North Korea possesses a Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and the CBS has worked with international aid agencies to collect information that the latter need in a key area: hunger and its human consequences.
Since the last survey in 2002, the proportion of young children chronically malnourished (stunted) is down from 42% to 37%. Acute malnutrition eased from 9% to 7%. But those underweight rose from 21% to 23%. Though for children under the age of two, those most at risk, this fell from 25% to 21%.
One in five children had diarrhea, and one in eight showed symptoms of acute respiratory infection. Mothers appear to have made no progress: a third were anemic and malnourished, the same figure as two years ago.
Much depends on where people are living. Things are less bad in Pyongyang and in the southwestern Hwanghae farming region as compared to the bleak northeasterly Hamgyong and Ryanggang provinces.
Even at the national level, the more than one-third (37%) of North Korean's under six who are stunted - and especially the one in eight (12%) who are severely stunted - will remain so.
[Source: Aidan Foster-Carter, senior research fellow in sociology, Leeds University, England.]