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6 Jul 2005 : Column 472W—continued

Middle East

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the joint Israeli-Palestinian development projects that have received UK Government funding in the past five years. [9833]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

Joint Israel-Palestinian development projects that have received UK Government funding since 2000 are:

We have also supported projects with each individual party to promote development and Peace Process objectives.

Sierra Leone

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the progress of debt relief to Sierra Leone. [8276]

Hilary Benn: Sierra Leone qualifies for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. In March 2002 Sierra Leone reached HIPC Decision Point, following production of an interim Poverty Reduction Strategy, which made it eligible for debt relief equivalent to US$600 million in net present value terms, or 80 per cent. of the country's outstanding (foreign) external debt as at the end of 2000.
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Under the HIPC initiative, 10 out of 11 Paris club creditors (official bilateral creditors) agreed to provide debt relief to Sierra Leone. This was on Naples terms (equivalent to 65 per cent. debt cancellation/debt stock reduction), although France has agreed to extend relief on Cologne terms (equivalent to 90 per cent. debt cancellation/debt stock reduction). Comparable relief has been provided by non-official commercial creditors.

Additionally, the UK has gone beyond the requirements of the HIPC initiative and has written off 100 per cent. of all bilateral debts owed to it by HIPC countries. In the case of Sierra Leone, this means that debt repayments were suspended at HIPC Decision Point; the stock of debt will be written off at HIPC Completion Point.

The recent agreement by G8 Finance Ministers proposes a further significant reduction in debt payments for HIPC countries. It provides for all HIPC countries to have their International Monetary Fund, World Bank and African Development Fund debts written off after they reach HIPC Completion Point. Decisions on Completion Point are made following a period of implementation of a full Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Sierra Leone's PRS was agreed earlier this year. It is likely that Completion Point will be reached in 2006. The agreement between G8 Finance Ministers will then apply to Sierra Leone.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on aid to Sierra Leone. [8277]

Hilary Benn: The UK is the largest bilateral donor to Sierra Leone. Our programme of support is set out in a 10-year Agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), signed in November 2002, under which we have committed up to £120 million over its first three years. The main areas of our programme are security sector reform; governance reform including public administration, decentralisation and public financial management; diamond sector reform; anti corruption measures; private sector development and budgetary support.
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A particular feature of the Agreement is the inclusion of performance benchmarks, agreed annually between the UK Government and the GoSL, which commit the GoSL to reforms in the areas of focus referred to, in exchange for our support. Quarterly reviews of progress against the performance benchmarks are held with the Sierra Leone authorities.

Earlier this year, the GoSL and the donor community agreed a first full Poverty Reduction Strategy. This will guide future allocation of domestic resources and is the strategy against which donors, including the UK, will re-assess their programmes. The Poverty Reduction Strategy will be discussed between the GoSL and the international community at a Consultative Group meeting to be held later this year.

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will rank EU member states by size of aid to (a) sub-Saharan Africa and (b) the 15 poorest sub-Saharan countries, expressed in terms of per head of population of donor country. [9771]

Mr. Thomas: The table shows that in 2003 (the latest date for which data are available) France, Germany and the UK were the three largest EU donors to sub-Saharan Africa in terms of total official development assistance (ODA). However Luxembourg, Belgium and Denmark gave the greatest amounts of ODA per head of their populations. The UK was the eighth largest donor in the EU on this measure, with £14.95 spent on ODA to sub-Saharan Africa for each person in the UK.

Considering only the 15 poorest countries in sub-Saharan Africa (based on GNI per capita) 1 , the largest EU donors in terms of ODA per capita of the donor country were Belgium, Sweden and Luxembourg. The UK ranked ninth.


Total net ODA to sub-Saharan
Total net ODA to poorest 15 sub-Saharan
African countries
Per head of population
Per head of population
EU member state£ millionRank£ sterlingRank£ million£ sterlingRank
United Kingdom885.3314.958454.707.689
EU members, total6611.517.323,823.9110.02

6 Jul 2005 : Column 475W


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his assessment is of the consequences of famine for the Zimbabwean economy. [8542]

Hilary Benn: The large food production shortfall this year will result in even faster contraction of the economy in 2005, as well as increased pressure on very limited foreign exchange to pay for food imports.

High food prices and, in some places, lack of food supplies is likely to lead to widespread hunger but is unlikely to result in a famine. Recent assessments by organisations working at community level suggest that malnutrition is not presently high by emergency standards, but could become worse as many more people run out of food in coming months. By far the highest cause of death in Zimbabwe is HIV/AIDS, which kills more than 3,200 people per week.

Food shortages and HIV/AIDS will sadly affect the medium and longer-term capacity for economic growth in Zimbabwe in a range of ways. These include higher levels of school drop-outs, lack of funds to purchase inputs for the next planting season, nutritional impact on children affecting their future capacity to be productive, and women being forced into trading sex for food with the risk of further HIV transmission. DFID will continue to work with vulnerable groups to mitigate these negative consequences.


Armed Forces Personnel

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the manpower levels of the (a) Royal Navy and (b) Royal Air Force are; and if he will make a statement. [9297]

Mr. Touhig: On 1 May 2005, the trained strength of the Regular Naval Service was 35,280. This represents a deficit of 2,770. In a briefing on the restructuring of the armed forces on 13 May this year, it was announced that RN trained requirement will reduce by some 1,500 to 36,000 by 2008.

On 1 May 2005, the trained strength of the Regular RAF was 48,760. This represented a surplus of 360 against the requirement. As part of the restructuring of the armed forces announced in this House on 21 July last year, it is planned to reduce RAF trained manpower to around 41,000 by April 2008.

UK regular forces includes Nursing Services and excludes Full Time Reserve Service personnel, mobilised reservists and Naval Activated reservists.

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