Food Coalition

Revised humanitarian response Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) - Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Food insecurity is widespread in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea due to insufficient agricultural production, households’ inability to access diverse food, poor food utilization and a limited capacity to cope with recurrent natural disasters, including droughts and floods.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in China in December 2019, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea took early measures in January 2020, including restrictions on the movement of people, goods and supplies across the country. These measures have prevented an outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, with no reported cases. In early April 2020, the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea started a phased relaxation of COVID-19-related restrictions and cautiously reopened limited cross-border trade with China along the Dandong-Shinju border. However, some COVID-19 containment measures remain in place, such as strict rules in economic activities and travel, as well as imports and fishing in border and coastal areas; and public health measures, including educational and awareness-raising campaigns.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in neighbouring countries has added another layer of uncertainty and vulnerability on the fragile food security situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. On top of a food deficit and additional food insecurity caused by recurrent droughts and floods, the effects of urgent and essential COVID-19 containment measures has caused a new unprecedented stress element to the economic and livelihood activities which are vital for sustaining the country’s food security. Early closing of the country’s border and suspension of trade with China might have protected the country from an outbreak, but it led to an inability to import foods, thereby causing a faster depletion of domestic food stocks built on the previous year’s harvest.

The agricultural supply chains and cooperative farms in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may have also faced delays in the procurement of vital inputs for spring planting activities such as fertilizer, seeds, irrigation pumps and spare parts for farm machineries for the spring planting season in May. Nonetheless, early crops account for only around 8 percent of the total annual crop production. Therefore, much would depend on the performance of the main season staple crops (rice, maize and soybeans) which are usually harvested in September and October.

Under these circumstances, it is highly likely that there are shortages in domestic food supplies. Furthermore, significant barriers continue to exist for humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to target populations, with increasing risks for already vulnerable groups including children, pregnant and lactating women, and the disabled.



Priority Areas of work: Global Humanitarian Response Plan
SDG: 1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 5. Gender Equality, 16. Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Level: Country
Country: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Budget: USD 13.45 million

Action Sheet:  DPRK_CB0209EN.pdf

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