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DATE=10/27/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-240756 TITLE=NORTH KOREA / FAMINE (L-ONLY) BYLINE=STEPHANIE HO DATELINE=BEIJING CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE HEAD OF THE UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM SAYS THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN FAMINE-STRICKEN NORTH KOREA HAS IMPROVED. AS VOA'S STEPHANIE HO REPORTS FROM BEIJING, THE U-N-D-P OFFICIAL SAYS MORE FOCUS SHOULD ALSO BE GIVEN TO AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT. TEXT: ALTHOUGH THIS WAS HIS FIRST VISIT TO NORTH KOREA, U-N-D-P ADMINISTRATOR JAMES GUSTAVE SPETH SAYS THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION THERE APPEARS TO BE BETTER. // SPETH ACT // ON THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION, I WOULD SAY THAT AS COMPARED WITH TWO YEARS AGO, THE SITUATION IS MUCH IMPROVED. THE WIDESPREAD FAMINE THAT WAS A POSSIBILITY HAS BEEN AVERTED DUE TO THE CONCERTED INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE AND THE COOPERATION OF THE D-P-R-K AUTHORITIES IN THIS INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE. // END ACT // MR. SPETH SAYS ONE PROBLEM THAT STILL REMAINS IS WIDESPREAD UNDERNOURISHMENT, ESPECIALLY FOR OLDER CHILDREN. HE ADDS THAT CROP PRODUCTION FOR THIS YEAR IS ESTIMATED TO BE ABOUT THREE MILLION METRIC TONS -- WHICH HE SAYS IS ONLY TWO-THIRDS OF THE BASIC NEED. BUT HE SAYS THE U-N-D-P IS NOT A RELIEF AGENCY AND IS MORE CONCERNED WITH RECONSTRUCTION AND REBUILDING IN NORTH KOREA. // SPETH ACT // MY PRINCIPLE CONCERN, HOWEVER, WAS NOT THE HUMANITARIAN PROGRAM, BUT THE ISSUE OF THE AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY IN THE COUNTRY. // END ACT // MR. SPETH SAYS HUMANITARIAN AID CANNOT BE SUSTAINED WITHOUT AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY. // SPETH ACT // THE SPENDING ON FOOD AID AND HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMS IS ROUGHLY 400- MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. WE ESTIMATE FOR LESS THAN A THIRD OF THAT, WE CAN PROVIDE THE EXTERNAL ASSISTANCE NEEDED FOR AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY IN THE COUNTRY. // END ACT // MR. SPETH SAYS A U-N-D-P AGRICULTURAL RECOVERY PROGRAM WOULD REQUIRE A LITTLE MORE THAN 100 MILLION DOLLARS EACH YEAR FOR THREE YEARS. HE SAYS PART OF THE MONEY WILL BE SPENT TO BUY FERTILIZER AND OTHER AGRICULTURAL INPUTS. OTHER COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAM INCLUDE FLOOD DAMAGE RECOVERY, IRRIGATION REHABILITATION, RE-FORESTATION EFFORTS AND BIOLOGICALLY RESPONSIBLE PEST CONTROL METHODS. (SIGNED) NEB/HO/FC 27-Oct-98 3:52 AM EST (0852 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .