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Humanitarian Action for Children 2020 - Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

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Democratic People's Republic of Korea

The humanitarian situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is characterized by chronic food insecurity and lack of access to life-saving basic services, with profound impacts on the most vulnerable. Despite a substantial drop in stunting from 28 per cent in 2012 to 19 per cent in 2017, provincial disparities persist; and 3 per cent of children under 5 years are suffering from acute malnutrition and mutually-reinforcing deprivations. Approximately 39 per cent of the population (56 per cent in rural areas) lacks access to a safely managed drinking water source; and diarrhoea and pneumonia remain the two main causes of death among children under 5 years. Prolonged dry spells, flooding and limited agricultural inputs – which led to increased food insecurity in 2019 – will likely persist in 2020. In September 2019, Tropical Cyclone Lingling inundated 46,000 hectares of farmland, affecting food supplies. Crop production is not expected to recover from the slump of the past two years. External assistance will therefore continue to play a vital role in safeguarding the well-being of children and families, whose food security, nutritional status, general health and sanitation needs would otherwise be compromised in the restricted operational environment compounded by stringent scrutiny.

Humanitarian strategy

As lead of the nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector working groups and co-lead of health with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF remains at the forefront of humanitarian response in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. To sustain the delivery of life-saving interventions, UNICEF will continue to work with partners to apply its three-pronged strategic approach of: 1) providing basic supplies in line with global standards; 2) strengthening the timely and effective delivery of essential health, nutrition and WASH services, especially for children under 5 years and pregnant and lactating women; and 3) building local capacities to strengthen data collection and evidence generation. UNICEF will also focus on integrated service delivery to facilitate equitable access to WASH interventions, reduce high mortality and morbidity rates, address undernutrition among women and children, particularly girls, and build community resilience through application of the first 1,000 days of life approach, which links nutrition, health and WASH interventions.