Sixteen million people suffer from malnutrition in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – also known as North Korea –and the country is prone to natural disasters.
Political tensions in the DPRK have left its people isolated from the rest of the world. But the Red Cross is using its respected position to reach communities and help people prepare for emergencies.
Through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the British Red Cross is helping the DPRK Red Cross to:
- reduce the impact of disasters
- improve its volunteer management, and
- provide water and sanitation.
Reducing the impact of disasters
The rigid self-reliance of the DPRK means people must produce their own food if they are to eat – but recurrent floods and landslides destroy crops, making this impossible. The country needs to produce one million tonnes more food each year to feed its 24 million population.
Many forests have been cut down over the last decade in an attempt to increase the amount of farmland. But, because these trees helped structure the soil and absorb water, their removal has resulted in even more landslides and floods.
The DPRK Red Cross is working with communities on a large-scale tree planting project to reduce the problem. Tree planting is not a new method, but past have seen only ten per cent of seedlings survive. Working alongside local experts, the Red Cross is training communities in cultivation techniques to increase the seedlings survival rate to 70 per cent. The organisation will also train local people on ways to grow more food and produce more seeds.
Well-placed to help
The DPRK Red Cross Society is the largest humanitarian organisation in the country, with a well-recognised role supporting vulnerable communities. Its activities in DPRK include:
- distributing medicine to 2,000 clinics covering 8 million people - a third of the population
- running 2,500 first aid posts in remote villages
- getting water to vulnerable people’s houses and building latrines
- preparing for disasters by reinforcing rivers, building dikes and establishing early warning systems
- prepositioning essential items, ready to respond to disasters
- improving people’s access to food
- planting trees.
The British Red Cross initially supported the DPRK Red Cross from the mid-1990s to 2005. Now, the British Red Cross has pledged to support the DPRK Red Cross’s work until 2018.
Find out more about our work to prepare people for disasters