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Mr. Thomas: A consultation document on DFIDs plans for Latin America from 2008 to 2011 can be found on DFIDs website (www.dfid.gov.uk).
DFIDs proposed approach includes retaining a presence in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Brazil, a continued partnership with the World Bank and Inter-America Development Bank, and a continued focus on market opportunities for the poor and governance.
11. Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of (a) the UK's and (b) the G8 countries' contributions to reducing poverty in the last two years following the Gleneagles summit. 
Hilary Benn: There has been some good progress on reducing poverty in the last two years as set out in DFIDs annual report to Parliament. Globally there has been a significant rise in global aidby 25 per cent. to just over $100 billion since 2004. However there is still much more to be done and it is a priority for the UK Government to work with others to ensure the Gleneagles commitments are implemented.
Hilary Benn: We are in close contact with the relief agencies who make regular assessments of the situation on the ground. The UN estimates that more than one million Somalis need direct humanitarian assistance and the entire population of southern and central Somalia, over four million people, are at risk. There are high levels of starvation and epidemic disease, and the continuing insecurity has a direct effect, with people being killed and wounded, robbed, raped and otherwise abused. Another indirect effect of the fighting is that it disrupts the efforts of Somalis to pursue their livelihoods and access basic services.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what projects his Department has undertaken to improve housing conditions for the urban poor in African cities. 
DFID works primarily through the UN Human Settlements Programmebetter known as UN Habitatthe UN agency charged in 1978 with promoting socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities through the provision of adequate shelter for all. UN Habitat is the mandated lead agency
of the UN for cities, urban poverty, and slum dwellers. DFID provides core funding to UN Habitat of £1 million per year.
DFID also supports the joint donor initiative Cities Alliance, which works with partners with municipal governments on city development strategies and slum upgrading. DFID is providing £3 million over four years to the Cities Alliance to strengthen urban planning in developing countries.
UN Habitat and Cities Alliance jointly manage the Slum Upgrading Facility (SUF), a technical assistance and bridging-finance facility to develop projects that attract domestic capital and investment for urban regeneration, primarily in cities in the developing world. The SUFs £5.9 million programme has targeted six African countries: Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Cities Alliance further manages, with the NGO Homeless International, the Community Lead Infrastructure Financing Facility (CLIFF). CLIFF is an investment fund mechanism for assisting organisations working with the urban poor to access private finance to undertake infrastructure initiatives in partnership with municipalities. Working in partnership with poor communities, CLIFF aims to access resources from public and private sectors for slum-upgrading projects. CLIFF has recently begun expanding its work to Kenya.
Through its bilateral programmes, DFID also supports local programmes, for example in Kenya with the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions (CHoRE). This organisation campaigns for the protection of housing rights and the prevention of forced evictions. DFID supported the development of National Evictions Guidelines for Kenya.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what payments were made (a) by and (b) through his Department to overseas (i) trades unions and (ii) collections of trade unionists from the public purse in each year since May 1997; and what the (A) value and (B) recipient was of each. 
DFID supports progress towards the millennium development goals by working through a wide range of partners, including national governments and local civil society organisations (including trade unions). DFID works with trade unions and collections of trade unionists when this is judged to be an effective and efficient means of helping reduce poverty. Civil society (including trade unions) can play a critical role in helping poor people hold their governments to account and have a voice in decisions which affect their lives.
For example, our country offices in South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania are providing direct support to local trade unions. DFID also funds a number of poverty reduction projects implemented by domestic trade unionssuch as TUC Aid helping to promote workers' rights and secure better living standards in Sierra Leone (starting 2007-08, £400,000 over three years) and UNISON
strengthening the public sector union response to tackling HIV/AIDS in southern Africa (starting 2007-08, £350,000 over three years).
Mr. Thomas: DFID provides financial support to community organisations in the developing world both directly and through UK civil society organisations. As the National Audit Office reported last year, DFID support to civil society organisations as a whole has grown fast since 1997, keeping track with the growing aid budget.
It is a priority for us to help build the capacity of civil society in developing countries, including community groups, to hold local and national governments to account. This is the focus of the new Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF), which will provide £100 million support over the next five years. In order to maximise local involvement and capacity building, successful applicants must grant at least 85 per cent. of their GTF funds to local partners in developing countries.
Another new approach to assisting community groups among others, while also raising levels of awareness about global issues in the UK, is the proposed Linking scheme set out in the White Paper. This proposes to support links between UK groups and counterparts in the developing world. A public consultation has just closed and DFID in now considering how to take this forward.
