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31 Oct 2005 : Column 766W—continued


Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the food shortage in Malawi. [21542]

Hilary Benn: The Government of Malawi and donors were able to respond quickly to the food shortages in Malawi because Malawi had a good early warning system, and an effective system of assessing needs and allocating food aid.

To date, 1.8 million people have received food aid. This will rise to 2.8 million people by the end of December as needs increase. By the end of the hungry season, the plan is to feed 4.2 million people. The distribution of the food aid through the Government and the World Food Programme (WFP) is carefully targeted and monitored to ensure that it properly meets those in greatest need.

The UK Government have contributed £15.2 million to address Malawi's food shortages this year. These funds paid for 70,000 tons of food, the financing of a logistics unit that is distributing food on behalf of the Government, options for the Government of Malawi on a further 60,000 tons of maize, the purchase of seeds for next year's harvest and support for UNICEF's nutritional rehabilitation units, which treat severely malnourished children.

DFID continues to monitor the situation closely and, with the Government of Malawi, have called for an updated assessment of needs, which will be published later this week. We stand ready to support the Government of Malawi if more needs to be done.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much (a) money and (b) food aid the Government have given to aid organisations for operations in Malawi since it received news of the drought. [22898]

Hilary Benn: The UK Government have contributed £15.2 million to address Malawi's food shortages this year. Of this amount, £6.7 million has been used to purchase 45,000 tons of maize, which will be distributed with the help of Non Governmental Organisations on the ground in targeting poor people whose harvests have failed and who do not have money to buy food. £4.87 million of additional budget support has been used by the Government of Malawi to buy options on 60,000 tons of maize in case the food situation worsens plus the purchase of seeds for next year's harvest. A further £3 million will be used after the next harvest to replenish 22,400 tons of maize drawn from the Strategic Grain Reserve to provide food aid.

DFID is also providing £500,000 to build the Government's capacity, including financing a logistics unit to distribute food on behalf of government. A further £130,000 has been given to UNICEF to support their treatment programme for severely malnourished children. We are monitoring the situation closely and stand ready to do more if required.
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Obstetric Fistula

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funding the Department has allocated to tackling obstetric fistula in Africa in 2005–06. [22558]

Mr. Thomas: DFID provides most of its health-related assistance to Africa in support of building comprehensive health services, often through non-earmarked Poverty Reduction Budgetary Support (PRBS) or ear-marked health sector support. Whilst a proportion of this will be used to tackle obstetric fistula, it is not possible to provide an exact figure for spend in this area.

The cornerstone of preventing obstetric fistulae is prompt access to good quality health care when needed. DFID is committed to helping countries expand access to health care, including family planning, antenatal and obstetric services.

DFID also targets some funding through NGOs to tackle obstetric fistula. For example, DFID has provided a grant of £588,000 to the Engendered Health and Women's Dignity Project to combat obstetric fistula in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.

To complement our country level support, DFID also channels funds though the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). For the period of 2005–06, DFID has provided £20 million core funding and £10 million specifically for reproductive health (for preventable and treatable conditions such as obstetric fistula).

Poorly Performing Projects

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development for how many projects the Department has stopped funding for reasons of ineffectiveness in each of the last eight years. [21947]

Hilary Benn: The Performance Reporting Information System for Management (PRISM) monitoring process alerts programme managers to underperforming projects and requires them to agree any changes needed to implementation arrangements, resources or targets to achieve the intended development outcomes.

For the years in question, DFID does not keep a record of the number of projects which were terminated because they were ineffective or are no longer relevant.

Poverty Reduction

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what statistical measures of the effectiveness of aid in reducing poverty his Department uses when deciding which (a) countries and (b) projects receive funding. [21944]

Hilary Benn: DFID draws on the fullest possible range of statistical information available on poverty and on the prospects for achieving the Millennium Development Goals when deciding funding for countries and for projects. All new DFID commitments are subject to rigorous analysis and appraisal in line with agreed guidelines and international best practice.
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UN Millennium Review

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the outcome of the UN Millennium Review Summit. [23615]

Hilary Benn: I am pleased that, on development, the outcome of the UN Millennium Review Summit consolidated all that was achieved at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles.

In particular, the summit endorsed the need for faster progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), acknowledging the special needs of Africa. It also endorsed the G8 approach on HIV/AIDS and climate change, including, importantly, on stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations.

The commitments of the G8 and EU, to increase aid, provide deeper debt relief and explorie innovative financing mechanisms were all welcomed.

Important commitments were also made in other areas too. For DFID, our immediate priorities are to support the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission by the end of the year and to develop satisfactory arrangements for the Peacebuilding Fund; to be closely involved in the process by which the Secretary General develops his ideas for longer-term reform of the UN development architecture; and to continue to work with the UN on reform of the humanitarian assistance system.

The Millennium Review Summit ensured that the momentum generated at Gleneagles was maintained, and the commitments made there given global endorsement by the 191 UN member states. There is still much to be done, but the agreements reached this year represent a significant step towards reducing poverty in developing countries.



Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost to the Government of arson in (a) England and Wales and (b) Essex in the last year for which figures are available. [21036]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The most recent available information is for 2003 and is tabled as follows. For that year the total cost of arson to the economy in England and Wales was an estimated £2,849 million, of which 28 per cent. (£806 million) was incurred by the public sector. The biggest single element of public sector expenditure was in funding the Fire and Rescue Service to respond to arson fires, which cost an estimated £642 million in 2003.

Within the Essex Fire and Rescue Authority area, the total cost of arson fires in 2003 was estimated £56 million, of which £12 million was incurred by the public sector (including £6 million fire service response costs; and £4 million resulting from fire damage in public sector buildings).
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Costs of arson, 2003
£ million

and Wales
Total cost of deliberate fires to the economy2,84956
Total of deliberate fires to the public sector80612
Costs in anticipation:
Fire safety160.3
Consequential costs:
Criminal justice system costs872
Property fire damage to public sector
buildings (eg schools, hospitals,
government property)
Response costs:
Cost of fire service attendance6426

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