|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
16. Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the welfare of children in Kosovo. 
Clare Short: Following the crisis in 1999 we provided £4.5 million to UNICEF for support to schools. Since then we have collaborated with UNMIK and the World Bank in a wide-ranging review of social policy in Kosovo. We are now working jointly with them on social policy reform, which includes the provision of social assistance to families and children in need and social services for the protection of children. We have funded the development by the World bank of a living standards measurement survey for Kosovo, which assesses the situation of families to assist the design and monitoring of social services and benefits. In parallel with this, we are providing support to UNMIK for the strengthening of the Institute of Social Policy which will set standards and quality assurance for children's services across Kosovo. We are also supporting UNMIK with a review of cash benefit systems.
17. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on relieving third-world debt. 
Clare Short: Twenty-three countries have now qualified for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, with three countries Bolivia, Mozambique and Uganda having completed the HIPC process. More than $53 billion of debt relief has been agreed for those countries, which together owe $74 billion, so a major part of their debt has been written off. The money released is spent on poverty reduction.
The impact of that debt reduction means that social expenditure (primarily on health and education) in those countries is projected to rise by $1.7 billion per year. On average, these countries are expected to spend more than three times as much on social sectors in 200102 as on debt service. We hope that a further three countriesGhana, Ethiopia and Sierra Leonewill reach their Decision Point this year. But the prospects of the 11 remaining eligible countries qualifying for relief in the near future are slim, as they are affected by conflict or have yet to demonstrate their commitment to reform. Greater progress on conflict resolution is needed so that these countries can qualify for debt relief.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress she has made in working with her counterparts in (a) Europe and (b) other western nations to reduce the burden of debt in less developed countries. 
24 Oct 2001 : Column: 299W
Clare Short: The international community continues to emphasise its commitment to reducing the debt burden of the poorest indebted countries, so that additional resources could be released for poverty reduction. At Genoa, the G8 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Also, the Paris Club of Official Bilateral Creditors, which brings together its 19 permanent members from Europe and elsewhere, have agreed to participate fully in the HIPC process, delivering debt relief to countries that have qualified for HIPC.
Twenty-three countries have now qualified for HIPC relief, with three countries Bolivia, Mozambique and Uganda having completed the HIPC process. More than $53 billion of debt relief has been agreed for those countries, which together owe $74 billion, so a major part of their debt has been written off.
We hope that a further three countriesGhana, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone will reach their Decision Point this year. But the prospects of the 11 remaining eligible countries qualifying for relief in the near future are slim, as they are affected by conflict or have yet to demonstrate their commitment to reform. Greater progress on conflict resolution is needed so that these countries can qualify for debt relief.
The UK is playing a key role in the development of the new Global Health Fund which is designed to make available drugs and commodities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria in the poorest countries. We have committed £125 million to this initiative which will benefit the poor in Africa and elsewhere.
In addition, the Government are exploring the potential of a number of options for increasing the long-term affordability and availability of treatment for HIV/AIDS and related infections, while maintaining a focus on the development of sustainable health systems which is needed to deliver them.
19. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action she is taking to ensure that developing nations benefit from negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services. 
Clare Short: The current negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) offer developing countries the potential to gain access to new markets overseas and to benefit from more efficient and competitive services at home. Developing countries are particularly interested in the liberalisation of sectors where they have the greatest export potential. At present these are tourism and the temporary movement of people to work outside their home countries.
My officials are working closely with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ensure that UK and EU policy on trade in services takes development considerations into account.
We are also working with the UN Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on a £350,000 project to strengthen developing country involvement in the services negotiations in Geneva.
24 Oct 2001 : Column: 300W
21. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in what ways her Department contributes to improving the education of women in the poorest countries. 
Clare Short: Education is a precondition for development and poverty reduction. Investment in education for girls has been shown consistently to be one of the most important determinants of development, with positive implications for all other measures of progress. We are strongly committed to the international development targets of achieving universal primary education (UPE) by 2015 and gender equity in primary and secondary schooling by 2005. My Department's education strategy paper, "The challenge of universal primary education", recognises that achievement of UPE requires unwavering commitment to gender equality. Developing country Governments need to mainstream gender through all their policies and practices and have a real and sustained commitment to change. Since 1997 we have committed over £600 million to support sustainable primary education programmes, all with a strong focus on gender equality. We will do more. Our paper on "Poverty elimination and the empowerment of women" also indicates our commitment to stronger collaboration and co-ordination for the achievement of gender equality among donors, including the European Union, the UN system, the World bank and other international financial institutions.
23. Barbara Follett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures her Department is taking to help southern African countries combat HIV/AIDS. 
Clare Short: HIV/AIDS is the major development challenge in Southern Africa, and a priority for my Department's funding in that region.
Building on previous (primarily health) HIV/AIDS initiatives which we have supported in South Africa, I have recently approved the design phase of a £40 million over four years HIV/AIDS Multisectoral Support Programme, the aim of which is to reduce the number of new HIV infections and the impact of HIV/AIDS on individuals, families and communities.
Also under way is the Regional HIV/AIDS Programme, a commitment of £7.5 million over four years channelled through the SADC Health Sector Co-ordinating Unit, with coverage to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland. The aim of this programme is to develop the capacity within each country, and across the region, to mount an effective response to the HIV epidemic.
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what further assistance she proposes to deal with AIDS in Africa. 
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 in many countries. We know what needs to be done to tackle the
24 Oct 2001 : Column: 301W
disease, and I strongly believe that commitments by the international community must now be transformed into a world wide effort to contain the spread of the disease.
My Department continues to give greatest priority to prevention, but we also place great emphasis on reducing 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 support of the national response in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe totalling over £60 million, £25 million for Ghana and a £20 million programme is being designed to support Mozambique. A major new multi sectoral HIV programme for South Africa is also planned for this year. We have also committed £25 million to support the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa, and £7.5 million to a regional initiative on HIV/AIDS with the Southern Africa Development Community. We are providing £65 million in support of the Nigerian Government's efforts to control the spread of HIV.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|