Environmental News from Asia-Pacific:
North Korea’s office workers and factory laborers have been dispatched to farming areas around the country to join a fight against drought, state media reported on Wednesday, amid concerns over prolonged food shortages.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had called for measures to improve a tense food situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic and typhoons, despite slight improvements early last year.
Drought and floods have long posed a seasonal threat to North Korea, which lacks irrigation systems and other infrastructure, and any serious natural hazards could cripple its reclusive economy already reeling from international sanctions and a near halt of trade.
The North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said government officials and company and factory workers joined hands with farmers nationwide in distributing pumping equipment and developing water resources in drought-prone regions.
In March, the United Nations urged Pyongyang to reopen its borders to aid workers and food imports, saying its deepening isolation may have left many facing starvation.
North Korea has not officially confirmed any COVID-19 cases, but it had closed borders and travel restrictions before briefly resuming trade with China early this year.
The World Food Program estimated that even before the pandemic hit, 11 million, or more than 40 percent of the population, were undernourished and required humanitarian assistance.
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