East Timor and North Korea

Helping people prepare for and cope with natural disasters

North Korea and East Timor face poverty and frequent natural disasters. Red Cross projects have helped to tackle both.

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Sixteen million people suffer from malnutrition in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – also known as North Korea. The country is also prone to natural disasters.

In DPRK, people must produce their own food or face going hungry. But floods and landslides often destroy crops, causing food shortages. The country needs to produce one million tonnes more food each year to feed its 24 million people.

Many forests have been cut down over the last decade in an attempt to increase the amount of farmland. But these trees had helped keep the soil in place and absorb water. Without them, there are even more landslides and floods.

Reducing disasters by planting trees

The DPRK Red Cross is the country’s largest humanitarian organisation and is well known for supporting communities in need. The British Red Cross has pledged to support them until later in 2018.

The Red Cross is working with communities on a large-scale tree planting project to reduce landslides and flooding. They will also train local people on ways to grow more food and produce more seeds.

This is part of a larger project to reduce the impact of disasters. The Red Cross also helps people get clean water and effective sanitation.

East Timor: helping a young country grow stronger

East Timor, just north of Australia, is home to about 1.2 million people. It became independent in 2002 and is also known as Timor-Leste. 

The country’s people face poverty and natural disasters: drought, landslides and flooding put many people at risk.

Clean, safe water can be hard to find. Most communities use public taps or unprotected springs to get what they need.

People also face serious diseases including malaria, TB, malnutrition, dengue fever and sexually transmitted infections. Problems during pregnancy and childbirth are the biggest cause of death for women.

Taking steps before disaster strikes

Being poor can make people more vulnerable to disasters. Their homes may not have been secure and they may not have the money to replace what they lose during floods. 

From 2016-2019, the British Red Cross worked with our partners the East Timor Red Cross, to help people improve their flood defences. Our project also promoted effective farming and fishing techniques, and helped families find new ways to make money.

All of this helps families cope better with emergencies.

Health as well as wealth

Staying healthy also helps people cope better, and the project included support for mothers and pregnant women, as well as first aid training.

We raised awareness about common health problems such as malaria and TB, and even supported cooking courses where families could learn how to enjoy a healthier diet.

New water pumps and latrines, as well as vital hygiene information, helped cut the risk of disease.

Community members played a big role in helping plan the work and keeping the new water systems in working order.