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3 Nov 2005 : Column 1290W—continued



Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made on the holding of a donor conference to assist reconstruction in Angola. [22017]

Hilary Benn: The international community has consistently maintained that, in order for a donor conference to be successful, Angola would first need a poverty reduction strategy (PRS) and a formal programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). While a PRS has been in place since January 2003, an IMF programme has not yet been agreed.

As three and a half years have passed since the end of the civil war, a traditional pledging conference for Angola's reconstruction needs may no longer be appropriate. Recent statements from the Angolan Government suggest a partners' conference as a possible way forward. We are considering this.

Asian Earthquake

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many helicopters the Government (a) has sent and (b) intends to send to areas affected by the earthquake in Asia. [22064]

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Mr. Thomas: At the request of DFID, the RAF has provided three CH-47 Chinook Helicopters which have been operational since 28 October. This is in addition to the four helicopters DFID is funding through the United Nations and Red Cross Movement.

At the end of last week, the UN estimated there were a total of 81 helicopters in operation and another 44 due to arrive in the area, but the number of helicopters flying on any one day can vary with weather conditions and maintenance.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the Char livelihood project in Bangladesh. [22014]

Mr. Thomas: DFID Bangladesh regularly assesses the Char livelihood project, which included four field visits over the past six months. The head of DFID Bangladesh and the British high commissioner visited just over a week ago.

After a slow start up phase, in the four months leading up to the monsoon season starting in June:

DFID Bangladesh will continue to closely assess the project to ensure that momentum is maintained and, the rate of implementation increases. DFID Bangladesh plans an independent review of progress early in 2006.

Cayman Islands

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the UK's (a) technical and (b) financial assistance to the Cayman Islands in each year since 1999. [22553]

Mr. Thomas: The UK's direct support for the Cayman Islands is set out in the table. In addition, the Cayman Islands also benefit from regional initiatives, its share of which cannot be specifically attributed.


(7) DFID expenditure. FCO figures not available for this year.
(8) Emergency assistance following Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Precise figure is not available as expenditure is attributed to wider Hurricane Ivan assistance which also included Grenada, Jamaica and Cuba.

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Chronic Poverty

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what work his Department is doing on social transfers and chronic poverty. [23019]

Hilary Benn: DFID recognises that social transfers could have an important role to play in reducing chronic poverty in very poor countries. DFID has recently published a paper entitled: Social transfers and chronic poverty: emerging evidence and the challenge ahead." The paper describes how social transfers have helped tackle poverty in many better off developing countries and suggests that they may have a similar impact in very poor countries. It recognises that there are significant challenges to implementing social transfer programmes in countries with weak institutional capacity but suggests that these are not insurmountable.

DFID is working with a number of governments in very poor countries to develop a better understanding of the potential role that social transfers could play in tackling chronic poverty. A number of specific social transfer programmes are already under design or are being implemented. DFID has committed £70 million over three years to support a safety net programme for five million chronically poor people in Ethiopia that provides both work programmes and social transfers. We are also supporting social transfer pilot programmes in Zambia and Kenya and our Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction programme in Bangladesh provides social transfers to very poor women.

DFID is committed to continuing to collect evidence on the effectiveness of social transfers. For example, the department will provide further funding of up to £7.5 million over five years to the Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), a research consortium with members in the UK, Africa and South Asia. A key element of CPRC's work will be to examine further how social protection, including social transfers, can help tackle chronic poverty.

Chronic poverty, of course, needs to be tackled by a range of policy responses, not just social transfers. For example, DFID is working to strengthen health and education services for the chronically poor, as well as increasing their opportunities to participate in economic growth and be more included within national political processes.

Commission for Africa

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what follow-up there has been to the Commission for Africa; and which recommendations have been implemented. [22597]

Hilary Benn: Many of the Commission for Africa's recommendations have been picked up in the commitments made by the G8 at Gleneagles and by the UN at the Millennium Review Summit. The UK Government have regular meetings at ministerial level to monitor implementation. At the international level, the Africa Partnership Forum will be tracking delivery on the basis of a Joint Action Plan now being prepared, which will bring together the commitments of Africa and its development partners for the first time.
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Important progress has already been made on many of the Commission's recommendations. For example:

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