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3 Nov 2005 : Column 1300W—continued


Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much the United Nations appeal for famine victims in Malawi has raised; and what steps the UK Government have taken to raise the funds requested by the United Nations. [22899]

Hilary Benn: As off 26 October 2005, the UN had received pledges of $29 million towards its Flash Appeal for Malawi. Prior to the UN Appeal, Malawi had received pledges of $60 million. Total pledges to the current food distribution programme as of 27 October were $89 million. The UK has contributed £15.2 million ($27.4 million) to the current crisis. Of this, £10.2 million (18.4 million), which was pledged before the UN Appeal, has paid for 70,000 tonnes of food and the financing of a logistics unit that is distributing food on behalf of the Government. A further pledge of £5 million, the largest response to the UN Appeal, has been used by the Government of Malawi to buy options on 60,000 tonnes of maize in case the food situation worsens; the purchase of seeds for next year's harvest plus support for UNICEF's nutritional rehabilitation units which treat severely malnourished children.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the famine in Malawi. [22900]

Hilary Benn: I refer the hon. Member for Hammersmith and Fulham to the response I gave to the hon. Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds) on 31 October 2005, Official Report, column 768W.

Marrakech Conference

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps are being taken to fulfil the political declaration made at the Conference
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of the Parties 7 in Marrakech to provide the balance of the original pledge for adaptation measures in less-developed countries. [23611]

Mr. Thomas: The EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Canada and New Zealand are signatories to the Bonn Political Declaration, which commits them to contribute funding collectively of US $410 million annually from 2005 to 2008. Expenditure must be additional to expenditure levels in 2001. Any financial support that enables developing countries to respond to climate change, including reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change, capacity building and research counts towards the total.

The UK will meet its share of the Bonn Political Declaration through a variety of means, including our contribution to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) set up under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), our work with partner governments, and research.

DFID has committed a core contribution of £103 million to the GEF for the period 2002 to 2006 and an additional £15 million as a voluntary commitment, making the UK the fourth largest donor to the facility. Negotiations for the fourth replenishment are under way and will be complete by the end of 2005. Around a third of the GEF budget is spent on climate change.

DFID has committed £10 million over three years to the SCCF, which will be used to help developing countries to mainstream climate change responses into development planning, policies and implementation. The first tranche was disbursed in 2005.

DFID Bangladesh is providing £6 million over five years to support the UN Development Programme and the Government of Bangladesh to establish a Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme. This programme focuses on risk reduction, including longer term climate risks.

DFID's Central Research Department is initiating a £25 million collaborative research and capacity development programme on climate adaptation starting in 2006 for five years.

DFID is working to put climate risk assessment procedures in place for UK funded development in line with the G8 and Commission for Africa recommendations that investments in climate sensitive sectors should be screened to determine how their performance might be affected by climate risks.

DFID is also working to take forward other commitments made on climate change in the G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action, in particular, those related to helping developing countries obtain full benefit from the global climate observation system, arid a package of measures to make energy generation and consumption less carbon-intensive.

Microfinance Initiatives

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) funding and (b) other support his Department gave to microfinance initiatives in the developing world in the last financial year. [23057]

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Mr. Thomas: DFID directly supports microfinance in 25 countries and has provided approximately £28 million during the last financial year. DFID also funds international agencies that actively support microfinance and financial sector development, such as the World Bank, the European Union, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank.

Microfinance, or financial services for those on low or very low incomes, is a powerful tool to fight poverty and help reach the Millennium Development Goals. The UN Year for Microcredit 2005, has provided additional input to this agenda. However, in many developing countries, less than 10 per cent. of the population currently has effective access to formal financial services.

In addition to existing programmes, microfinance initiatives supported by DFID last year included:

Millennium Development Goals

Mark Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress the Government are making towards meeting millennium development goal five on reducing global maternity mortality by two-thirds by 2015; and if he will make a statement. [22555]

Hilary Benn: Some 529,000 woman die in pregnancy and childbirth every year, equivalent to one woman every minute. Without considerably more action, target 5 of the millennium development goals (MDGs), to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015, will not be met. Maternal mortality is one of the greatest indicators of the stark inequities between rich and poor. A woman in Sierra Leone, for example, faces a risk of dying each time she gives birth which is 200 times that of a woman in the UK.

Achieving this millennium goal will be difficult, but as outlined in our 2004 strategy for reducing maternal deaths, DFID is committed to a year-on-year increase in our support to improve maternal health and reduce maternal mortality. The UK has been recognised for having developed this strategy specific to maternal health (and remains the only bilateral donor to do so). Feedback indicates that the high level of political commitment to reducing maternal deaths by DFID is effectively raising the profile of this important development issue.
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DFID is supporting work on maternal health through our bilateral country programmes, and assistance to the UN and the World Health Organisation (WHO). In India, where a quarter of all maternal deaths occur, political commitment is growing and DFID supports the national Reproductive and Child Health programme. In Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia, Cambodia, China and Bangladesh, DFID continues to be at the forefront of work to reduce maternal deaths. In Africa, we are working against severe constraints (in part reflecting the impact of HIV and conflict on maternal deaths), to address the lack of human resources and basic health services. As described in the strategy, we ensure focus to the broader reproductive health and rights of women essential to preventing these unnecessary and tragic deaths.

DFID is also supporting the new global Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, as a catalyst in helping countries harness, for the benefit of women and children, the significant resources committed by the G8 and promised by the EU for poverty reduction.

Natural Disasters

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if his Department will assess the merits of providing deployable rapid assembly shelters for use following natural disasters; and if he will make a statement. [21656]

Mr. Thomas: DFID has considered the use of deployable rapid assembly shelters for use following natural disasters.

In any disaster situation, we consider a number of different factors when assessing what type of shelter is most suitable. These include the needs of the people, the average size of families, issues such as heating arrangements and cooking facilities based on the way the people normally use such items and the relative cost of the different options available. We then make a judgment on what shelter is the most appropriate for any given disaster or situation.

We also consider the availability of transport to move items around the country, to ensure that materials sent to a disaster region are distributed immediately. In addition we must also consider how easy it is to build and maintain the shelters that we do send.

In the case of the devastation caused by the South Asia earthquake, we believe that winterised family tents are the most cost effective and efficient use of aid resources.

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