Filling the Gap: 2012 spring-time food intervention in DPRK | Mission East

Filling the Gap: 2012 spring-time food intervention in DPRK

Project Status: 

Project Aims:

To improve the nutritional status of young children in South Hwanghae Province during the 2012 spring food gap.

North Korea


DPRK suffers from a long-term food security problem. Limited available arable land, out-dated farming techniques, shortages of agricultural inputs and increases in international food and fuel prices impinge on DPRK’s ability supply sufficient food for the population.
In 2010 and 2011, this underlying problem was further exacerbated by successive extreme weather events. This resulted in drastic cuts in food rations and dire consequences for those most vulnerable to malnutrition (including young children, pregnant and lactating women and the elderly).
While some improvements in agricultural inputs in 2011 helped to offset the damage done by the weather events and improve the outlook for 2012, production nevertheless falls short of meeting the needs for the population. The annual harvest cycle is such that DPRK faces particular hardship during the two annual ‘lean periods’ before harvests in the summer and late fall.
The nutrition situation in DPRK can be characterised as poor in general, regardless of seasonal and annual fluctuations. In a 2009 survey, 33% of children were found to be stunted (low height for age), 18% were underweight (low weight for age), and 5% were wasting (low weight for height). This situation can be attributed to chronic shortages of staple foods, lack of dietary variety and lack of adequate protein, lipids and certain key micronutrients in the food supply.
The most recent data, collected in Oct/Nov 2011, from WFP/FAO’s review of hospital records and interviews with key informants across the country, comparing data during this past lean season against the previous year, shows the following:
• An increase of 50-100% in the number of children hospitalised with symptoms of acute malnutrition
• A higher prevalence of children who are underweight at birth
• An increase in the number of pregnant women and children with anaemia
• Cases of oedema (an extreme manifestation of malnutrition) in some provinces
• Skin conditions related to dietary intake in some provinces
With the backdrop of last year’s dire nutrition situation, and the knowledge that there are insufficiencies each spring, it is imperative to ensure that the most vulnerable population is not subject to a second significant period of shortage. As per the WFP/FAO recommendations, “children who suffered acute undernutrition during this past lean season will need access to fortified supplementary food in order to prevent relapse into mild, moderate, or severe stages of acute undernutrition in the months following their recovery”. Mission East’s intervention seeks to provide a more balanced diet for young children in food insecure provinces during the 2012 lean season.

Project Action:

The project will assist nearly 20,000 food-vulnerable children by providing a 3-month supply of a nutritional supplement to nurseries and kindergartens in Haeju City, South Hwanghae Province. This supplement, a powder containing concentrated proteins, minerals and vitamins, is designed for people with imbalanced, predominantly cereal-based diets. It prevents micronutrient deficiencies and promotes normal growth for malnourished children by providing the Daily Recommended Intake of vitamins and minerals and improving the diet’s protein quantity and quality. 


Tearfund Belgium
Tearfund New Zealand
Private donors


Haeju City, South Hwanghae Province