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HIV (Africa)

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to tackle mother to child HIV infection in Africa; and if he will make a statement. [23671]

Hilary Benn: The UK is committed to spending £1.5 billion on HIV and AIDS globally over the next three years. DFID's approach to tackling mother to child HIV infection (MTCT) in pregnancy, labour and delivery in Africa is primarily through strengthening comprehensive national HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care services. This includes improving national health services and specific action to reduce MTCT such as voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) targeted at women, replacement feeding where feasible and anti retroviral therapy (ART) including the use of Nevirapine.

The UK also provides funding to African countries via the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). This includes significant resources for HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care including interventions to prevent MTCT.
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DFID also provides core funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and recognises its role as a global technical agency which provides guidelines on treatment for HIV positive mothers.

House Building (Planar Technology)

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will assess the merits of using planar technology in house building for developing countries. [22686]

Hilary Benn: DFID's approach to shelter and housing is not to specify particular technologies, but to support demand driven programmes which focus on enabling communities to develop their own solutions to local challenges, as in the case of our support to the Community Led Infrastructure Financing Facility (CLIFF). DFID funds a major programme of social and scientific research that enables effective solutions involving the full range of appropriate technologies. Details of our research can be found on DFID's website

Hurricane Damage

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance has been provided to (a) the Mexican Government and (b) the Caribbean islands to counter hurricane damage. [22670]

Mr. Thomas: Both Mexico and the Caribbean countries affected by recent tropical storms and hurricanes have shown sufficient national capacity to respond without international assistance. Therefore there have been no requests for international assistance.

Throughout the hurricane season, the DFID Caribbean office has been strengthened to enhance monitoring of tropical storm development, preparedness and the potential for assessment and response action. DFID also has relief supplies (1,800 collapsible five litres jerry cans and 1,500 tarpaulins) on one of the UK frigates based in the Caribbean.


Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the rebuilding of Iraq. [22970]

Hilary Benn: Progress has been made on reconstruction in Iraq in spite of all the challenges. After decades of damage by a repressive regime it will take time to build Iraqi institutions, improve infrastructure and services for the long term, and for the private sector to flourish. Continued violence and sabotage have also inevitably hampered the reconstruction effort. However, there has been continued economic growth; power generation is higher than before the conflict; more Iraqis now have access to drinking water and sewerage systems; thousands of health care and education facilities have been rehabilitated; transport and telecommunication systems are improving and civil society groups and the media are flourishing and finding ways of engaging in the political process.

The Iraqi Government is leading on the rebuilding and development of Iraq. New Iraqi led donor co-ordination mechanisms are up and running in Baghdad.
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Sector working groups in health, education, energy, and rule of law are meeting regularly, led by Iraqi Ministries with support from the UN, the World Bank, and a range of donors. There is now an increasing number of international donors and representatives of the multilateral agencies based in Iraq.

DFID has so far disbursed more than £290 million on humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Iraq since 2003. DFID's programme in 2005–06 focuses on:

DFID also provided £70 million to the international reconstruction fund facility for Iraq (IRFFI). The UN and the World Bank manage the IRFFI and continue to carry out a range of programmes in sectors such as health, education, and water and sanitation.

The following table outlines some of the major reconstruction achievements.
Area of reconstructionAchievements
EconomyRapid recovery with 50 per cent. growth in 2004. Inflation is under control and the new Iraqi Dinar is holding its value against the dollar. DFID support contributed to the Iraqi Government's successful negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2004 and 2005, paving the way for agreement of an 80 per cent. Paris Club debt reduction deal.
PowerIn spite of regular sabotage and breakdowns of dilapidated infrastructure, power generation has remained above pre-war levels. However, demand has also increased dramatically as a result of economic growth and greater use of electrical goods. DFID has repaired transmission lines securing electricity supplies for 1.5 million residents of Basra; improved distribution to 13 areas of Basra and by summer 2006 will have added or secured 720MW.
Water and sanitation1.25 million more Iraqis have access to drinking water than before the conflict; 9.6 million more have access to a sewerage system. DFID has repaired 4,880 leaks across the four southern governorates; provided technical advice for a major sewage installation in al Amarah, providing up to half the city's population with access to a piped system and replacing open sewage channels; and is currently establishing water towers to improve supplies to 500,000 people in the poorest district of Basra city.
HealthThe Iraqi Government reports that health care spending is up more than 30 times on the pre-conflict level. Extensive disease control programmes, led by the Iraqi Government and UN agencies, have led to a decline in malaria, polio, measles, and rubella. Over 150 health care facilities have been rehabilitated and several thousand health care professionals have been trained.
EducationOver 3,500 schools have been rehabilitated. 69 million textbooks have been delivered to 19,000 schools.More than 30,000 school teachers and administrators trained.
Civil Society2,500 Iraqi NGOs are now registered with the Iraqi Government. Freedom of speech has been established in law and independent media is flourishing. DFID has funded new, independent radio and TV stations in the south, and is supporting grass-roots Iraqi organisations such as women's groups, trade unions, and student organisations.

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IT Projects

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many IT projects have been developed for his Department since 2001; and whether he has agreed to make public Gateway reviews for these projects (a) in full and (b) in part. [23520]

Mr. Thomas: The exact number of IT projects of all sizes developed in DFID since 2001 cannot be determined without incurring a disproportionate cost. Three large current projects have been subject to the Gateway process, two assessed as medium risk and one as low risk. Gateway review reports have been produced for two of these projects and are confidential to the Senior Responsible Owners. Under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000, each request for the release of information contained in a Gateway review is considered on a case-by-case basis. To date, DFID has received no FOI requests relating to Gateway reviews.

Literacy and Numeracy

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to promote uptake of the national tests in adult literacy and numeracy amongst employees of his Department. [23412]

Mr. Thomas: DFID is committed to the development and maintenance of literacy and numeracy skills. We have a comprehensive skills development plan which takes account of the potential need for basic skills training and qualifications.

An employer toolkit on Adult Basic Skills is available on our intranet and we hold an annual in-house event during Adult Learning Week, which focuses on the assessment and development of literacy and numeracy. On our intranet, we advertise emails for providers of learning basic skills.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many employees in his Department requested training to improve their (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills in each year since 2002. [23417]

Mr. Thomas: In the Department for International Development (DFID), requests for training are usually handled between an employee and their line manager.

There are no centralised systems or processes that require line managers to record or report on the types of learning support requested by individual staff members.

At present therefore, the data requested could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
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It is also worth noting that the perceived stigma involved in declaring skills deficit in literacy and numeracy may prevent employees from requesting this support from their line manager.

In recognition of this, DFID has appointed union learning representatives, and has developed internal web pages to enable staff to assess their skills and access support without going through their line manager.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on in-house training on (a) literacy and (b) numeracy (i) in total and (ii) per head, in each year since 2002. [23433]

Mr. Thomas: Within the Department for International Development, the responsibility for setting and allocating training budgets is devolved to the departmental level. There are currently no centralised learning management e-systems to record or report on the types of learning activities associated with their training spend. The implementation of an e-system is planned for 2006.

Therefore, at present, the data requested could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

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