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Gillian Merron: The Department for International Development (DFID) is working to support the efforts of pan-African institutions to improve their internal governance and to promote governance on the continent. DFID is providing support to the Pan-African Parliament to strengthen its financial and human resource systems, and to the African Union Commission to establish efficient and transparent fund handling processes.
DFID is working with pan-African institutions to improve governance on the continent in a variety of ways, including providing over £1 million to the African Peer Review Mechanism Secretariat Trust Fund, which supports the running of this important continental governance programme of the African Union. DFID has engaged the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa, a South African-based NGO, to assist the African Union Commission and Pan-African Parliament to improve their election monitoring capacity. DFID is also assisting the African Development Bank, through a £1 million programme, to improve the quality of the governance support the bank offers its African member countries.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of the Regional Trade Facilitation Programme on fair-trade exports in southern Africa since 2005. 
Mr. Thomas: As a result of the work carried out by the Regional Trade Facilitation Programme (RTFP), smallholders market access on fair terms, for many commodities, has improved. More small scale producers are benefiting, and export volumes are rising, both to South African and international markets. For example, the exports of organic groundnuts to Europe increased from zero to 126 metric tonnes between 2005 and 2007; and South Africas tea imports from Tanzania increased by 600 tonnes between 2005 and 2006.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department plans to take in conjunction with the African Development Bank to improve the regional infrastructure in the region in partnership with the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa. 
Gillian Merron: In December 2007, the UK Governments Department for International Development contributed £417 million to the African Development Fund of the African Development Bank and became its largest donor. Infrastructure financing is predicted to reach more than $5 billion under the African Development Fund 2008-10 and the amount available to be committed to regional projects will increase from 15 per cent. to 17.5 per cent. of total funding.
In 2007, DFID also doubled its funding to the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa Secretariat hosted at the African Development Bank in 2007, including providing a secondee. DFID is also supporting other initiatives to help the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa be effective, helping leverage increased financing from others. DFID committed £6 million to the Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility hosted at the African Development Bank to help get regional infrastructure in Africa ready for financing. The Infrastructure Consortium for Africa is making good progress. Its annual report for 2007, soon to be published, will show that funding by its members increased by 54 per cent. to $11.9 billion in 2007, up from $7.7 billion in 2006.
DFID committed £7 million to the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund in 2007. DFID nominated the African Development Bank to take up its position on the Project Financiers Group of the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund. This will help with African ownership and improve co-ordination between EU member states and the African Development Bank.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Department for International Development (DFID) support to industrial sectors in Bangladesh is aimed at creating stronger private sector growth that directly benefits the poor, under the Millennium Development Goal banner of halving poverty by 2015. In partnership with the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC), the UK is co-funding the South Asian Enterprise Development Facility (SEDF), which in Bangladesh provides aid to the light engineering sector via small foundries and steel mills; the ready-made garments industry; and the poultry industry. These industries are highly labour intensive, offering huge potential for poverty eradication through employment generation for the poor.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what organisations his Department engaged to disperse relief supplies in Bangladesh after Cyclone Sidr in 2007. 
Mr. Malik: UK assistance for relief supplies after Cyclone Sidr was channelled through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to local non-governmental organisations (NGOs). DFID also provided some relief items in kind, from its stocks in Dubai. These items were disbursed by HelpAge, CARE Bangladesh, Oxfam, Save the Children, and BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities). Full details of UK support following Cyclone Sidr can be found on the DFID website: www.dfid.gov.uk.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Since the outset of the humanitarian crisis in Burma, the UK has engaged in intensive diplomatic exchanges with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries. In the weeks following the cyclone I have both spoken to and met with ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan several times, and the Foreign Secretary liaised closely with his counterparts in the ASEAN region, speaking with his Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian and Singaporean counterparts. Lord Malloch-Brown and the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Malik) pressed the need for access during their visit to the region on 17 May 2008. The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs spoke with her Vietnamese counterpart and has raised the issue with the Governments of Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines directly. In addition, all our embassies across South East Asia have been stressing the need for a concerted international humanitarian response to the crisis in their contacts with host Governments.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to ensure that aid for those affected by the Burmese cyclone has reached the most severely affected areas; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The main objective of the multi-agency humanitarian effort in response to Cyclone Nargis is to reach all affected populations as quickly as possible. The aid operation is scaling-up all the time. The UK is delivering its aid through United Nations, non-governmental organisation (NGO) and Red Cross partners, who have expanding coverage in the affected areas. More than £10 million of UK funds have been allocated to NGOs. They are working closely with local authorities to identify the worst affected populations and to reach them with clean fresh drinking water, sanitation facilities, basic health care and emergency shelter and agricultural assistance in the Delta.
