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18 Oct 2006 : Column 1201W—continued


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of progress with mine clearing operations in Angola. [92885]

Hilary Benn: After four decades of conflict, Angola is one of the most mined countries in the world. The Department for International Development has been a long-standing supporter of mine clearing operations in Angola. We have provided a total of £1.483 million for mine clearance activities in the country since 2003, and are planning an additional commitment of £825,000 in 2006-07. Around 10 international agencies are presently involved in de-mining in Angola, together with government partners.

A Landmine Impact Survey is currently under way. It is due to be completed at the end of 2006. Two international agencies involved in this survey, HALO Trust and Mines Advisory Group, are receiving funding from DFID. The Landmine Impact Survey will provide a more comprehensive picture of the presence and impact of landmines in Angola than has been available in the past. This will enable better planning and prioritisation of mine action, as well as monitoring on progress of clearance. Emerging findings are already being used to help the central and provincial government in these areas.

DFID will assess future support for landmines in Angola against the outcomes of the survey, once it has been completed.

Climate Change

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of climate change on the potential for achieving sustainable development and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa. [92956]

Hilary Benn: Current climatic variability is already hampering the reduction of poverty and sustained economic growth in Africa. DFID has made a commitment in the new White Paper on International Development to help developing countries adapt to climate change. Much of the available information is at regional level. But more effort is needed to help Africa assess what climate change means for national development. We are funding a number of activities in this regard.

This year, DFID commissioned a mapping of where greatest climate vulnerability and poverty overlap across Africa (available on-line at:

A major new research fund on Climate Change Adaptation in Africa will help build climate change knowledge and research skill that can be incorporated into planning in Africa.

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DFID is in the process of implementing several country programme assessments of climate risk. The first of these in Africa will be in Kenya.

In line with commitments made at the G8 summit in Gleneagles, DFID is also working to improve the availability and use of climate risk information in Africa through the Climate for Development in Africa programme. This will strengthen the Global Climate Observation System. In addition, DFID is contributing £20 million over three years through the United Nations to help countries develop national adaptation strategies.

DFID also commissioned a review of climate change impacts in Africa as a contribution to an independent review on the economics of climate change led by Sir Nick Stern at the Treasury.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent representations he has made to other national governments to provide additional aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo. [93974]

Hilary Benn: The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has long been one of world’s neglected crises. In February I wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, in support of the UN’s ambitious 2006 Humanitarian Action Plan for the DRC, which aims to address better the enormous unmet needs across the country. In this letter I called on other national governments to increase their humanitarian aid to the DRC in the same way that the UK has done. The UK has committed £60 million to the Action Plan over two years.

I visited DRC in September to meet the two presidential candidates in the run up to the second round of elections. I used this visit to call again on other donor countries to increase their support to DRC, in support of a similar plea from Jan Egeland, the UN’s Humanitarian Co-ordinator.

DFID and FCO staff make regular representations in DRC, in national capitals and in the institutions of the EU for more, better and longer term development assistance to the DRC. As well as more development assistance to DRC, we need it to be better and more effective. The UK is leading efforts in DRC to improve donor working and impact. For example, in the transport sector we have used our planned support to reach agreement among all major donors on integrating critical maintenance elements into all future roads programmes. We are also trying to find ways of rapidly expanding access to basic social services in the future. These are practical ways to show how we can scale up impact in DRC and give donor partners the confidence to increase their support. We are also working with bilateral and multilateral partners to develop more co-ordinated and coherent strategies for post elections assistance to DRC.

The UK’s programme of development assistance has increased rapidly in recent years, from £5.6 million in 2001-02 to an available package of £62 million this financial year. We plan to continue increasing this, so long as the peace process remains on track.

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Departmental Expenditure

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on taxis in the last 12 months. [93112]

Mr. Thomas: Taxi spend for the 12 month period October 2005 to September 2006 was £526,068.