Mr. Thomas: DFID makes sure that potential environmental aspects of development projects are taken into account during their design and implementation. Environmental screening is mandatory during the preparation of all DFID projects over £1 million. It is used to identify and address environmental risks and opportunities associated with DFID funded projects. The screening process identifies actions required to address potential environmental impacts.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 22 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1091-92W, on Lebanon, what UK initiatives to promote democratic oversight of reconstruction spending and planning in Lebanon are in place; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: Together with the British embassy in Beirut, DFID continues to monitor, and engage with efforts to promote democratic oversight of, reconstruction spending and planning. The embassy funded a recent UK parliamentary/National Audit Office mission to Beirut to help the Lebanese Parliament explore what steps might be needed to strengthen its budgetary oversight role. Such initiatives highlight the importance of resuming the normal operation of the Lebanese Parliament, and have the potential to contribute to addressing some of the issues underlying the conflict.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 22 March 2007, Official Report, columns 1091-2W, on Lebanon, what assessment he has made of the (a) impact and (b) potential impact of the recent conflict and instability in Lebanon on UK bilateral programmes in (i) the Occupied Palestinian Territory and (ii) Iraq; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: The recent conflict and instability in Lebanon has not affected our bilateral programmes either in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) or in Iraq. DFID continues to monitor the situation and will react accordingly.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the numbers of individuals displaced within Lebanon by the recent violence; and whether any changes are planned to the UK's humanitarian assistance for Lebanon. 
Hilary Benn: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has reported that due to the recent violence in Lebanon, over 20,000 people have been displaced from the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian refugee camp. Most have fled to the nearby Beddawi refugee camp and some to other refugee camps in South Lebanon. Indications are that there are between 3,000 and 5,000 refugees remaining inside the camp. UNRWA estimates that around 27,000 refugees were living in the camp before the crisis, although some reports put the number as high as 40,000.
The UK is providing £100 million of unearmarked funding over five years to UNRWA, of which around 20 per cent. historically goes to Lebanon. This support provides UNRWA with the funding predictability that enables more effective planning, and the flexibility for UNRWA to allocate funds where they are most needed. We will continue to watch how the situation in Lebanon develops and remain ready to provide additional support as appropriate based on humanitarian need and the country's and agencies' ability to respond. The EC is providing €370,000 of humanitarian assistance of which the UK share is £45,000.
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will provide a breakdown of how the £60 million funding for
education in Nepal announced on 5 April is proposed to be spent; and what the time scale is for the release of the funding. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID is planning to spend £60 million on education in Nepal between now and 2015. We plan to gradually increase our support to education from its current level of £5 million a year as the political environment in Nepal improves following the recent peace agreement between the government and the Maoists. DFID currently puts all of its support into the Governments Education for All programme, which is supported by other donors and which has resulted in increases in enrolment to primary education, despite the ongoing conflict, including for girls and disadvantaged groups.
Education for All will finish in 2009 and will be superseded by a new government programme that covers both primary and secondary education, which DFID will support. We will work with other donors and the government of Nepal to continue to improve access at all levels, especially for socially excluded groups. We will also help the Government to improve the quality of education, in particular by increasing teacher numbers in overcrowded schools and increasing classroom building.
Education has a vital role to play in stabilising the peace in Nepal after the recent conflict, much of which was motivated by inequality, including inequality in gaining access to government services.
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In addition, DFID is supporting many programmes that benefit rural areas as well as other parts of Pakistan. For example, DFID is providing over £68 million for the National Health Facility, which is funding a number of large-scale programmes in rural and urban areas.
Indirect DFID support for rural areas in Pakistan is provided through multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and the European Commission. Many of these agencies have large-scale programmes directly targeted at rural areas.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact the temporary international mechanism to deliver aid to the Palestinians has had on the number of Palestinian families living beneath the poverty line; and if he will make a statement. 
Hilary Benn: At the start of 2006 the World Bank predicted that the Palestinian economy would contract by 27 per cent. during the year. The latest estimates are that the economy in fact contracted by 5-10 per cent. in 2006. Increased EU funding through the temporary international mechanism (TIM) alongside other donor funding, mostly from Arab states, made a substantial contribution to slowing this economic decline. The World Bank and the European Commission are currently assessing the impact of the TIM. The results of this review are expected to be available soon.
However, despite increased donor funding, poverty rates have almost doubled, up from 22 per cent. to 56 per cent. in the West Bank and from 43 per cent. to 87 per cent. in Gaza. The main reasons for this are the effects on the Palestinian economy of Israels suspension of the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues and Israeli security restrictions on Palestinian movement and access to markets.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what level of annual income for Palestinian Authority employees is used to determine eligibility for funding under the temporary international mechanism; whether any other criteria affect eligibility; and if he will make a statement. 
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