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ACT Appeal DPRK: Relief & Rehabilitation - ASKP-11

Publication date

Appeal Target: US$ 1,930,000
Geneva, 20 March 2001

Dear Colleagues,

The past year has seen dramatic improvements in DPR Korea's relations with South Korea and the wider international community. Their impact on the current economic malaise, however, remains to be seen. In the meantime, the country is still in the grip of a continuing complex emergency further exacerbated by bitterly cold winter months.

The focus of concern for international NGOs active in DPR Korea remains on the plight of children in residential homes (orphanages and baby homes) who are mostly without parents and are suffering severe malnutrition. Special attention is focussed on the agricultural sector that has suffered an enormous decline in the past years, resulting in serious food deficits for a population dependant on agriculture.

ACT remains committed to finding a way to alleviate the plight of the people of DPR Korea. Through its members Diakonisches Werk/DW as the lead co-ordinating agency for ACT humanitarian response to DPRK and Church World Service/CWS as the Co-ordinating agency for administration of The Food Aid Liaison Unit/FALU, ACT seeks to raise funds for the following sectors of humanitarian response:

  • Provision of supplementary food (oil, pulses) and fortified high energy/protein foodstuff for pregnant/lactating women
  • Provision of pharmaceutical raw materials for local production
  • Provision of plastic sheeting and raw material for greenhouses along with training and exposure programs
  • Provision of inputs for increased potato production
  • Provision of nutritional inputs and non-food items to the vulnerable in emergency situations

Project Completion Date: 30 September 2001 (6 months)

Summary of Appeal Targets, Pledges/Contributions Received and Balance Requested in US$

Total Appeal Target(s)
Less: Pledges/Contr. Recd.
Balance Requested from ACT Network

Please kindly send your contributions to the following ACT bank account:

Account Number - 102539/0.01.061 (USD)
Account Name: ACT - Action by Churches Together
Banque Edouard Constant
Cours de Rive 11
Case postale 3754
1211 Genève 3

Please also inform the Finance Officer Jessie Kgoroeadira (direct tel. +4122/791.60.38, e-mail address of all pledges/contributions and transfers, including funds sent direct to the implementers, now that the Pledge Form is no longer attached to the Appeal.

We would appreciate being informed of any intent to submit applications for EU, USAID and/or other back donor funding and the subsequent results. We thank you in advance for your kind cooperation.

ACT Web Site address:

Ms. Geneviève Jacques
WCC/Cluster on Relations
Thor-Arne Prois
ACT Coordinator
Rev. Rudolf Hinz
LWF/World Service

ACT is a worldwide network of churches and related agencies meeting human need through coordinated emergency response.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.


ACT/Diakonishes Werk-Germany: Co-ordinating Agency for ACT Response in DPRK

ACT/Church World Service-USA: Co-ordinating Agency for administration of the Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU)


As in 1997-2000, ACT member Diakonisches Werk (DW) Germany, is prepared to be the ACT Co-ordinating Agency for ACT response and appeal projects in the DPRK in the year 2001.

Within the given limits and circumstances beyond control and/or influence of DW, Diakonisches Werk/Diakonie Emergency Aid ( based in Stuttgart, Germany), will help ensure co-ordination and facilitation of the ACT emergency response, as well as ensure that the critical tasks of assessment, relationships, procurement, transport, financial control, monitoring and reporting are carried out.

ACT member Church World Service (CWS) administers and facilitates the ACT network support and partnership in the NGO Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU) within the WFP office located in Pyongyang, the capital.


The Korean Christian Federation (KCF) represents the Protestant churches in North Korea and is the equivalent of a National Christian Council. KCF joined the DPRK government appeal in 1995 and requested humanitarian assistance and support from ACT. Since then, ACT has worked co-operatively and in co-ordination with KCF, building on the long term relations already established through KCF's work with the World Council of Churches and utilising KCF's capacity whenever possible for the facilitation and provision of humanitarian relief.

