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11 Jan 2005 : Column 397W—continued


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions his Department has had with the Indian Government concerning sex discrimination in India. [206088]

Mr. Gareth Thomas [holding answer 21 December 2004]: The Government of India (GoI) recognises that gender discrimination limits the prospects for development progress in India. It has a well-articulated policy and clearly mandated institutional structures, including the current tenth plan, for addressing gender discrimination. India has also played a lead role in ratifying gender-related UN conventions and international covenants.

However, a falling ratio of girls to boys, in rich and poor states, and among better off and poorer households, reflects continuing discrimination against women and girls. Violence against women and girls persists. The GoI recognises this in its reporting under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). The GoI has included several Bills related to improving the status of women in its forthcoming parliamentary session.

Over the last two years, the Department for International Development (DFID) has engaged closely with the GoI on the design of the large national Sarva Shikshya Abhyan (Education-for-All) and reproductive and child health programmes, developing their focus on the most vulnerable and hard to reach people in India, especially those who suffer multiple discrimination and social exclusion, particularly girls and women among marginalised groups. Approaches to improving outcomes for women and girls are explicitly included in the agreed designs. The GoI measures success in these programmes against progress towards gender equality.

DFID also engages with Governments in its focus states on issues of discrimination and ensuring that women participate in design and monitoring of programmes. This state level work includes focused programmes that empower and address the practical needs and priorities of women and other marginalised groups, such as through micro-credit, development of gender policies, awareness raising and livelihood improvements, e.g. through the Andhra Pradesh Rural Livelihoods and the Western Orissa Rural Livelihoods programmes. In 2003, DFID supported analysis of the Orissa budget from a gender perspective; key sectors, including the Orissa state health strategy and water and sanitation reforms, now seek to take account of the particular needs of women and girls.
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DFID worked with the United Nations Development Programme in India to include gender analysis in their support for state Human Development Reports. Discussions of access to justice and support for police reforms have both paid particular attention to the needs of women. In all programmes with the GoI that DFID supports, we seek to have monitoring and evaluation data disaggregated by gender in order to inform policy decisions. DFID also supports civil society to work with government to reduce gender discrimination.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action he has taken since his letter of 24 August to the hon. Member for Linlithgow to help restoration of the marshes of southern Iraq. [206895]

Hilary Benn: DFID maintains close contact with the United Nations Environment Programme on a range of environmental issues in Iraq. United Nations agencies are providing support for environmental management in the Iraqi marshlands and for Iraqi refugees returning to marshland areas. Other bilateral donors are also offering assistance for marshland restoration. DFID's own programme in southern Iraq focuses on employment generation, infrastructure rehabilitation and support for local government.

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much aid has been provided in support of heritage protection in Iraq; and what form that aid has taken. [207077]

Hilary Benn: DFID spent £80,000 to fund a Culture and Tourism adviser to work with the Coalition Provisional Authority in southern Iraq from January to May 2004. The adviser took forward projects to protect archaeological sites and re-establish traditional festivals in the southern governorates of Iraq. He also produced a sector report on tourism and culture which has now been adopted by the Iraqi Interim Ministers for Tourism and for Culture.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is working with the Iraqi National Museum and the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities on projects to protect Iraqi cultural heritage amounting to over $2 million. UNESCO is conducting training courses for Iraqi officials on archaeological protection and Iraqi cultural heritage preservation.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the plans are for the replacement of food rationing in Iraq by cash subsidy; what the reasons are for the proposed change; what measures are proposed to protect the vulnerable from the potential adverse effects of such a change; what assessment has been made of the possibility of changes in the crime rate resulting from the proposed change; and if he will make a statement. [207199]

Hilary Benn: The Government of Iraq has said that it is committed over the medium term, to enhancing the effectiveness of social safety nets in Iraq by moving from a food ration system, which handed out virtually free food to the entire population of Iraq, to a cash distribution system targeted at the poor and unemployed. The aim will be to help domestic
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agriculture, encourage private trade and remove price distortions, at the same time as ensuring that families in need are properly safeguarded. The details have yet to be determined, and are expected to be followed up by the Iraqi Transitional Government after the forthcoming elections. We support the reform in principle. DFID staff and advisers will continue to maintain contact with the Iraqi authorities, and with interested international organisations including the IMF, the World Bank and the World Food Programme, to ensure that the interests of poor and vulnerable families in Iraq are protected. A well-managed reform process should not have any adverse impact on levels of crime in Iraq.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Tooting (Tom Cox) of 13 December 2004, Official Report, columns 819–20W, on Iraq, where the interim Iraqi Government and United States forces stockpiled the supplies of water, food and medicine prior to the military operation. [207277]

Hilary Benn: The Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and United States Marines report that they had stockpiled essential supplies in the city of Fallujah prior to military action. The Marines also kept supplies at a nearby base which were brought into the city as necessary. The IIG ministries also report that extra supplies were available in Baghdad, for transfer to Fallujah in trucks by the Iraqi Ministry of Health; they also positioned essential supplies in the area surrounding Fallujah.

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what assessment he has made of the joint proposal of the Iraqi Interim Authority and the International Monetary Fund to replace the food ration to Iraqi families with a conditional cash payment; [207522]

(2) what discussions he has had with (a) the Iraqi Interim Government and (b) the International Monetary Fund on their joint proposal to replace the food ration to Iraqi families with a conditional cash payment. [207521]

Hilary Benn: I will write to the hon. Member for North-West Leicestershire shortly.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the nature of European Development Fund support for Namibia. [207126]

Hilary Benn: The current European Development Fund programme in Namibia is worth a total of £91 million over the six year period 2002–07. A country strategy, focussing on rural development and human resource development, was agreed between the European Commission and the Government of Namibia in June 2002.

A review of the programme, carried out last year, concluded that the size and focal areas of the programme remained appropriate. The review was approved by the European Development Fund Committee in October 2004.
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A new €53 million Rural Poverty Reduction Programme was also approved by the Committee in October 2004.

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