|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
7. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support her Department offers to ensure public water supply and electricity supply to communities in poorer countries; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Mullin: We live in a world where over one billion people lack access to safe water, 2.4 billion lack adequate sanitation, and a similar number have no electricity in their homes. Water and sanitation are fundamental to health and well-being. Electricity is essential for cooking, lighting and opportunities for small-scale enterprises. Last year my Department provided over £60 million to improve access to water supply and sanitation and £40 million for electricity services.
25 Apr 2001 : Column: 298W
Assistance by the European Commission to Egypt was approximately £93 million in 1999, of which the UK contribution was £16.5 million, which is the latest year for which figures are available. Budget allocations for 2001 and 2002 have yet to be agreed.
Clare Short: Britain is providing assistance to the Palestinian Authority to help reduce poverty and support democratic and accountable government in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinians are suffering badly from the effects of the current conflict and the economic sanctions imposed by Israel.
Clare Short: Although a middle-income country, Peru has a serious poverty problem with 41 per cent. of the population classed as poor and 15 per cent. as extremely poor and unable to meet food needs. The Government of President Fujimori grew increasingly corrupt before it collapsed in late 2000 and in the process undermined and reversed the progress on poverty reduction that they had achieved in the mid 1990s.
After the interim Paniagua Government was formed in November 2000, we concluded that our future strategy should remain focused on the problem of inequality in Peru and would be centred on enabling poor people, especially indigenous groups and women, to realise their social and economic rights, play their full role in society and get out of poverty. Once the Peruvian presidential election (now going to a second round in May or June) is decided and a new elected Government takes office on 28 July, we will open discussions with them on the future shape of our support for poverty elimination. We will seek to work with the Peruvian Government, civil society and the international community to maximise progress towards meeting the international development targets in Peru.
25 Apr 2001 : Column: 299W
Clare Short: HIV/AIDS is the single most important development challenge in Africa. The epidemic is undermining economic growth and fundamentally threatens social and economic development. DFID continues to give greatest priority to prevention, but we also support efforts to the personal, social and economic impact of illness and death caused by the disease.
As national strategic plans to tackle the epidemic improve, we have begun to place our support within the framework of those plans. For example, we have recently approved significant HIV/AIDS-related programmes in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe totalling over £60 million, and a £20 million programme is being designed to support Mozambique. A new programme for South Africa is also planned for this year. We have also committed £7.5 million to a regional initiative on HIV/AIDS with the Southern Africa Development Community. Last month, I approved a £25 million programme under the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa to support the efforts of Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi and other countries to curtail the spread and reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS.
14. Mr. Tynan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the measures her Department is taking to strengthen the international effort to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. 
Clare Short: The Chancellor and I announced, as part of the global child poverty initiative, several tax measures and purchase fund options, to help increase access to medicines in developing countries. My Department is in discussion with other countries, international organisations, the private sector and civil society, to explore further options to increase international investment to tackle the diseases of poverty in developing countries, including the establishment of a global purchase fund for commodities for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and diseases of childhood. In addition, we continue to encourage the EC to rapidly implement its programme of action for tackling the major communicable diseases.
We are also currently supporting a number of innovative public private partnerships aimed at tackling the diseases of poverty. These include £14 million for the international AIDS vaccine initiative and support for the global alliance for vaccines, the medicines for malaria venture, and LAPDAP to treat drug-resistant malaria. In addition, the UK strongly supports the World Health Organisation-led roll back malaria initiative, which provides the vehicle for concerted action to deliver more widely the benefits of currently available methods of malaria control to the poorest.
Finally, we continue to work with developing countries to strengthen their basic health systems capable of delivering drugs correctly and without which poor people will be unable to access the necessary drugs in their communities.
25 Apr 2001 : Column: 300W
reproductive health programmes and action against HIV/ AIDS since 1997; and how much it plans to spend in the next financial year. 
Clare Short: The recent press reports that have suggested that DFID-sponsored research on genetically modified fish is being carried out in secret were false. Results are published and designed to help developing countries to decide for themselves whether they want to use these technologies.
The one current project is investigating genetic modification techniques to accelerate the growth rate and confer sterility in tilapia, a freshwater fish widely farmed in Africa and Asia. Each stage in the progression of this research depends on evidence of the balance between risk and potential benefits. Two assessments of environmental impact have ben undertaken and a third commissioned. Socio-economic studies will help to provide a better understanding of how poor producers and consumers could benefit.
No genetically modified fish have been released from this project. Any controlled field testing will depend on the outcome of current studies. We would only consider a partnership with a developing country where appropriate bio-safety regulations are in place and with the full co-operation of the relevant local authorities.
Clare Short: I have since 1997 kept our development programme in Zimbabwe under regular review. As part of this process, I have had discussions with and from representations a variety of interested parties from Zimbabwe, the UK and elsewhere. We remain committed to helping the poorest in Zimbabwe who are suffering the combined effect of economic mismanagement and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But the situation in Zimbabwe is difficult and we continue to work only where we are confident our support can be effective.
For that reason, I have closed 12 development projects and suspended or substantially modified five others in the last 12 months. Most recently, we wrote to the Zimbabwe Government on 6 April informing them that we were ending our support to the Privatisation Agency of
25 Apr 2001 : Column: 301W
Zimbabwe and to a Trade Policy Capacity Building Programme. In the continued absence of Government policies likely to reverse current economic decline and reduce poverty, I concluded that those projects were likely to have little beneficial impact for the people of Zimbabwe.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|