The DPRK has “achieved remarkable progress in human development in terms of key social indicators – access to health, water and sanitation, educational achievements, mortality rates,” the agency said in its latest donor update.“But there is little hope of achieving the goals in the area of reduction of child mortality and improving maternal health, without major investments in the social sector,” it added.Over the last decade, considerable progress has been made in catering to the immediate needs of the population as illustrated by the results of nutrition surveys conducted in 1998, 2002 and 2004. But malnutrition stands at 37 per cent and underweight children at 23 per cent.The country still suffers a widespread shortage of essential medicines and basic equipment due to the continued deterioration of social services and the low technical and managerial capacity. About 20 per cent of children under the age of two suffer from diarrhoeal diseases caused by contaminated water and poor hygiene practices.Shortages of textbooks, school materials and fuel for heating during the long sub-zero winters remain another concern. Learning methods have also not evolved in step with international standards. All these factors have combined to affect negatively the quality of education, UNICEF said. With the Government’s decision to discontinue humanitarian aid programmes in late 2005, large-scale aid has been interrupted and this may compromise progress already made. Just yesterday, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it would resume aid after reaching an accord in months of negotiations on new working arrangements, including some on-site monitoring, following the interruption. The agreement covers a $102-million two-year deal to support 1.9 million people, mostly women and children.