Red Cross prepares to respond to the drought in DPRK

تم النشر: 8 يوليه 2015 11:28 CET

By Hler Gudjonsson and Khaled Masud Ahmed, IFRC

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is facing the worst drought in 100 years, a catastrophe which now threatens to cause widespread food and water shortages in the country. A joint needs-assessment carried out by the local Government and humanitarian actors indicates that total crop production is likely to be reduced by 30-40% in the drought-affected areas, including a 40-50% reduction in the early harvest.

In preparation for the drought, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has a long-term cooperation with the Red Cross Society of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on the implementation of various programmes that are conducted in close cooperation and coordination with the relevant authorities. Areas of focus relevant to the drought response include disaster risk reduction, healthcare, water and sanitation and organizational development.

“One of the other impacts of water shortages is a spike in waterborne diseases, and the situation is especially serious among women and children under the age of five as people have less access to safe water for adequate hygiene practices,” says Khaled Masud Ahmed, Disaster Management Delegate for the IFRC. “There is also a limited supply of essential medicines and hygiene items, which makes things worse. This is why we are closely monitoring the drought situation and its impact.”

As more information becomes available, the Red Cross’ activities will be adjusted and extended to provide special focus on activities that provide both immediate relief and longer term benefits to communities. “We are looking to provide water and sanitation systems, greenhouses for vegetable production and agro-forestry measures that generate food while protecting unstable hillsides from landslides,” Masud adds.

For the past eighteen months, the prolonged dry weather in the country has caused significantly less rainfall and snow. The most significant shortfalls were recorded in North and South Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces, where there has been up to 75% decline in annual rainfall from 2012-2015. Two thirds of the population of the country depend on food distributions and are now at risk from this drought.