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31 Jan 2006 : Column 333W—continued

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions he has had in the EU on amending its agricultural policies to assist developing countries. [45425]

Mr. Thomas: The Government have regular discussions with EU and other countries regarding their agricultural policies. Securing a good outcome to the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade negotiations, including on agriculture, is a Government priority.

Recently, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development hosted an informal meeting of EU Development Ministers during the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, where we discussed how Europe could contribute to a successful outcome to the talks, including on agriculture. The Hong Kong ministerial did not achieve as much as we had hoped but there was agreement to end all agricultural export subsidies by 2013, which will help to remove one source of unfair competition for developing country agricultural producers.

Departmental Websites

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost of maintaining his main departmental website was for the last year for which figures are available; and how many visitors there were to the site in each of the last 12 months. [46307]

Mr. Thomas: The cost of maintaining the main DFID website ( for the last year was £121,983.

Numbers of unique visitors for the last 12 months were as follows:
December 200418,845
January 200520,001
February 200520,154
March 200519,631
April 200618,893
May 200523,455
June 200518,218
July 200519,894
August 200520,913
September 200524,166
October 200526,555
November 200528,208

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Ms Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance he is providing to (a) Eritrea and (b) Ethiopia in 2005–06 to achieve the millennium development goal on drinking water supply and waste water. [46212]

Hilary Benn: In Eritrea, DFID is funding through the International Rescue Committee, an Emergency Environmental Health programme which provides access to potable water and sanitation facilities. We also contributed £1.3 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 2005 Appeal for Eritrea which included water and sanitation work.

Water and sanitation is an integral part of our humanitarian policy for Eritrea and we expect to make further contributions in this sector next year.

DFID is working with key partners such as the African Development Bank and the World Bank to design a water and sanitation investment programme for Ethiopia. We are providing an adviser to assist the Ministry of Water in implementing the increasing number of water and sanitation programmes in the country. Ethiopia is the largest beneficiary among East African countries of the EU water facility's first phase of funding approvals.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions he had with (a) members of the Prime Minister's African Commission (b) the President of Ethiopia before and after his decision to suspend UK bilateral aid to Ethiopia. [46559]

Hilary Benn: I have had a number of discussions with Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia about developments in Ethiopia, most recently in Addis Ababa on 18 January, when I informed him that in the current political circumstances we will not provide general budget support which the Ethiopian Government can use for any purpose. I have had no discussions with other former members of the Commission for Africa regarding this subject.

Bilateral aid to Ethiopia has not been suspended. The UK remains committed to supporting poor people in Ethiopia. We are working with other donors and the Government of Ethiopia to design a new, more accountable mechanism for providing assistance, so that basic services can continue to be provided throughout the country.


Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action his Department is taking, in conjunction with the Global Fund, to tackle the spread of AIDS in Africa. [46450]

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Mr. Thomas: HIV and AIDS in Africa is a priority for DFID, as outlined in Taking Action: the UK government's strategy for tackling HIV and AIDS in the Developing World". The strategy commits the UK Government to spending £1.5 billion over the next three years on HIV-related work.

The UK has committed £359 million to the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (2002–08). In July 2005, the UK doubled funding to the Global Fund to £100 million for 2006 and the same for 2007. Of total Global Fund resources, 56 per cent. of funding is spent on HIV/AIDS and 60 per cent. will go to sub-Saharan Africa.

Across its 16 priority countries in Africa, DFID is working closely with governments and other development partners (including the Global Fund) to strengthen national comprehensive HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care services. We also address broader issues which affect HIV and AIDS such as human rights and health and education services. In countries such as Mozambique, DFID focuses on supporting national government decision-making processes in line with the 3 ones" principles (ie developing one national HIV/AIDS strategy, one co-ordinating body and one monitoring and evaluation system). In countries where working with the Government has been more difficult, such as Zimbabwe, we have been supporting UN agencies and civil society organisations to provide a range of HIV and AIDS services to vulnerable populations.

Horn of Africa

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 925W, on the Horn of Africa, how much of the bilateral aid was diverted to (a) the Ethiopian Government, (b) non-governmental agencies and (c) other organisations operating in that country. [46652]

Hilary Benn: DFID has not diverted aid to non-governmental agencies. Although we are not providing general budget support, which the Government is able to use for any purpose, we continue to support other Government programmes such as the Productive Safety Nets programme and programmes with NGOs working in HIV/AIDS and other development activities.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 16 January 2006, Official Report, column 925W, on the Horn of Africa, what assessment he has made of the impact of his decision to suspend bilateral aid to the Ethiopian Government upon his Department's efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to those worst affected by the crop failure in that country. [46653]

Hilary Benn: I have not suspended bilateral aid to Ethiopia. In the current political circumstances I have decided that we will not provide general budget support which is a form of aid the Ethiopian Government can use for any purpose.

The UK remains committed to supporting poor people in Ethiopia. Along with other donors we continue to support the Government of Ethiopia's Productive Safety Nets programme which provides assistance specifically to those communities and
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households most vulnerable to crop failure. In addition, we are continuing to work with the Government and the United Nations to provide emergency humanitarian assistance where appropriate.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State, Department for International Development, what additional support he is making available to the World Food Programme in Kenya; what assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in Kenya following his recent visit; and if he will make a statement. [47496]

Hilary Benn: The UK has committed a further £3 million UK contribution in response to the food crisis in Kenya. Of this new commitment, £1 million will be channelled through the World Food Programme (WFP) for food and the balance of £2 million will be used to help with access to water. The total UK contribution stands at £13.8 million since June 2004, out of which £6.3 million has been provided through the WFP.

An estimated total of £2.5 million people mostly in the north eastern and eastern parts of Kenya are affected by the drought. The results of a national assessment due in a week's time will determine the level of current and future needs but it is clear from my recent visit that the levels of malnutrition are unacceptably high and urgent action is needed by all parties; Government, donors, NGOs, and communities to help save the lives of those at risk.

Food aid is critical in saving lives in an emergency but, on its own, it will not prevent another crisis happening. Each drought increases the numbers of people facing hunger. People are unable to escape poverty even in good years because they have lost or sold the assets they need to rebuild their lives. If people are to escape from this trap they need concerted effort by Governments to invest in these areas. Our support to education and health go some way towards helping. The provision of safety nets such as timely, adequate and guaranteed payments of cash or food on a regular basis to the neediest also helps rebuild lives.

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