The WFP’s Findings Parsed, by Marcus Noland

[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 »

Six million vulnerable to starvation: UN

Logo of the UN World Food Programme in SVG format

World Food Programme

In response to a request for food assistance from the DPRK, the United Nations agencies WFP, FAO, and UNICEF organized a Rapid Food Security Assessment Mission (RFSA). WFP Country Office staff assessed the situation in several counties where WFP operates, including  five counties where WFP does not currently have operations.

UN staff was joined by experts from the US NGOs and donors. Team members represented a wide variety of skills and perspectives on food and nutrition security.

The Public Distribution System (PDS) will run out of food by the start of May, substantially increasing the  risk of malnutrition and other diseases, particularly in food deficit counties.  More than six million vulnerable people are in urgent need of international food assistance.

Currently, the PDS covers about half of the daily nutritional requirements per person. Those with relatives in rural areas fare better.

The UN estimates that a total of USD 82.4 million will be required to respond to key humanitarian priorities, including USD 7 million for agriculture and food security projects.

Canadian Contribution

Worthy of note is the Canadian bilateral food aid contribution in 2010 of 260 MT of soybeans.

For the full UN report, click here. (For contributions by country see pg. 11)

Other information from Global Information Early Warning System (GIEWS) on

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea :

As of Mar 2011, included in the list of “Countries Requiring External Assistance for Food”
Normalized Difference Dekadal Vegetation Index (SPOT-4)
Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports: 201020082004200320022002200120012000,20002000199919991998199819981997199719971996199619961995
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