Lessons learnt from WASH programmes in North Korea

The aim of this paper is to document Concern Worldwide’s extensive experience over sixteen years of WASH programing in this unique context.

Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Photo: Concern Worldwide.

North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a chronic deficit in development indicators, which are visible through aging infrastructure and limited resources for water, health, food, and fuel. The strengths of the context include the opportunity to work closely with local authorities, and the significant contribution of beneficiaries through their labour.

The challenges faced include a lack of direct access to beneficiaries and a national focus on hardware heavy projects. While programmes to date have been largely focused on hardware, there is now an opportunity to increase impact through a more holistic approach to programming. Recommendations focus on prioritising activities based on health impact, ensuring sustainability through operations, maintenance and financing, and innovation in sanitation.

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