North Korea is experiencing its worst drought in over a century, official media reported Friday May 17th, days after the World Food Programme expressed "very serious concerns" about the situation in the country.
The isolated, impoverished North, which is under several sets of sanctions over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes, has long struggled to feed itself, and suffers chronic food shortages, AFP has reported.
It recorded its worst harvest for a decade last year, according to the United Nations, down by 500,000 tonnes, as natural disasters, combined with its lack of arable land and inefficient agriculture all hit production.
In the year to Wednesday May 15th the North received just 56.3 millimetres of rain or snow, the Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported Friday, the lowest since 1917.
Water was running out of the country's lakes and reservoirs, said the paper, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, adding: "the ongoing drought is causing a significant effect on the cultivation of wheat, barley, corn, potatoes and beans."
In their most recent estimates, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme (WFP) said about 10.1 million North Koreans, 40% of the population, were suffering from severe food shortages, a similar figure to recent years.
North Koreans have been surviving on just 300g (10.5oz) of food a day so far this year, according to a UN report quoted by the BBC.