UNICEF/ACT-DW POH (Project Officer Health), MALU (Medical Aid Liaison Unit): Since 1998 assistance in the field of medical aid has been carried out through temporary technical consultancy (Mr. Albert Petersen, Dr. Edith Kaufmann - DIFÄM, German Institute on Medical Mission), while Mrs. Marilyn Weingärtner - based in WFP/MALU - had been entrusted with the facilitation and follow up of same until she left DPRK for Canada. In 2000, Dr Herbert Raaijmakers - based with UNICEF - took over tasks from Mrs. Weingärtner.

For 2001, Diakonie will maintain the technical consultancy of DIFÄM on temporary assignments as deemed necessary. To ensure effective coordination of medical aid from the ACT network, Terms of Reference have been worked out and were agreed by Diakonie and UNICEF. The POH will have day to day responsibility for supporting implementation, including monitoring of the emergency project entitled "Essential Drugs" as well as the regular health program.

The POH will mainly:

  • Manage the rehabilitation of local drug production with ACT/Diakonie's material and financial support
  • Provide, validate and/or revise estimates of the resources required for national level support for integrated health care for children and women
  • Assist the MoPH to better assess national requirements and determine UNICEF/ACT- Diakonie support for essential drugs, with respect to available stock consumption, utilization data forecast of needs and the sources of supplies
  • Monitor distribution of supplies sent by ACT/Diakonie
  • Provide progress reports on project activities to ACT/Diakonie
  • Liaise with counterparts and other international aid agency including WHO and FALU

The major part of the operational costs for the POH (salary, benefits, travel, housing, office operation and other) are being funded through DW's contribution to the ACT Appeal.

World Food Program/Food Aid Liaison Unit (WFP/FALU): In order to ensure effective co-ordination of food and other material aid inputs from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), WFP proposed the establishment of the Food Aid Liaison Unit (FALU) in the WFP Pyongyang office. ACT facilitated the establishment of FALU in December 1996 in co-operation with other NGOs. The FALU office and staff represent the interests of NGOs who are donating food and non-food relief for the DPRK crisis. Since the beginning of 2000, FALU has been staffed by one International Officer.

However, the co-operation with WFP has been intensified in a way that the 23 field monitors of WFP routinely relay monitoring information on ACT and other FALU commodities. This enhances the actual FALU monitoring capacity. This capacity will be imminently increased under the new Emergency Operation (EMOP) in effect since 1 January 2001, which provides for additional international WFP monitoring staff. This is the largest such operation which will be operated by WFP in 2001, and reflects the scale of the food deficit in DPRK.

The NGO members of the FALU agreement with WFP, which include ACT, Caritas, the Canadian Food Grains Bank and World Vision, have established the following major objectives for FALU:

  • To increase the volume of humanitarian assistance from the International NGO community and to enhance the role of NGOs within the DPRK.
  • On behalf of WFP, to provide liaison services between the 'Flood Damage Rehabilitation Committee' (FDRC) of the DPRK government and the International NGOs, with a view to promoting better mutual understanding and relief co-operation between them.
  • To assist the WFP and FDRC with the monitoring and co-ordination of NGO inputs and to assist with administrative matters.

The operational costs of the FALU, including salaries, benefits, travel, housing, office operations and other required support are jointly funded by the NGO members of the FALU agreement. As in other years, ACT will continue to support the FALU structure and staff through appeal funding.


Background of ACT Response in the DPRK

The inability of the DPRK economic system to cope with natural disasters, changing trade relations with former allies - Soviet Union/Russia and China and the burden of military spending have led to deprivation amongst almost the entire population.

The ACT emergency response in DPRK began following the devastating floods which occurred during July and August of 1995. These floods, considered the worst natural disaster in the history of DPRK, caused extensive damage to most of the Korean Peninsula as crops were washed away, 500,000 people were forced from their homes, and the lives of 5.2 million people were devastated. The government of the DPRK appealed for outside assistance from other countries, relief agencies and churches. The 1995 floods were followed by three years of additional natural disasters and continuing economic decline.

The years 1998 and 1999 saw improvements in the harvest, which in turn enabled some recovery in livestock numbers, particularly goats, pigs, ducks and rabbits. The harvest for 2000 was however worse than at any time during the initial crisis. In addition storms at the end of August 2000 caused loss of life, widespread devastation to homes and infrastructure, as well as destruction of standing crops. Their effect was far worse than the damage inflicted by typhoons Neil and Olga the year before.

