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5 Jan 2004 : Column 40Wcontinued
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the average wage paid to engineers from (a) Iraq, (b) the USA and (c) the UK who are working on reconstruction projects in Iraq is. 
Hilary Benn: Insufficient information is available on rates of pay for individuals working in Iraq to be able to assess average wages for particular professions or nationalities. DFID's policy is not to make public the salaries paid to individual consultants and contractors.
It can reasonably be assumed that pay rates for engineers working in Iraq vary significantly according to the qualifications, experience and circumstances of the individual, the type of contract and the employing organisation.
Hilary Benn: Iraqi engineers are already involved in identifying Iraq's reconstruction needs, setting priorities and supporting implementation of projects. UN agencies and NGOs employ large numbers of Iraqi technical staff including engineers. In the south DFID funds the Recovery and Infrastructure Group (RIG), which is refurbishing key government buildings, and another project, which is rehabilitating the offices for the Governorate teams. We are also funding the Emergency Infrastructure Project, which is carrying out emergency refurbishment of power, water and fuel supply infrastructure. The consultants leading those projects employ Iraqi engineers as integral members of their teams. DFID staff have been impressed by the technical competence of the Iraqi engineers.
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if his Department will work with the Coalition Provisional Authority to ensure that efforts are made in the forthcoming school year to ensure gender equality for (a) the number of children attending school and (b) the number of children taking exams in Iraq. 
Hilary Benn: DFID is funding three education advisers to work with CPA South and liaise with CPA, including on gender equality. We have provided significant support in Iraq to UNICEF, who share our concerns about all Iraqi children being able to complete their schooling and who have a particular responsibility for championing gender equality. Over the coming year we also expect to make a substantial contribution to the multi-donor trust fund for Iraq, a significant proportion of which is likely to be used to support the education sector.
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Regular contact between the Government and Ambassador Bremer is conducted through the Prime Minister's Special Representative to Iraq, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. DFID staff in Baghdad are also in frequent contact with US officials in the Coalition Provisional Authority.
Hilary Benn: The commitments made by the Government of Rwanda in the UK/Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding are drawn in large part from Rwanda's Poverty Reduction Strategy, the National Programme for Strengthening Good Governance for Poverty Reduction, the international and African human rights agreements which the Government have ratified, and the regional peace and stability Agreements which the Government have signed. The Government's accountability for honouring their commitments therefore primarily rests with the Rwandan people, through Parliament and civil society organisations. We are helping the Government to meet their commitments through maintaining a constructive dialogue with key individuals and organisations, by establishing regional and national networks, for example between Governments and between Government and civil society, and by providing targeted technical assistance.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the notification process is for informing the Rwandan Government of any failure to adhere to the Memorandum of Understanding. 
Hilary Benn: Should we believe that the Government of Rwanda have taken or plans to take action incompatible with their commitments within the UK/Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding, we would formally notify the Government of Rwanda of our concern, drawing their attention to the potential implications of a failure to honour their commitments, and discuss what remedial action might be taken and how the UK might support such action. Notification could be effected through a written exchange between myself and His Excellency the President of Rwanda or, on my instructions, at a local level.
The UK/Rwandan Memorandum of Understanding provides for a period of discussion between the two Governments, before any decision to change the UK's programme of assistance is made. Our aim in any re-change in our engagement will be to continue to make the greatest possible impact on poverty in Rwanda.
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Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that the Southern Africa Hunger and Vulnerability Strategy will have sufficient resources to ensure that the lessons learned from the International Development Committee enquiry on the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa are acted upon. 
Hilary Benn: The Southern Africa Hunger and Vulnerability Strategy has been developed in response to the issues raised in the International Development Select Committee's Report. We will work to strengthen vulnerability monitoring and assessment systems that can feed into the design of safety nets in the region and will explore how the role of the private sector in enhancing food security can be encouraged. We also intend to provide support for policy networks working on food security issues in Southern Africa so that a longer-term focus on regional food security can be maintained.
We are in the process of designing a programme of support along these lines. We will look for opportunities to work with national Governments and with bilateral and multilateral donors in order that DFID's resources can leverage longer-term investment in regional food security.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken to ensure food aid in southern Africa is (a) only distributed where it can be demonstrated to be the best response and (b) allocated on the basis of national Vulnerable Assessment Committee data. 
Hilary Benn: DFID is one of the major funders of Vulnerability Assessment Committees in Southern Africa. We continue to support the work of the VACs in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe in an effort to better track vulnerability trends, and to provide a more detailed assessment of humanitarian needs and the most appropriate response to them.
VAC data has already been used to help programme our response to current humanitarian needs in the region. We are providing support for food aid operations in Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique, where VACs have recommended continued food aid programming. In situations where food aid is not considered to be an appropriate response, we are providing a range of other support aimed at encouraging agricultural recovery. Seed fairs, targeted input schemes, and support for public works programmes that provide incomes for the rural poor, are examples of non-food aid relief that DFID is currently funding.
Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans the Government has to (a) prevent the deterioration of health and education services in southern Africa as a consequence of the HIV/AIDS crisis and (b) support the strengthening of these services. 
Hilary Benn: DFID is currently working on this issue at a number of levels. Activities in the southern Africa region include increasing information on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the social services; the promotion of
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national plans that address its impact; funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation programmes; and capacity building support for health and education services. DFID is working closely with Governments, civil society, the private sector, and other donors to tackle HIV and AIDS which is the major challenge for the region.
The Government's recent "Call for Action on HIV/AIDS" promises to make HIV/AIDS a priority for the additional £320 million a year which DFID will be devoting to Africa by 2006, fulfilling the UK pledge to increase development assistance to Africa to £1 billion per annum.
Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the impact of the breakdown of the world trade talks in Cancun on developing countries. 
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