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27 Oct 2005 : Column 510W—continued

Direct Budgetary Support

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how his Department will (a) monitor and (b) disaggregate information on how bilateral aid given under the method of direct budgetary support is spent. [21981]

Hilary Benn: DFID provides Poverty Reduction Budget Support (PRBS) direct to partner governments' budgets to help implement their own poverty reduction strategies. A full fiduciary risk assessment is completed before PRBS is approved and this is regularly updated.

Benchmarks are agreed at the outset against which to assess progress in poverty reduction and where necessary, improvements to public financial management, together with monitoring, reporting and audit arrangements. Progress is reviewed before planned PRBS instalments are confirmed and funds released.

DFID does not disaggregate how individual PRBS commitments are spent. Statistics on International Development (SID) gives details of PRBS expenditure by country and by region and income groupings, at tables 11 and 12. SID also shows PRBS expenditure against policy priorities and millennium development goals, at tables 20 and 22. The latest version of SID document was published on 20 October and is available on-line and can be found located via the DFID website address at:, copies of which will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses as soon as they are made available.
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Food Emergencies

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what procedures his Department has in place to monitor early warning signals of food emergencies from (a) the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and (b) other bodies. [22008]

Mr. Thomas: DFID staff in the UK Representation to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome and elsewhere monitor the Global Information and Early Warning System of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) of the US Agency for International Development. The UK Representation in Rome receives all food availability updates from the FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) and participates in regular discussions of impending and actual food emergencies with those agencies and other donors. DFID staff also regularly attend briefings on the joint FAO-WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions. To help improve the quality of information provided by WFP, DFID has funded the strengthening of WFP's Vulnerability Assessment Monitoring capacity.

Furthermore, DFID has staff in many countries that have traditionally experienced food emergencies, particularly in Africa. DFID staff in country offices and on country desks in London keep close track of the food availability situation in countries at risk. They also exchange information with other donors, host Governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations. DFID is also helping to build local capacity to detect potential food emergencies, notably through funding local vulnerability assessment committees in Southern Africa.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of food emergencies in (a) Burkina Faso, (b) Burundi, (c) Chad, (d) the Central African Republic, (e) the Democratic Republic of Congo, (f) the Republic of Congo, (g) Cote d'Ivoire, (h) Eritrea, (i) Ethiopia, (j) Guinea, (k) Kenya, (l) Lesotho, (m) Liberia, (n) Malawi, (o) Mali, (p) Mauritania, (q) Niger, (r) Sierra Leone, (s) Somalia, (t) Sudan, (u) Swaziland, (v) Tanzania, (w) Uganda and (x) Zimbabwe, with particular reference to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's Africa report of September. [22009]

Hilary Benn: DFID monitors the evolving food-security situation across Africa through our network of country offices, our humanitarian advisers, and a wide range of specialist partners, including NGOs, the UN and Red Cross agencies. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)'s report is an important source of information, based primarily on food production. DFID takes this into account in making an overall assessment of the humanitarian situation, while also looking at vulnerability, access to food, coping mechanisms, nutritional status and other indicators.

In Southern Africa (including Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), DFID has invested heavily in the vulnerability assessment committees (VACs), the main
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tool used by all partners, including national governments, to assess food emergencies. Based on the latest VAC assessments and other partners' surveys, DFID generally concurs with the broad findings in the FAO report. However, rather than

we judge that there are 10.7 million people in the region facing food shortages. Many of these people will require emergency food aid, but some will manage until the next harvest using their own coping strategies and other non-food assistance. In Southern Africa, in response to our assessments, DFID has allocated a total of £56 million for humanitarian assistance and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

In West Africa, DFID has just undertaken its third humanitarian assessment mission since June, to the Sahel (including Burkina, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger). Based on these findings, and those of other partners, we concur with the FAO's September analysis. More recently we have judged agricultural production from the ongoing Sahel harvest to be high, bringing relief and recovery to many areas, but with pockets of continuing need due to localised shortages or the continuing consequences of the recent crisis. In the Mano river countries (including Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone), insecurity and population movements have certainly undermined food security, as also suggested by FAO. In both sub-regions, DFID has delivered more than £9 million of humanitarian assistance this year to help address these concerns.

In East Africa., DFID has undertaken humanitarian assessments in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Humanitarian advisers based in Sudan constantly monitor the humanitarian situation there, including emerging food crises. The UK is spending £70 million on its humanitarian assistance in Sudan this year. In Ethiopia, DFID is contributing £43 million to a national safety nets programme providing food and cash to poor families. Eritrea continues to be affected by serious food shortages. It is however, becoming increasingly difficult for relief agencies to operate in the country, affecting the quality of data and the options for humanitarian assistance. The situation in Somalia is also of great concern as increasing insecurity in the grain producing areas of the south reduces the availability of food. Uganda and Tanzania have had good harvests. Civilians displaced by conflict in the north of Uganda, and refugees from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Tanzania, are unable to support themselves and require continuing assistance, for which DFID is providing support.

In Central Africa, DFID assessments have been undertaken in the DRC and Burundi. We agree with the FAO's assessment that while production has generally been at or above average, serious food shortages remain among some groups, notably displaced people in the DRC. The Republic of Congo normally produces little food, being reliant on imports. The Central African Republic had a good harvest last year, but the basic indicators remain very poor. In addition insecurity in the north has led to difficulties for the population there, and has resulted in people seeking refuge in southern Chad. Chad also experienced an average year in terms of food production, but refugees there from Darfur, and Central African Republic are not able to produce or
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purchase their own food. DFID has an assessment team in Chad looking at whether additional support is required over and above the £5 million already provided by DFID this year.


Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he has held with the Pakistan Government about long-term assistance following the Kashmir earthquake. [22705]

Hilary Benn: I met the Prime Minister and President of Pakistan on 20 October in Islamabad during my visit, to see the damage in Muzaffarabad and Balakot and to discuss what additional assistance was required.

An Earthquake Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) has been set up with the Prime Minister as chair. The ERRA has asked the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to lead a high level needs assessment team over the next three weeks to prepare an outline plan and funding assessment for long term reconstruction needs. A report will be available by mid-November and a conference on reconstruction will be held in Islamabad on 18 November.

A Joint Government of Pakistan, major donors and the United Nations Steering Committee meets regularly to assess information, advise on lessons learned from other disasters and discuss key policy issues on, for example, death and injury compensation, new town development, and interim children's education. DFID's country head is a member of the Steering Committee.

DFID has an expanding long-term development programme in Pakistan with £74 million committed this financial year. Areas for support include primary health, education, water and sanitation, good governance and democracy, and income growth.

DFID's programme operates at the federal level, and in the Provinces of Punjab and North West Frontier (NWFP). We have already met with the Government of the NWFP to agree changing priorities in the light of the earthquake.

We will consider our response in Azad Jammu and Kasmir after we have been able to review the conclusions of the ERRA reconstruction needs assessment.

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