South Korea said Friday that it has decided to offer food support for North Korea worth $8 million.
Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Sang Min said the funds will be provided through the U.N. World Food Program and the U.N. Children's Fund, or UNICEF, and will mainly be used to help highly vulnerable groups including children and pregnant women.
David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program, visited Seoul earlier this week to brief South Korean ministers about the food security situation in North Korea, while seeking humanitarian support.
Earlier this month, the two U.N. agencies issued a "joint rapid food security assessment" report in which they estimated that 10.1 million people, or about 40 percent of North Korea's population, are food insecure and in urgent need of assistance.
The report called the situation "serious" and warned it could become "critical" during the lean season from May to September, prior to the annual harvest.
"A humanitarian intervention is therefore urgently required to mitigate the food production shortfall," it said.
It said prolonged dry spells, abnormally high temperatures and floods severely impacted yields of main crops harvested last September and October, while production prospects for the June harvest of early season crops are unfavorable.
On Wednesday, North Korea's official media reported that the country has suffered its severest drought in 37 years.
"According to a meteorologist, the average precipitation of the country from January to early May was 54.4 mm (millimeters), 42.3 percent of the average annual precipitation," the Korean Central News Agency said.
"It is the lowest figure since 1982" when the average precipitation in North Korea was 51.2 mm, it said.