Foreign Aid Budget

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the total foreign aid budget was in each of the last 30 years in real terms. [93794]

Hilary Benn: The total UK gross expenditure on aid in each of the last 30 years in real terms is set out in the following table:

UK gross public expenditure on aid 1975 to 2004-05( 1)
Real terms (£000)





























































(1) 2005-06 figure is not available until Statistics on International Development is published on 26 October 2006.
(2) Prior to 1987 these statistics were produced on a calendar year.
British Aid Statistics and Statistics on International Development


Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid programmes are in place to assist the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. [93701]

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Mr. Thomas: The UK does not have a bilateral programme in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Aid provided by the European Commission was about £9.6 million in 2005. The UK’s attributed share is 17 per cent. The UK share therefore amounts to about £1.6 million.

Land Mines

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps have been taken by his Department to assist victims of land mines in Africa. [93523]

Hilary Benn: DFID contributes substantial funding across the world to clear landmines. In Africa DFID is spending more than £5 million from 2004-05 to 2006-07 in the six most heavily affected countries: Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Somaliland, Sudan and Uganda.

DFID is also helping victims of landmines through its wider programmes in health and welfare. For example in the financial year 2005-06 we provided £17.5 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross, some of which has been used to support mines survivors. We also provide indirect funding for victims through our support to mine action projects undertaken by non-government organisations.


Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of Lesotho's level of debt. [93159]

Hilary Benn: In June 2005, the International Monetary Fund conducted a Debt Sustainability Analysis and concluded that Lesotho’s debt levels were sustainable. This means that Lesotho does not classify as a Heavily indebted poor country (HIPC). However, the UK is committed to ensuring debt relief for all IDA-only low income countries that can use the resources effectively for poverty reduction.

DFID is currently providing assistance to the Government of Lesotho to strengthen its financial management systems. Once the country’s public expenditure management systems are sufficiently robust to meet the entry criteria, the UK will begin paying 10 per cent. of Lesotho’s debt service payments to the World Bank and the African Development Bank under our Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative MDRI.

Middle East

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza; and if he will make a statement. [93204]

Hilary Benn: The situation in the Palestinian Territories remains very difficult. Continued Israeli military operations in Gaza, internal violence between Palestinian factions and the strike by Palestinian
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Authority employees have all contributed to a worsening situation. DFID is keeping close track of the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA).

With technical assistance provided by DFID, UN OCHA is producing a Monthly Humanitarian Monitor report. The most recent report indicates that overall poverty rates have risen marginally, a number of essential drugs are out of stock and that deaths and injuries from violence are continuing. In the West Bank poverty now stands at 66 per cent., up from 62 per cent. in June 2005. In Gaza the poverty rate is 79 per cent., up from 77 per cent. a year ago. Among families that depend on salaries and payments from the Palestinian Authority (PA) poverty has risen more steeply (46 per cent. now, up from 33 per cent. in June 2005). 14 per cent. and 22 per cent. of essential drugs are out of stock in Gaza and the West Bank respectively. 77 Palestinians were killed and 266 injured in the West Bank and Gaza during August due to Israeli military operations. 12 Palestinians were killed and 55 injured in intra-Palestinian violence. The Monthly Humanitarian Monitor is available at

OCHA has reported that 75 per cent. of medical staff and 90 per cent. of teachers are on strike. In the West Bank only critical medical cases are being received at governmental hospitals and health clinics. Most public schools have not re-opened for the new school year.

DFID has made up to £12 million available to meet Palestinian basic needs through the Temporary International Mechanism. £9 million has been allocated to specific programmes to provide (i) essential medicines and health supplies; (ii) operations, maintenance and repair costs for water, sanitation and electricity services; and (iii) income for the poorest Palestinian Government workers, including teachers, who have suffered a severe loss in income over recent months. DFID has also provided £15 million to support Palestinian refugees in the region, though the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what funds have been disbursed through the Temporary International Mechanism to deliver aid to the Palestinians. [93205]

Hilary Benn: The European Commission has confirmed that €37.4 million have so far been disbursed through the Temporary International Mechanism (TIM). Since the TIM was established 97,000 Palestinians have received direct allowances. These allowances have supported health care workers, teachers and the most vulnerable citizens in Palestinian society. Over 2.4 million litres of fuel have been provided for emergency generators at water pumping stations, waste water facilities, hospitals and health centres in Gaza. This has enabled essential services to continue after damage to Gaza’s only power station in an Israeli airstrike.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what work has been done to meet the UK's aim of strengthening the role of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership in supporting the Middle East peace process; [94251]

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