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Great Lakes

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans her Department has for an integrated regional policy in the Great Lakes area; whether her Department will make a regional statement of intent to work on such a policy; and if she will make a statement. [103093]

Clare Short: My Department is actively engaged, in close collaboration with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in promoting an end to the conflict in the Great Lakes region and in preparing for regional post-conflict reconstruction and development. We are at present reviewing our strategies for post-conflict engagement in Rwanda, the DRC and Burundi in the light of recent regional developments. These documents will be made publicly available. Last week DFID hosted a roundtable discussion with a range of UK NGOs and academics to help define our approach to meeting development challenges in the DRC.

Each of these country strategies aims to set out the regional perspective of our policies and demonstrate our objectives for the region as a whole: the ending of conflict and the laying of the foundations for sustained development across the whole Great Lakes region with a consequent significant reduction in poverty

HIPC Initiative

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many countries have qualified for debt relief under the HIPC initiative; how much relief has been granted to those countries; and if she will make a statement on the prospects for qualification of other countries. [103022]

Clare Short: So far, 26 countries out of a total of 37 eligible countries have qualified for relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, and will receive over US$62 billion in debt relief. Of these, seven countries (Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda) have reached Completion Point and have received irrevocable debt relief. The remaining 19 (Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia) are receiving interim relief on their debt repayments. We expect the bulk of these countries to reach Completion Point within the next two years when they, too, will receive full debt relief. It is difficult to predict when the other 11 countries will qualify for HIPC relief, as many are still affected by conflict and governance problems. We expect the Democratic Republic of the Congo to reach its Decision Point in the coming months, and the Central African Republic, Comoros and Cote d'lvoire

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to do so later this year but, in some cases, this will depend on progress towards peace. The remaining countries (Burundi, Congo Republic, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Togo) are a long way from qualifying, as they are affected by conflict or have serious governance concerns.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether social and environmental criteria are used in addition to economic data in determining whether countries qualify for debt relief under the HIPC initiative. [103024]

Clare Short: The enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative is based on a set of clear and transparent rules, which countries entering the Initiative must meet. The IMF and the World bank work jointly with the governments of eligible countries on a debt sustainability analysis to determine their levels of debt. To qualify for relief, a country must have a debt sustainability ratio above one or other of the following HIPC thresholds: a debt stock of more than 150 per cent. of exports or of more than 250 per cent. of government revenue. Relief is provided to bring debt ratios down to these levels. This analysis is based on actual data on average exports over the previous three years and on central government revenues over the most recent year. Debt ratios reflect the impact of HIV/AIDS, droughts, and external shocks, such as changes in commodity prices, on a country's economy. Under the HIPC Initiative, additional relief—so called 'topping up'—can, when appropriate, be provided at Completion Point to ensure that countries exit the HIPC process with sustainable levels of debt. The UK is pressing for greater flexibility to ensure that this is provided wherever it is needed.

HIV/AIDS

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much her Department gave in 2002–03 (a) to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS and (b) to treat people with AIDS; and if she will make a statement. [103095]

Clare Short: My Department's HIV/AIDS effort is focused on several key areas. Bilaterally our funds are aimed primarily at supporting national policies and strategies through multisectoral HIV/AIDS plans. These strategies cover the continuum from prevention, treatment, care to impact mitigation. It is therefore not possible to aggregate the funding in the manner requested. The total of our spending on HIV/AIDS-related bilateral work for 2002–03 is not yet available. In 2001–02 our bilateral expenditure in this area was over £200 million.

Since 1997, we have committed £1.5 billion to help developing countries put in place and strengthen effective health care systems which will enable the poor to benefit from lower priced and better drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.

The Government's support for initiatives such as the Access to Medicines Working Group and Global Fund against AIDS, TB and Malaria is also facilitating increased access for poor people to HIV/AIDS treatment.

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Mr. Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate her Department has made of the income support needed by HIV and AIDS households in (a) Zambia, (b) Lesotho, (c) Malawi, (d) Mozambique, (e) Swaziland and (f) Zimbabwe, and if she will make a statement. [103094]

Clare Short: Zambia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have been deeply affected by a food security crisis brought about in part by an HIV/AIDS epidemic in the region. This crisis has increased the number of people in poverty and deepened the poverty of those already poor. There are significant challenges in establishing and targeting households that are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, not least because of the stigma attached to the disease. There is also significant variation of need and general agreement that income support per se would therefore not be the most effective assistance.

Vulnerability assessments for all six countries show that HIV/AIDS affected households suffer from depletion of assets, reduced income, and increased expenditure on health and funerals, and that the presence of orphans decreases food security and other resources in already stressed households. HIV/AIDS affected households need support to counteract these impacts. This could be provided through home-based care that included community support, basic health care, sufficient food, help with income generation and assistance with access to education. DFID is working with governments in the region to reduce the vulnerability of poor households by improving rural livelihoods, strengthening community safety nets and delivering more and better basic services, taking particular account of the needs of households affected by HIV/AIDS.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what her Department is doing to meet the targets adopted in the Declaration of Commitment signed at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV and AIDS in June 2001; what progress is being made in meeting the targets; and if she will make a statement. [103110]

Clare Short: My Department's entire HIV/AIDS programme is aimed at helping to achieve the targets agreed in the United Nations' Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.

UNAIDS is the agency tasked with measuring progress against the targets in the Declaration of Commitment. The United Nations Secretary-General will report annually based on national reports and other data collated by the United Nations. The Secretary-General's report for 2003 will be particularly important as many of the strategies for national action are due to be in place by the end of this year.

In his report on progress towards implementation of the Declaration of Commitment presented to the 57th Session of the General Assembly in 2002, the Secretary-General noted that while political commitment had increased and additional resources were devoted to HIV/AIDS, the scale of country level activities did not yet match the epidemic. In addition, while most countries had developed national AIDS strategies,

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implementation had been slow. Also, nearly one in two countries lacked a strategy for care and support of children orphaned or made vulnerable by the epidemic.

Future reports are expected to highlight progress made, identify gaps in knowledge and action, and will emphasise strategies for tackling the epidemic in the future.

Malnutrition (Eritrea and Malawi)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on levels of malnutrition in (a) Eritrea and (b) Malawi. [102747]

Clare Short: The information is as follows:

Eritrea

In a joint UN/Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) briefing on 20 February global acute malnutrition rates in children under five were quoted as between 15 and 28 per cent. in the later half of 2002. The prevalence rate of severe acute malnutrition among children in Northern and Southern Red Sea Zones was quoted as 4 per cent.

Malawi

The next round of nutritional surveys will be in April. Those conducted in November 2002 showed global acute malnutrition rates ranging from 1.5 per cent. to 4.8 per cent. These are relatively low and within the normal rates for developing countries. However, chronic malnutrition (a combination of the effect of food shortages, recurrent infections and poor care practices) remains serious. A comprehensive analysis of underlying causes is being conducted.


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