North Korea suffers worst drought in nearly 40 years amid food shortage fears

Just 54.4mm (2.1in) of rain fell across the country in the first four months of this year, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

The state-run news organisation said the total amounted to about 42.3% of normal rainfall.

Previously, the worst figure recorded was 51.2mm (2in) over the same period in 1982.

In the UK, for comparison, there was 63.6mm of rainfall in January alone.

The current drought is expected to continue until the end of May, according to KCNA.

Attempts are being made to find new water sources and minimise damage to the country’s struggling agriculture industry, according to local media.

Officials in North Korea blamed bad weather and US-led economic sanctions that have been toughened in recent years due to nuclear and missile testing.

It seems unlikely that sanctions will be loosened in the near future, with the US wanting North Korea to first get rid of its nuclear capabilities.

At a summit between North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in February, the US president rejected Pyongyang’s offer of partial disarmament.

Meanwhile, the situation is growing desperate for those living in North Korea, a country which has relied on UN food aid for years.

After the worst harvest in a decade, it was announced earlier this month that daily food rations were being cut to just 300g per person.

The United Nations warned that 40% of the population (about 10 million people) are chronically short of food and do not have enough to last until the next harvest.

An investigation by the UN World Food Programme also found that many families only eat protein a few times a year.

Earlier this year, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Song, issued a rare appeal for urgent food assistance.

He blamed the bad weather – severe flooding and extremely hot temperatures last summer – but said that sanctions were also preventing North Korean farmers from feeding their country.

In a memo to the UN, he said sanctions were “barbaric and inhuman”, adding: “There is a dreadful restriction by sanctions on imports of all sorts of metal farming facilities, such as tractors, harvesters… as well as chemical fertiliser, pesticide and herbicide.”

North Korea suffered a devastating famine in the mid-1990s that the country’s leaders blamed on bad weather, but some critics said its economic system was at fault, arguing it gave no incentives to produce food.

North Korea says around 230,000 people died but some observers disagree.

Andrew Natsios, co-chairman for the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, said in a recent book that the number was more likely up to 3.5 million.

2019-05-16T10:08:11+00:00By |

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