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19 Sept 2002 : Column 415W—continued


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the situation with regard to food and water security in rural Nepal. [63478]

Clare Short: Food insecurity in Nepal is severe and is greatest in the hill and mountain regions. There is growing concern over a possible humanitarian crisis emerging in the mid- and far-west regions of Nepal due to the initial failure of this year's monsoon in these areas.

The situation is being made worse by the conflict. The Maoists have looted food intended for development programmes, but more seriously the army has imposed food restrictions in at least 8 districts, preventing traders from going into the hills and severely restricting the food individuals can carry. The harvest is already down in these areas because of the late monsoon, and because men did not return from seasonal work in India to take part in planting. Fear of both Maoists and security forces was the key factor. With little accurate information currently available, DFID will support more intensive monitoring by the World Food Programme.

As regards water security, access to drinking water is not a major problem though the safety of this water is questionable. DFID is currently supporting programmes to enhance water supply and sanitation across rural Nepal.

Millennium Development Goals

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she estimates that, as a

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result of the G8 talks, the UK is on target to meet its millennium development goals; and if she will make a statement. [72849]

Clare Short: I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Sittingbourne and Sheppey (Mr. Wyatt) on 7 May, Official Report, column 15W. The G8 Summit focoused on the challenges facing Africa where least progress is being made. It produced valuable commitments of support for Africa in promoting peace and security; providing education for all; tackling HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis and overcoming the burden of unpayable debt. If African Governments deliver strong policy commitments, Africa can expect at least an additional $6 billion a year in development assistance, as a result of the Summit, to help accelerate its progress there towards the Goals.

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals is monitored globally by the UN Department for Social and Economic Affairs, using data provided by a range of international bodies and country governments. UN country teams lead on country-level reporting, co-ordinated by UNDP.

Commodity Prices

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the UK intends to do with other Governments to address the effect of international commodity prices in Johannesburg. [69478]

Clare Short: There are no proposals for a statement on commodity prices at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

The prices of a number of internationally traded commodities have fallen dramatically in recent years. This has had an effect in producer countries at the household level (e.g. ability to purchase food and medicines) as well as at a higher, national, level (e.g. in terms of foreign exchange earnings, debt repayment ability etc.).

Many of the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, remain dependent on a narrow range of commodity exports. We are committed to helping commodity dependent exporting countries reduce their vulnerability to the effects of world commodity prices.

The UK, through its development programme and other endeavours at the international level, is supporting a range of actions that seek to expand the trade opportunities of these countries in order to reduce their dependence on primary agricultural commodity exports. Existing trade barriers (including tariff escalation) are a major impediment to this. The UK is not only working to secure reform of international trade rules in general but also to reduce the impact of protectionist regimes such as the Common Agricultural Policy.

There is scope for creating a more favourable domestic environment within commodity dependent countries themselves. This is necessary to generate the economic growth and other conditions that contribute to developing the means by which they can reduce their vulnerability to external shocks such as unfavourable price movements. The UK provides support to a variety of activities in this regard. These range from actions to enable local institutions to become more efficient and innovative,

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through to securing improvements in the regulatory framework in order to facilitate the development of local enterprises and attract foreign investment.

World Trade Organisation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps her Department is taking to enable poor countries fully to participate in meetings of the World Trade Organisation. [66185]

Clare Short: During the normal course of WTO business in Geneva, there can be 26–40 meetings per week which some countries must cover with a delegation of 2–3 people, while others have no representation in Geneva and must follow the issues from their capital. The Ministerial Declaration at Doha made wide-ranging commitments to trade-related capacity-building for poor countries, and stated that

To meet that commitment, a task force was appointed by interested Ministers to examine the feasibility of expanding an existing organisation, the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC) into an inter-governmental organisation with a wider mandate than at present. AITIC is a Swiss NGO which has since 1998 been supporting countries with little or no representation in Geneva by drafting briefing notes on difficult issues, offering a neutral forum for discussion, organising workshops and training seminars, running an "early warning system" on key issues, etc. The UK strongly supports this work and has made a commitment of £1m to support the first phase of AITIC's work as an IGO. This forms part of the UK's overall commitment to allocate £45m (of which £38 million has already been committed) to trade-related capacity-building work between 1998 and 2003.

Development Funds

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) if she will provide a breakdown of her Department's expenditure since 1998–99 on the African Development Fund; [67510]

Clare Short: The figures requested are available in Statistics on International Development (SID), Table 8 which shows a breakdown of gross public expenditure on multilateral contributions for the last five financial years.

A copy of this publication is available in the Library of the House.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how she has responded to the appeal by the UNHCR for emergency assistance for Liberian refugees; and if she will make a statement; [68826] (2) if she will make a statement on the abduction of UNHCR nurses from the Sinje refugee camp in Liberia by LURD rebels. [68827]

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Clare Short: My Department is considering UNHCR's appeal for emergency support for Liberian refugees. I am informed that five Liberian nurses working for the non-governmental organisation MERCI were abducted from Sinje refugee camp in north-west Liberia on 20 June. Their abduction from the UNHCR-run camp, where they provided healthcare to residents, followed attacks on the camp by LURD rebels. Despite attempts by UNHCR and others to locate and secure the release of the nurses, their whereabouts is still unknown.

Basic Education Project, Nigeria

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what financial support her Department is giving in 2002–03 to the Universal Basic Education Project in Nigeria. [65756]

Clare Short: In support of the Federal Government of Nigeria's efforts to achieve Universal Basic Education, the Department for International Development has funded the Support to Education Sector Analysis and Planning Project. This £556,000 project is providing assistance to Nigeria for their implementation of Universal Basic Education.

In addition to this, my department is at present collaborating closely with the World Bank towards the development of a programme of Technical Assistance that will assist Nigeria in working towards the achievement of the Universal Basic Education Millennium Goal. This proposal will be submitted to Senior Management for approval within the next few weeks.


Mr. Colman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what efforts have been made to support the peace process in Sudan under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority of Drought (a) through diplomatic means and (b) through financial assistance. [69231]

Clare Short: The UK has engaged fully and been present as an observer throughout the latest round of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks from 17 June to 20 July in Machakos, Kenya. To date we have provided £101,119 in financial support to the IGAD secretariat.

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