The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

The SDC is supporting North Korea in its efforts to exploit sloping lands for agricultural purposes and to protect them against erosion. It promotes the health of the population by providing better access to clean drinking water and sanitation. It also distributes milk powder through the United Nations World Food Programme.

Map of North Korea

The SDC's activity in North Korea began in 1995 when it provided humanitarian aid for the population affected by the famine of the 1990s. In 1997 the SDC opened an office in Pyongyang which increasingly became involved in implementing development projects. Since the beginning of 2012 the SDC has been carrying out a purely humanitarian programme in North Korea. The aim is to improve food and income security, water supplies, waste water management and protection of the environment.

Agricultural use of sloping land and protection against erosion

Food shortages have forced farmers to make use of very steep sloping land. This has led to deforestation and erosion, thus increasing the risk of natural disasters.Since 2005 the SDC, in cooperation with local partners, has promoted the sustainable production of rice, potatoes, wheat and berries on sloping land. Moreover this land has been protected against erosionby planting fruit trees and grass ledges on the slopes.

Agriculture and food security

Improved health thanks to clean drinking water and sanitation

Poorly maintained water supplies and the lack of sanitary installations are the causes of many diseases. Diarrhoea and related illnesses are widespread in North Korea. Those affected suffer from the loss of valuable vitamins and calories.

Clean drinking water improves food security, reduces child mortality, combats poverty and contributes generally to better health for people in North Korea.

A programme launched by the SDC in 2012 promotes access to clean drinking water and to functioning sanitary installations by:

  • renewing source water basins and water pipelines
  • opening water kiosks for local residents
  • re-drafting guidelines on the use of drinking water together with UNICEF and the Ministry of Water


Swiss milk powder for mothers and children

Switzerland deliversmilk powderto the United Nations World Food Programme in North Korea since 1995. Local production units process the milk powder together with rice and maize, cereals and soya to create food that is rich in proteins and vitamins. About the structures of the World Food Programme and the North Korean government, annually 1.3 million children as well as pregnant and lactating mothers are guaranteed one balanced meal a day.

Food aid