The SDC is supporting North Korea in its efforts to exploit sloping lands for agricultural purposes and to protect them against erosion. It promotes the health of the population by providing better access to clean drinking water and sanitation. It also distributes milk powder through the United Nations World Food Programme.

The SDC's activity in North Korea began in 1995 when it provided humanitarian aid for the population affected by the famine of the 1990s. In 1997 the SDC opened an office in Pyongyang which increasingly became involved in implementing development projects. Since the beginning of 2012 the SDC has been carrying out a purely humanitarian programme in North Korea. The aim is to improve food and income security, water supplies, waste water management and protection of the environment.