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WTO Negotiations

8. Helen Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what development outcomes he aims to secure from the World Trade Organisation negotiations in Hong Kong. [34891]

Hilary Benn: The World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting being held next week in Hong Kong is an opportunity to make real progress on the Doha Development Round. We will be working hard to achieve the best possible result. We want an outcome which leads to global economic growth, including through better access to markets for developing countries, and in particular for the poorest nations in the world. We also want an outcome which reflects the Millennium Development Goals, and which allows the DDA to be completed during 2006.


9. Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. [34892]

Hilary Benn: Afghanistan has made remarkable progress over the last four years and with strong commitment from the Government of Afghanistan and the international community has moved away from a predominantly humanitarian situation. To date 3.5 million refugees have returned home, the number of functioning health clinics has increased by 60 per cent., and over 5 million children are now in school. Many Afghans however remain vulnerable. During the winter in particular many suffer the effects of nature, lacking basic elements of protection. The Government of Afghanistan have begun contingency planning and drawn up a work plan to help minimize the impact of this winter upon the most vulnerable through the provision of basic relief supplies. In line with Afghanistan's needs, DFID's support has evolved from
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a humanitarian focus to supporting the Government in creating the conditions for sustainable development and poverty reduction.

14. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent in the re-building of the infrastructure in Afghanistan in each year since 2002; and if he will make a statement. [34897]

Hilary Benn: Since 2002, DFID has committed £35 million in support of the development of infrastructure in Afghanistan: £17 million of support through the National Solidarity Programme for small scale rural infrastructure; and £18 million to the National Rural Access Programme for roads construction and maintenance. Of this, £3 million was spent in 2004–05, £27 million will be spent in 2005–06 and £5 million is planned to be spent in 2006–07. Support to larger scale infrastructure is not a major focus of DFID's programme: we believe other donors are better placed to do it than DFID.

Latin America

11. Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on his Department's funding for Latin America in 2005–06. [34894]

Mr. Thomas: DFID expects to provide £10.3 million to Latin America in 2005–06 through its bilateral programme and £36 million through centrally funded activities. In addition, DFID contributes to the expenditure of multilateral organisations in the region (£91 million in 2003, the last year for which data are available).

DFID's Regional Assistance Plan for Latin America 2004–07 sets the framework for its bilateral programme involvement in the region (copies are available in the Libraries of the House). Funding in 2005–06 comprises of regional programmes (£3.5 million) to tackle regional issues such as HIV/AIDS and to improve the impact of the Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank on poverty; and bilateral programmes in Nicaragua (£3.8 million), Bolivia (£1.5 million) and Brazil (£1.5 million). Programmes in Bolivia and Brazil are in their final year.

DFID centrally funded activities benefiting Latin America in 2005–06 include over £10 million for UK non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through the Civil Society Challenge Fund and the additional regional allocation for six Partnership Programme Arrangement NGOs; at least £1 million of research programmes; debt relief of £23 million; humanitarian relief of £250,000; and co-financing of the Global Conflict Reduction Pool (a total of £1.8 million from all Government Departments ).


12. Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to assist the Palestinian Authority to reopen the airport at Gaza. [34895]

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Hilary Benn: The Government fully supports the work of the Quartet Special Envoy, James Wolfensohn, to ensure that Israeli Disengagement is a success. Mr. Wolfensohn has identified six priority areas for joint Israeli and Palestinian work on movement and access, which include the construction of an airport for Gaza. We welcome the 15 November agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the Government of Israel and their commitment to continuing discussions about restoring the airport. To lend support, the UK has seconded two experts to the Special Envoy's team to help move forward progress on Gaza disengagement.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to improve food (a) productivity and (b) security in Africa on a sustainable basis. [33987]

Hilary Benn: DFID has always recognised the importance of agriculture to reducing poverty. A new DFID agricultural policy paper will be launched on shortly which will set out how we will do more and improve the benefits to poor people.

Examples of current support include:

DFID has responded quickly to address hunger in the immediate term in Africa. This year we have provided £64 million through the UN, other agencies and some of the Governments in the region. Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Zambia are the worst-affected countries, although Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland also face shortages.

DFID is also helping to build longer term food security. For example, we are currently supporting a programme for 5 million people affected by chronic hunger in Ethiopia with £25 million per year. This programme provides regular payments of cash and food to 5 million chronically hungry people. This meets their immediate food needs but is also designed to help them climb out of poverty in the longer term, as it allows them to become more productive by purchasing assets such as seeds, goats or oxen, knowing they will still have a safety net in times of crisis. DFID proposes to scale up this national safety net approach for those affected by hunger in Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, and Kenya over the next year.

Asian Tsunami

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent progress has been made in the relief effort for the areas affected by the Asian tsunami of December 2004; and if he will make a statement. [34543]

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Mr. Thomas: The relief phase of the response has ended, and the international community is now supporting the affected Governments as they work towards the longer-term recovery and reconstruction of affected areas.

The UK allocated £75 million for the immediate humanitarian relief effort following the tsunami. A total of £68.7 million of this has been committed, while the remainder has been set aside for disaster risk reduction projects.

DFID allocated £65 million to meet reconstruction needs in the tsunami affected countries. From this allocation £31 million has been committed to the Multi Donor Trust Fund in Indonesia, of which £6 million has so far been paid out. A further £5 million has been committed for technical assistance in Indonesia to help ensure timely, accountable and equitable provision of reconstruction assistance and rebuilding of livelihoods. A total of £2 million has been committed to Sri Lanka to help speed up implementation of reconstruction programmes and to ensure equitable distribution of assistance, and £1.5 million of this has been allocated to the North East Provincial Council to increase their capacity to deliver services to affected communities.

A total of £3 million has been committed to India to provide technical assistance aimed at ensuring effective, transparent and equitable programming of tsunami reconstruction efforts. The use of the balance will depend on evidence of where this funding can be most appropriately used.

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