[Marc Noland of Peterson IIE has done extensive work on the entire food assistance situation, including the facts on the ground, and the policy dilemma of whether food aid has the unfortunate byproduct of unintentionally helping to underwrite the DPRK's nuclear program. He weighed in on the Food Aid Debate on 5 April 2011.]
The World Food Program, Food and Agricultural Organization and UNICEF have released their potentially fateful report on the North Korean food situation (formally, “WFP/FAO/UNICEF Rapid Food Security Assessment Mission to the DPRK, March 24 2011″). Although these assessments are a staple of public discussions on North Korean food security issues, for multiple reasons the balance sheet exercise that is reported is almost surely inaccurate, possibly by a large margin—if taken seriously, the past WFP/FAO reports would imply that North Korea was in almost continuous famine for the past decade, something no one asserts.
Nevertheless, these reports are so central to the public discussion that they are worth parsing. Read the rest of this entry »