The UK has given £5 million to the United Nations for their logistics operation to ensure that the UN has adequate helicopters, boats, ships and trucks to transport aid into and around Burma, to the most hard-hit areas of the country. Additionally we have directly provided 14 flat-bottomed boats which are operating to good effect to deliver supplies to remote parts of the Delta.
The UK is also working closely with the UN and ASEAN countries to press the Burmese Government to open better access to the Delta. Whilst access is still not good enough, increasing numbers of international staff and assistance are beginning to reach those in the worst affected areas. Progress however remains fragile and could be reversed.
The huge growth in China's trade and investment in recent years are providing new opportunities for Africa. China is now a major world economic power and a growing and important partner for many African
countries. Over the last three years my Department, in partnership especially with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), has been building a strong relationship with China on a range of development issues, including Africa. We believe it is important for China and the UK to work together to support the achievement of the millennium development goals, particularly in Africa.
The Department for International Development's (DFID) plans include: (i) encouraging China to work with other international development partners and join or endorse international initiatives that improve the effectiveness of international support to Africa; (ii) exchanging knowledge and experience on development assistance so that both sides can improve the quality of their support; (iii) identifying specific areas where we can work together such as in rural roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and (iv) exploring how the UK and China can ensure that the outcomes from high level global meetings, such as the UN MDG Call to Action meeting in September, accelerate progress towards the achievement of the MDGs.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) chairs, (b) desks and (c) other office furnishings have been purchased by his Department and its agencies in each of the last five years; and at what cost in each case. 
Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) is unable to provide this information as we do not keep separate records of numbers of chairs, desks and other office furnishings purchased, and to provide this data would incur disproportionate cost.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what independent inquiries have been commissioned by his Department in the last five years; what the (a) purpose and (b) cost was of each; and what steps were taken following each such inquiry. 
Gillian Merron: DFID does not separately identify routine post items sent overseas via the Royal Mail. However, the majority of our post to our overseas offices is sent using the Foreign and Commonwealth Office bag service, and the sums paid for this have been as follows:
The aforementioned amounts represent the financial year in which FCO charged DFID for the service, not necessarily the year in which the items were sent. It also includes heavy items rather than normal mail, but these cannot be separately identified.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 2 June 2008, Official Report, columns 657-60W, on departmental public participation, what steps (a) have been taken and (b) are planned as a result of each piece of work listed. 
|Research work||Steps taken||Steps planned|
This research provides useful insight into consumers current knowledge and understanding of shopping ethically and how this may have an impact on peoples livelihoods within developing countries. The analysis will continue to inform future communications activity.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what joint working his Department has undertaken with COMESA and USAID to strengthen border controls of developing countries which are vulnerable to petty corruption. 
Mr. Thomas: DFID is working through its Regional Trade Facilitation Programme (RTFP) to strengthen border controls by setting up three one stop border posts (OSPBs) between: Zambia and Zimbabwe; Mozambique and South Africa; and Lesotho and South Africa. The RTFP is partnering with the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to set up these OSBPs.
The OSBPs will replace border processing facilities (for incoming and outgoing traffic) on either side of two countries with a single border control management system and better scanning facilities. A major benefit is that the multiple bureaucratic requirements that currently provide opportunities for corruption are also reduced.
USAID, through its Trade Hub in Gaborone (Botswana), is also working to strengthen border controls. Their current focus is on improving the Trans Kalahari (Nambia, Botswana and South Africa) and the Maputo (Mozambique and South Africa) development corridors. DFID does not have a formal collaboration with USAID, but we do regularly exchange information on our trade facilitation activities.
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