Millennium Development Goals and the DPRK

Before the 1990s, the DPRK experienced much higher levels of human development than currently exist, from life expectancy and infant mortality rates to access to health services and water and sanitation. However, the loss of markets and support from socialist countries during the early 1990s, combined with a series of natural disasters in DPRK, caused an economic crisis for the country.

Energy, food security, information infrastructure, agriculture and industrial production—all sectors/areas were affected. Per capita income fell by 50 percent, life expectancy declined and the infant mortality rate increased. From 1995 to 2005, the DPRK required external humanitarian assistance, including large quantities of food aid, to meet the basic needs of its people. While subsequent gains have been made, one third of the population continues to experience food shortages.

In the DPRK, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been “nationalised” and prioritised, with assistance from UNDP. The country is making progress toward achieving MDG 2 on primary education; there are indications that literacy and school attendance rates are high. It is also making progress on MDG 3, which sets targets for gender equality.

The government has set a target to achieve MDG 4 and 5 by reducing infant mortality ratios by two thirds and maternal mortality ratios by three quarters by 2015. Progress lags in meeting MDG 7, which sets targets for the environment, and MDG 8 on global partnerships for development.