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17 AUG 2012

Oxfam provides emergency food supplies to 20,000 people in DPRK

International aid agency Oxfam Hong Kong is delivering food supplies through its local partner to meet the immediate needs of some 20,000 people affected by continuous disasters in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

After a serious dry spell in May, typhoon-triggered floods and heavy rainfall in late July across provinces of DPRK have left at least 169 people dead, almost 400 people missing, over 200,000 people homeless and many farmlands destructed.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and World Food Programme (FAO/WFP), the drought has, since May, affected 17% of the country’s area, with some provinces recording the lowest rainfall in 50 years.

“Ongoing water shortage has led to poor harvest in crops such as potatoes, wheat and barley. Some farms previously supported by Oxfam are only getting 30% of the yield produced last year, or even less,” said Arnold Fang, Programme Officer - DPR Korea of Oxfam Hong Kong.

In response to the acute situation, Oxfam has spent HK$1.4 million to provide emergency food assistance for about 21,000 people from over 5,200 households in some of the worst hit areas in North Pyongan Province, South Pyongan Province, North Hwanghae Province and Pyongyang City. The supplies will allow each household member to receive a minimum of 10 kg of maize and each household to receive 5kg of soybean oil.

A food security assessment by FAO/WFP last November indicated that three million people in DPRK were facing chronic food shortage and were in urgent need of international food assistance. The most vulnerable groups include children under five and people unable to work because of prolonged or chronic illnesses.

Oxfam Hong Kong started working in DPRK in 1997 when the country was experiencing food crisis due to a series of droughts. From 2001 to 2004, Oxfam Hong Kong supplied cooking oil to nurseries and kindergartens through partner organisations, providing support to pregnant and nursing women. Various emergency responses were also carried out during this period. From 2004 to 2011, Oxfam Hong Kong launched livelihood rehabilitation programmes in DPRK, providing over HK$17 million in agricultural support and HK$11 million in food assistance.