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Poverty Reduction Strategies

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the adoption and implementation of effective poverty reduction strategies by 2004 in all countries accessing International Development Association high impact or adjustment lending. [148520]

Hilary Benn: All countries accessing resources, including adjustment loans, from the concessional lending arm of the World Bank—the International Development Association (IDA)—are required to have completed, or be in the process of completing, full Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). Of the 53 countries that are already in the process, 32 are implementing full PRSPs. In 2003, 14 countries with interim strategies moved to full PRSPs. It is expected that, during 2004, a similar number of interim strategies will be finalised.

DFID attaches importance to countries preparing their PRSPs in a way that builds and sustains country ownership through broad participation and consultation. Some countries take longer than others to finalise their PRSPs, particularly if they are affected by conflict.

DFID continues to press for improvements in the PRSP process to correct weaknesses that have been identified, such as inadequate specification of priorities, insufficient attention to public expenditure management systems, and weak analysis of the poverty impact of policies. We welcome the progress which IDA is making in aligning its assistance in support of PRSPs, and are encouraging other multilateral and bilateral donors to do so, too.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of (a) the level and (b) the effectiveness of humanitarian aid in Southern Sudan. [148124]

Hilary Benn: For 2003 the UN reports that $237 million was provided for humanitarian assistance in Sudan, compared to a Humanitarian Appeal of $262 million: although the UN do not provide a breakdown, more than half of this is spent in south Sudan. In 2004 the UN is requesting $465 million. The larger amount this year takes into account the need to fund a wider range of activities in expectation of a peace agreement to end the civil war.

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We consider humanitarian aid in south Sudan to be effective. We provide significant support to agencies who are active there.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many international secondments have been made by his Department to Sudan in each of the last three years; and if he will list their responsibilities. [148125]

Hilary Benn: There are two members of DFID staff seconded to Sudan :


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent estimate he has made of the (a) level and (b) geographical distribution of food shortages in Tanzania. [148123]

Hilary Benn: The Government of Tanzania (GoT) carried out an initial crop assessment in May 2003 followed by a rapid vulnerability assessment in July. A further vulnerability assessment will not be appropriate until after the February 2004 harvest is complete. However, food insecurity remains widespread with pockets of scarcity in at least 17 regions of Tanzania. As requested by GoT, DFID is funding Save the Children and Oxfam to facilitate the production of a food security update over the coming month.

UN GDP Target

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development by when the Government are committed to achieving the UN target of 0.7 per cent. of national income to be spent on development assistance. [148456]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

Since 1997 the UK's level of official development assistance (oda) has increased in real terms by 93 per cent. UK oda will reach an oda/gni ratio of 0.40 per cent. in 2005–06, up from 0.33 per cent. in 2003–04, exceeding the EU target of 0.39 per cent. for member states, and more double the current G7 average of 0.19 per cent. The UK remains committed to the UN target of 0.7 per cent. oda/GNI and to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. To this end the Chancellor has proposed an International Finance Facility that would raise an additional £50 billion per year for development assistance up to 2015. Any timetable for reaching 0.7 per cent. oda/GNI will be a matter for future Parliaments.


John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact which the decision of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to commence foreign currency auctions will have on the ability of aid agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance in the country. [147775]

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Hilary Benn: As a result of the new auction system, the sale of foreign exchange at a realistic rate within Zimbabwe is now legal. This should make financial operations easier for aid agencies when exchanging their foreign exchange for Zimbabwe dollars and we do not expect it to have any negative impact on the ability of aid agencies to deliver humanitarian assistance.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) how much money his Department has contributed since the start of the 2003–04 financial year through (a) non-governmental organisations and (b) UN feeding programmes to assist the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe; and how much he plans to spend in 2004–05; [148542]

Hilary Benn: The information requested is as follows:


1. So far this financial year DFID have spent £20.5 million in Zimbabwe, from a total budget of £35 million. Of the total budget, we have committed £5 million to WFP for general food distribution and we are considering a further contribution. £19 million will be channelled through NGOs for targeted food distributions and subsistence farming inputs. The remaining funds are for HIV/AIDS mitigation, prevention and basic vaccines. Due to the anticipated continuation of the humanitarian crisis, funding for the financial year 2004–05 is expected to be at a similar level.

Vulnerability assessment

2. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) conducts the national vulnerability assessments that form the basis of the humanitarian response. This committee is composed of government, NGO and UN Agencies' representatives. The most recent assessment undertaken by the ZimVAC is the Urban Vulnerability Assessment, which the Government are expected to release by the end of this month.

Crop forecast

3. Initial government crop forecasts are usually made by the end of January. However, given the present capacity of the Government, these are unlikely to be accurate or reliable. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation are already working on their own forecasts which should also be available at the end of January. Preliminary estimates by one of the major donors suggest a harvest of around 500,000 MT of maize. This compares to a 2003 cereal harvest of about 900,000 MT and a cereal requirement of approximately 2 million MT.


4. (a) The most recent national nutrition survey, conducted in February 2003, showed that levels of acute malnutrition were relatively low throughout Zimbabwe (approximately 5 per cent.) in comparison to other

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food-based emergencies, suggesting the effective coverage of the humanitarian relief operation. However, levels of severe acute malnutrition are disproportionately high relative to levels of moderate malnutrition, suggesting a high incidence of paediatric HIV/AIDS. Provinces with the highest rates of acute malnutrition were Manicaland (6.6 per cent.) and Midlands (6.0 per cent.).

Unmet needs

(b) Unmet needs exist most evidently in areas that were not addressed by the original UN WFP operation in the expectation that the Zimbabwean Government would make food and agricultural inputs available. These areas include the former commercial farming areas and urban centres such as Harare and Bulawayo. The humanitarian community is working to address these needs.

Food aid dependence

(c) Dependence on food aid is a concern, particularly in areas of low employment and agricultural activity, such as Binga District where approximately 90 per cent. of the population are dependent on food aid. DFID is working in collaboration with development partners to reduce food aid dependence by providing agricultural inputs to enable subsistence farmers to grow food crops to feed themselves.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assistance his Department (a) has given and (b) plans to give to humanitarian aid workers affected by the banking crisis in Zimbabwe; [148637]

Hilary Benn: The information is as follows:

Humanitarian aid workers affected by the banking crisis

My Department is in frequent contact with the non-governmental organisations delivering UK funded humanitarian aid in Zimbabwe. The banking crisis has not significantly affected their operating capacity so far but we will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Impact of the banking crisis

The main impact of the banking crisis has been that cheques from a few, generally newer, banks were not accepted by a number of retailers and the more established banks. Few, if any, of the aid agencies and their employees working with my Department have accounts with these banks. Following the intervention of the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank, these affected banks are now clearing their cheques again and individuals have been able to access their accounts.

WFP funding shortfall

On 16 January 2004 the World Food Programme's appeal of approximately US$195 million for the current emergency operation in Zimbabwe was 80 per cent. funded. The funding shortfall is therefore approximately US$39 million. DFID have already committed £5 million to WFP operations in Zimbabwe

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this financial year and we are currently considering a further pledge. DFID will contribute approximately £30 million to humanitarian operations this year and has contributed a total of £62 million since the start of the crisis in September 2001.

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