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Latin America

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on Latin America's progress towards reaching the millennium development goals by 2015; and if he will make a statement. [7364]

Mr. Thomas: Latin America's progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has been very uneven. Each country has made different degrees of progress towards different targets, and at widely varying speeds.

The region appears to be on track to meet its 2015 targets for education, access to water and sanitation, and reducing hunger. In particular, rapid progress has been made towards reducing the prevalence of underweight children, universalising net enrolment in primary schools, reducing child and infant mortality, and increasing the proportion of the population with access to improved water sources. Insufficient progress has been made, however, on getting all children to actually complete primary school, halting the spread of HIV, and reversing the loss of environmental resources. Mixed progress has been made on income poverty and hunger reduction, the coverage of improved sanitation, and the various indicators of gender equity. While the proportion of the region's population living in slums has fallen slightly, absolute numbers have actually increased. Because of data limitations, it is very difficult to assess progress on improving maternal health.

Even within countries, there tend to be marked differentials between ethnic groups and different geographic regions. Because Latin America has such high levels of inequality, it is important not to let national average figures obscure these pockets of poverty and social exclusion.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress his Department has made in working with the (a) Inter-American Development Bank and (b) World Bank to improve the access of poor and excluded people in Latin America to (i) local and national markets and (ii)international trade. [7369]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has recently concluded the design of a new £7.6 million programme (the Latin America Markets and International Trade programme) to help the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank to better facilitate increased access of poor
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people in Latin America to markets and the benefits of international trade. The design of the programme has involved extensive dialogue with these Banks as well with non-governmental organisations and other partners. It will be implemented over the next four years and will be evaluated in 2006–07 and at its conclusion in 2008–09.

The programme will build on other existing and planned co-operation between DFID and the Banks. In Bolivia, for example, the IDB's participation in DFID's 'Making Markets Work for the Poor' project has provided lessons for a large IDB project to support access to markets of poor, small-scale farmers. In
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Nicaragua, DFID will be supporting greater access of poor people to markets in the eco-tourism sector in a way that is intended to influence both IDB municipal development projects as well as a World Bank competitiveness project in the country.

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his Department's (a) bilateral and (b) ultilateral expenditure has been in each year since 1997 in (i) each country in Latin America and (ii) Latin America; and if he will ake a statement. [7370]

Hilary Benn: DFID's bilateral expenditure for prior years was as follows:
£ million

Costa Rica0.300.
El Salvador0.210.300.321.820.430.340.11
Central America Regional10.421.410.862.414.394.41
Latin America Regional0.350.850.170.220.531.451.37

Figures are not yet available for 2004–05. It is not possible to disaggregate funding through our regional programmes on a country basis. However, most countries in Central and Latin America will have benefited from our regional programmes.

Multilateral institutions record funding by calendar year. The UK share of funding of grants and concessional lending by these institutions was as follows:
£ million

Central American countries
Costa Rica0.280.890.380.320.290.25
El Salvador1.902.271.412.312.022.04
Latin American Countries
Bolivia9.888.472.416.5811. 540.68

(35)Debt repayments on concessional lending exceeded new grants and concessional loans to these countries.

Figures are not yet available for calendar years 2003 and 2004.

Malarial Infection

Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has invested in research into the role fungal spores may play in combating malarial infection. [7732]

Hilary Benn: Neither DFID nor the EC have invested in research specifically into the role that fungal spores can play in combating malarial infection. Research in this area was funded in the UK by the Wellcome Trust. The possible use of fungal spores is a recent addition to the range of interventions which play a role in malaria control, of which DFID funds research into new drug development, improved health systems and bed nets totalling £2 million per year.

Medical Staff (Developing World)

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the UK's recruitment of medical staff from the developing world. [7896]

Hilary Benn: The UK is the only developed country to have implemented and reviewed policies that explicitly prevent the targeting of developing countries for recruitment of health workers. The Code of Practice for International Recruitment of Healthcare Professionals
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(available at, prevents the NHS from actively recruiting healthcare professionals from low and middle-income countries unless there is a government-to-government agreement in place. The code of practice was revised and strengthened last year to widen its scope to include temporary workers and to enable all healthcare organisations, including in the independent sector, to sign up to its principles.

Middle East

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the potential danger from asbestos and other materials in the rubble of settlement buildings cleared by Israel in connection with the Gaza disengagement plan; and what sources have offered funding to tackle the problem. [7480]

Hilary Benn: DFID takes very seriously the potential danger from asbestos and other materials caused by the demolition of settlement buildings by Israel during its disengagement from Gaza. We understand that a World Bank expert is in place to advise Israeli and Palestinian authorities on the issue of rubble disposal. We have no current plans to carry out our own assessment. DFID is supporting the Rapid Action Programme being drawn up by James Wolfensohn, the Quartet's Special Envoy for Disengagement.

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