ACT has responded to the massive humanitarian needs of the North Korean people during the past 5 years through the provision of food, seeds, fertilizers, agricultural inputs, medicines, medical raw materials and non-food items. This critical humanitarian assistance has been accomplished through effective relations with DPRK authorities and implementation through FALU (our secondment to WFP) and the Korean Christian Federation (KCF).

The recent overall pattern of donor response has been uneven. During 2000, WFP had received nearly all of its total food relief requirements. However support to other sectors was by comparison poor. Insufficient funding for agricultural recovery prevents both the development of sustainable agricultural systems and an exit programme for humanitarian organisations involved in food aid. Activities in the health and water and sanitation sectors also remain seriously under funded relative to that requested.

Impact on Human Lives and Changing Pattern of Need

The UN Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP) for 2001 states that "the plight of vulnerable people in the DPR Korea results from the interaction of several factors - poor nutrition leading to a weakened condition, exacerbated by diarrhoeal disease caused by drinking contaminated water supplies and poor sanitary facilities and practices - all these factors need to be addressed in unison".

The impact of this pattern of deprivation upon the lives of the North Korean people is evident throughout the country. The insufficient daily intake of 200-400 grams of food is visible in large sections of the population. Despite recent increases in the number of livestock, animal protein for most people is very limited. Fish is not a dietary option for people other than in coastal communities. With much of the land dedicated to cereal production, pulses and edible oil are in extremely short supply. In winter time, cold stress elevates the need for energy still further. At the time of writing, the majority of the population endure the severity of the Korean winter inadequately clad and with insufficient and unreliable heating. Health delivery systems have been undermined due to the general collapse of infrastructure, shortages of fuel and the lack of raw materials. Shortages of food, medicine, equipment and a deterioration of the most basic infrastructure such as water and sanitation have led to a near total breakdown of health services.

The brunt of such deprivation is inevitably borne by those least able to cope, women and young children. Young mothers experience problems in giving birth due to undeveloped reproductive systems. Interviews with mothers commonly report weight gain during pregnancy as less than half the internationally recommended requirement. The UNICEF multi-indicator cluster survey found 23% infants <2.5 kg at birth. Large numbers of new born infants continue to be reported as weighing less than this international standard. Excessive blood loss during delivery exacerbates the problem of anaemia for nursing mothers.

The nutritional survey of 1998 conducted by WFP, UNICEF and EU established that 62% of children <7 years were affected by chronic malnutrition (stunting) and 16% were affected by chronic malnutrition. A follow up survey involving international agencies is yet to take place.

Nevertheless it appears that the state of children during 2000 has improved. Less cases of acute malnutrition were either observed or reported compared with the previous year. Stunting is however still widely observed. Diarrhoeal diseases (related to unsafe water supply) remain a primary cause of malnutrition, particularly during the hot season.

Until very recently donor cereals have been in the form of wheat. Health professionals and mothers frequently cited the poor digestibility and palatability of a wheat based diet. This was a particular problem, especially among younger children at the weaning stage. Rice is now the cereal either being distributed, or pledged to WFP over the coming year. It is therefore entirely possible for mothers to home process an appropriate traditional rice weaning food. Children who rely on residential rather than family care, especially those in baby homes still nevertheless require special attention. Whilst WFP has adequate cereals for the coming year, there are serious shortages in the amounts of pulses and oil foods pledged for the coming year. These are essential dietary components. Given their current scarcity, mothers and young children should receive priority.

Food relief has produced stability in the most vulnerable parts of DPRK. Nevertheless the situation is such that 'any reduction in aid would have serious consequences'. The extent of the huge needs is still evident from the UN's Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for DPRK in 2001 which has budgeted nearly US$ 386 million of which about 82% is for food security. A further 12% of the appeal funding is dedicated agricultural rehabilitation. ACT supports the articulated CHAP and its key implications for programming in 2001.

In the health sector, the CHAP for 2001 cites the continued need for essential drugs and medical equipment, a key area in which ACT has responded. The document acknowledges however "that the poor state of the health service can only be fundamentally addressed through macro-investment, well outside the scope of the humanitarian community to provide". Additionally health conditions for communities in DPRK can only improve with prior measures taken in the water and sanitation sector.

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