While the humanitarian crisis in DPRK is complex, little up-to-date information is available for analysis. In 2017, approximately 18 million people (70% of the population) were dependent on the rations provided by the state’s central distribution system as their main source of food, which was assessed to be lacking in quantity, and insufficiently diverse for a healthy development, leading to food security and nutrition needs.?  

DPRK is disaster-prone, regularly subject to intense rain, floods, and droughts. In August 2016, flooding in North Hamgyong province was described as the largest natural disaster in northern DPRK in almost a century, with 138 deaths and over 30,000 houses were damaged, submerged, or destroyed. Nearly 70,000 people were displaced.? 

Humanitarian access and operations are negatively impacted by the tense international political environment, and by international and bilateral sanctions imposed on the DPRK, particularly because of the government’s nuclear programme.?

For 2019, INFORM measures DPRK's risk index at 4.7/10. The country ranks relatively high in the "Lack of coping capacity" category, at 6.4/10.? 

This country is being monitored by our analysis team daily. Crisis analysis content is updated on an ad hoc basis. 

Key priorities

WASH: More than 50% of the population do not have access to a functional water supply, while around 23% of the population (5.7 million people) do not have access to basic sanitation. Widespread poor hygiene practices are resulting in high exposure to the risk of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, the leading cause of child mortality in DPRK.

Food: Chronic food insecurity, early childhood malnutrition and nutrition insecurity are widespread in DPRK. Around 10.3 million people, or 41% of the total population, are undernourished.

Health: Under-five children, pregnant women, people with communicable diseases, and people living with disabilities are the most vulnerable people in need of health services.
Many health facilities in DPRK do not have the specialist equipment and trained staff to meet the specific health-related needs of people with disabilities, with only 37.4% of people who require assistive devices having access to them. In 43.3% of cases, diseases (communicable and non-communicable) are one of the main causes of disability in DPRK.

Access: Travel within DPRK remains regulated by national authorities. International humanitarian agencies need to obtain advance clearance for field visits outside of Pyongyang. While sanctions imposed on DPRK by the UN Security Council are not intended to restrict humanitarian activities, in practice, humanitarian activities are often significantly delayed and disrupted, notably due to the perception of risk of violating the sanctions by banks, suppliers and officials.?

Information Gaps and needs

Information flows are slowly improving but poor humanitarian access has created major information gaps. Access to up-to-date baseline data continues to be a challenge. The last National Nutrition Survey was carried out in 2012. The last Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) was carried out in 2013, and although the Government has since conducted its own crop assessment, they omit key nutritional data. A national population census is expected to be carried out in 2018.?

Key documents

DPRK Needs and Priorities March 2018