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Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) / North Hamgyong Province: Floods Emergency Appeal Final Report (N° MDRKP008)

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This report gives an account of the humanitarian situation and the response carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Red Cross Society (DPRK RCS) during the period between 12 September 2016 and 31 December 2017, as per revised Emergency Operation Appeal (EPOA) with the support of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to meet the needs of floods affected families of North Hamgyong Province in DPRK.

The Emergency Appeal was revised on 26 October 2017, and the Revised Emergency Appeal No. 2 sought to raise CHF 5,037,707 (reduced from CHF 15,199,723) to enable the IFRC to support the DPRK RCS in delivering relief assistance and support to 110,000 people (27,500 households, reduced from 330,000 people) affected by the floods for 16 months. The revision was due to only 33 per cent of requested fund being raised for the original appeal budget of CHF 15.2 million.

The flood response operation focused on health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); shelter (including household nonfood items); disaster risk reduction (DRR) and National Society capacity building. The revised appeal focused on provision of health activities such as Household First Aid Kits and refresher First Aid training for volunteers.


Description of the disaster

From 29 to 31 August 2016, heavy rainfall occurred in North Hamgyong Province of DPRK, causing unprecedented massive flood in Tumen River and its offshoots around the Chinese-DPRK border and other areas across the province. The flooding in North Hamgyong Province was described as the largest natural disaster in northern part of DPRK in almost a century and was declared a national emergency of highest priority.

A huge quantity of water flowed down the Tumen flood plain, creating a violent torrent of water that washed away people, buildings, gardens and crops. This situation was further aggravated due to Typhoon Lionrock which simultaneously hit the coast of North Hamgyong Province. The winds and increased sea levels caused by the typhoon prevented the flood waters pouring down the Tumen River from discharging into the East Sea. The water was effectively locked in the riverbed, resulting in widespread flash-flooding and inundation sweeping cities and towns across the North Hamgyong Province.

The flooding occurred during the night and hit the population while they were sleeping. Natural disasters were an unusual event in this part of DPRK and the population in the affected areas were relatively unprepared. Although the national early warning system was activated and people were warned of the flooding risk, yet many people did not leave their houses due to lack of awareness and a sense of complacency to the danger.

According to the government official figures, 138 deaths were reported with 400 people missing and at least 667,715 people affected across all six counties in North Hamgyong Province. Over 30,000 houses were damaged, submerged or destroyed, resulting in nearly 70,000 people being displaced. Statistics on flood damages from the government on 6 February 2017 reported that around 3,187 buildings were completely damaged.

Emergency shelter and non-food items were identified as immediate needs of flood affected communities of North Hamgyong Province. Construction or rehabilitation of houses was prioritized, keeping in mind that the northern part of the DPRK is extremely cold (-37 degree Celsius) in Winter.

The Government of DPRK (GoDPRK) requested immediate support from the international community to provide emergency shelter, non-food items, rehabilitation of water supply system and support to provide CGI aluminum sheets for rehabilitation and reconstruction of new houses. As a result, a well-coordinated operation was initiated by mobilizing the available stock instantly.

The government of DPRK mobilized approximately 370,000 people (140,000 soldiers and 230,000 civilians) to construct new houses for displaced people and supplied winter clothes, heating and basic household materials for flood victims. Through the efforts of GoDPRK, 11,928 families were relocated in new houses, and 57 kindergartens and nurseries, 13 hospitals, 18kms of river embankment, 131kms of road and 318 hectares of arable land were rehabilitated by 19 November 2016.

To respond to the disaster, DPRK RCS and the IFRC implemented Shelter activities for displaced people, distributed emergency non-food items (NFIs) and water purification tablets (WPTs) to flood victims and conducted hygiene promotion activities for them. Activities were also planned in the areas of Health and Water and Sanitation to support gaps and needs of the affected population and as articulated in the relevant sections of this report.