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17 Nov 2004 : Column 1519W—continued

Temporary Secondments

Mr. Wilkinson: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission what plans there are for temporary secondments of staff of the House to work in the offices of hon. Members. [198880]

Sir Archy Kirkwood : There are no plans for temporary secondments of staff of the House to work in the offices of hon. Members.



Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to his reply of 8 November to the right hon. and learned Member for Folkstone and Hythe (Mr. Howard), Official Report, column 572, if he will list reconstruction programmes in (a) Samarra and (b) Najaf, broken down by (i) type and (ii) amount; how many (A) Iraqi and (B) foreign workers are expected to participate; and what the source of funding will be in each case. [197898]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: In and around Samarra, the interim Iraqi Government (IIG) is carrying out 75 projects worth $25 million, in the sectors of healthcare, education, and infrastructure. The main activities include: building new primary and secondary schools; rehabilitating hospitals; restoring historical sites and recreational areas; expanding the telephone network; and repairing the water and sewage system.

United States agencies (the Project and Contracting Office, USAID and military reconstruction teams) report that they have 48 construction projects and three non-construction projects in progress in Samarra worth $8.9 million, broken down by sector into: civil sector (14), education (14), electricity (3), health (4), transport (5), water and sanitation (9), governance (1),
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and agriculture (1). Plans and activities include reconstructing 43 primary and secondary schools and 11 mosques, improvements to a local veterinary clinic, and the donation of medical books. Most of these projects will generate jobs for local Iraqis. The US reports that a further 51 projects are scheduled to take place over December 2004 and January 2005, totalling $5 million.

In Najaf, the interim Iraqi Government is undertaking an extensive programme of reconstruction. The Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works has reported that it will spend nearly $650 million on water and sanitation, especially in the old part of the city. Other IIG announcements include plans to spend $55 million on Government buildings in the area, and the Ministry of Telecommunications has signed a contract with a foreign company to build a new communications centre and supply equipment. Plans are also underway to assist hotel owners as the city is visited by thousands of pilgrims monthly and this is central to the local economy.

United States agencies, working with the Iraqi Ministry of Planning and Development Cooperation and other central Ministries, report that they have 171 construction projects and 22 non-construction projects in progress in Najaf, totalling around $30 million. These projects can be broken down by sector into: education (110), electricity (3), health (10), humanitarian assistance (24), governance (23), transport (2), water and sanitation (10), agriculture (2), civil society (15), and economy (4). US funded activities include: the rehabilitation of Najaf main market; sewer and waterline repair; the installation of electrical poles; the purchase of garbage and street cleaning trucks; and the rehabilitation of health clinics.

It is not possible to list the numbers of foreign and Iraqi contractors participating in these projects, as there is currently no comprehensive database of information available. It is understood that the need for more extensive reporting of projects and contractors will be discussed at a forthcoming IIG/donor coordination meeting.


Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had with the (a) Government of Afghanistan and (b) the United Nations on the production of heroin in Afghanistan. [197802]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: Opium poppy cultivation is s a growing and complex problem in Afghanistan. It is widely expected that the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime (UNODC) 2004 poppy survey will show a substantial increase in poppy cultivation and opium production from the previous year. Many Afghan farmers are locked into growing opium poppy as the only means of repaying debts, accessing land, earning cash income and providing security for themselves and their families. To promote the availability of alternative livelihoods and rural development in Afghanistan, DFID is supporting a number of initiatives through individual funded projects and support for Afghan Government and United Nations programmes.
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The UK is lead nation on counter-narcotics and we provide significant support to the Afghan National Drug Control Strategy. DFID has lead responsibility for the alternative livelihoods component and plan to increase our commitment from the current level of £5.5 million per year to £20 million in 2005–06. The support of the international community and strong ownership and lead from the Afghan Government will be crucial to achieving future reductions in opium poppy cultivation.

DFID continues to participate in discussions with the Government of Afghanistan on the institutional arrangements for implementing the National Drug Control Strategy, including the establishment of a Counter-narcotics Ministry, an accelerated programme to pilot comprehensive development and counter-narcotics law enforcement in key provinces, tackling the opium debt problem and on how to make national development more effective in creating sustainable and attractive alternative livelihood opportunities.

An example of the key role DFID is playing is the way we are working with the Afghan Government and International donor community to help communities develop their own livelihoods through the Afghan National Solidarity Programme. To date, the programme has provided US$36 million to 3,775 village development projects. In the Yakdharu village in the Badakhshan province, for example, democratically elected development councils agreed to spend the grant provided through the National Solidarity Programme on establishing micro-hydro electric power from the village stream. As a result the villagers now have an asset that provides sustainable electricity to the whole community and a surplus to supply surrounding villages, generating an additional income for the community. The success of this project has encouraged the community to invest their own money into other infrastructure projects and a seed bank using the community development council mechanism. DFID has committed £13 million to the National Solidarity Programme, which is planned to cover all 20,000 villages in Afghanistan by 2007.

To ensure the Afghan Government can effectively manage development in the province, DFID has provided £20 million funding to the Afghanistan Stabilisation Programme, which is developing links between the central Government and the provinces as well as strengthening the capacity of provincial and district public administration.

We are in regular contact with the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime, who are also engaged in discussions on ensuring that counter-narcotics issues are addressed in Afghan Government and donor programmes and provincial piloting. DFID has recently approved an Alternative Agricultural Livelihoods Programme with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) budgeted at £3.8 million over 2.5 years, and we are also in regular dialogue with the FAO on the implementation of this programme. DFID is also in contact with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), all of which have programmes related to alternative livelihoods, for example through labour-intensive public works or private sector development. DFID has regular contacts
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with the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) on a number of issues, including drug production.

Aid Programmes

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of aid programmes involving the supply of animals and the infrastructure to support them for transport and trading produce purposes in remote areas of the developing world; what support the Department is giving to such programmes; and if he will make a statement. [197555]

Mr. Gareth Thomas: DFID is currently supporting initiatives in excess of £500,000 to improve the marketing of food crops through appropriate transport for poor farmers in Uganda and Kenya. Local forms of transport that are distributed to farmers' groups include oxen, ox-carts, donkeys, donkey-carts and bicycles.

In 2002, DFID funded an assessment of local transport solutions for the rural poor that highlighted lessons arising from the World Bank's experience in Sub-Saharan Africa. A key conclusion of the assessment is the need to place greater emphasis on local transport solutions, which have wider benefits for the poor living in remote rural areas, particularly those based on animal traction.

DFID has continued to fund programmes associated with this study; for example the International Forum for Rural Transport and Development, which promotes improvements in mobility and accessibility for poor people. I have arranged for a copy of the document entitled 'Local Transport Solutions for Rural Development' to be placed in the Library of the House of Commons.

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