North Korea’s leading newspaper on Tuesday warned that the country’s agriculture sector was “sustaining damage” due to an ongoing fall in average precipitation, calling for citizens to mobilize to fight damage to crops caused by an ongoing drought in the country.
In an article carried on the front page of ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun, DPRK state media reported that the country’s projected rainfall will “be far lower than the average by late May.”
“A drought phenomenon reportedly is forecast [across the country],” the article read.
Highlighting efforts in the country’s western South Hwanghae province and elsewhere to secure water supplies and ensure that the crop was not affected by the adverse weather conditions, the Rodong Sinmun reported that a “tense struggle to put in place measures to prevent drought damage is being waged.”
“Nothing, not even the worst draught can defeat the energies of the masses filled with extraordinary resolve and mobilized completely with the will to do or die,” it added.
“Officials and workers in the agricultural sector defending the main battlefront in socialist economic construction, must solemnly treasure their responsibilities, and storm to thoroughly protect farm fields from drought damage.”
North Korea’s Central Korean Television (KCTV) over the weekend reported that average rainfall had almost halved in the first few months of 2019 compared to previous years.
“The average nationwide precipitation in the January-May period is expected to be recorded as the smallest since weather observation began,” a broadcast on Saturday evening highlighted by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency stated.
The party daily in February also urged citizens to mobilize all efforts into securing water supplies, warning of a “race against time” amid a major fall in average precipitation.
“Now is not the time to wait for snow and rain while looking up to the sky,” the newspaper said in an article also carried on its front-page. “Securing water is a grave matter, which is a race against time.”
The state media coverage also comes a day after a statement by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which warned that the drought, reported to have begun in early spring, stood to “exacerbate hunger, malnutrition and health problems for thousands” of North Koreans.
“We are particularly concerned about the impact that this early drought will have on children and adults who are already struggling to survive,” Mohamed Babiker, who heads the IFRC’s operations in the DPRK, said.
One expert said Tuesday’s article was “significant in that the party daily acknowledged damage,” though contrasted it with state media coverage during more severe droughts in the past.
“To contextualize, the language about damage is weaker compared to past years of significant droughts: 1999-2001 and 2012,” said Minyoung Lee, an analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro. “The focus of the piece is about preventing drought damage, not about damage per se.”
But coming on the heels of a report last month by the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which claimed that 10.1 million in the DPRK were food insecure, the article is likely to strengthen concerns about a looming humanitarian crisis in the DPRK.
“Although some of the FAO-WFP data may be vague and imprecise, that survey and now this article in the Rodong Sinmun about drought are deeply worrisome,” Peter Ward, a writer and researcher on the North Korean economy and a contributing analyst to NK Pro, said.
“We do not really know how bad the situation is in the country at large, and how bad it might get,” he continued. “It doesn’t look as bad as the late 1990s as yet, but a long-term integrated strategy to help resolve North Korean food insecurity issues that is above politics is absolutely essential.”
Featured image: DPRK Today
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