is deteriorating. "We face a critical window to get supplies into the country and reach the millions who are already hungry," stated Amir Abdullah, WFPs Deputy Executive Director and Chief.

--Gabrielle Gurian