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6 Oct 2008 : Column 119W—continued

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 18 June 2008, Official Report, columns 1041-42W, on Pakistan: overseas aid, which of the 10 largest programmes supported by his Department in Pakistan in 2007 have continued in 2008; how much his Department is contributing to each in 2008; and when (a) the Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation programme and (b) other short-term programmes are expected to be completed. [223854]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: In 2008-09 DFID is planning to continue providing support to all but one (the Faisalabad Area Upgrade Programme) of the 10 programmes referred to in our answer of 18 June 2008, Official Report, columns 1041-42W.

The current 2008-09 forecast for our 10 largest programmes is as follows (note this is subject to change, and it is difficult for us to provide a full breakdown by calendar year):


General Budget Support


Pakistan Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation


National Health Facility


Strengthening Education in Pakistan


Maternal and Newborn Health


Financial Inclusion Programme


Polio Programme


HIV/AIDS Programme


Humanitarian Assistance to Flood Victims and Internally Displaced People


Devolved Social Services Programme Financial Support


The Earthquake Rehabilitation programme is currently scheduled to end in April 2010 and is subject to approval. Other projects supporting pro-poor growth, social protection and the elections are also scheduled for completion, though we will follow up with further diagnostic work.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 18 June 2008, Official Report, column 1041W, on Pakistan: overseas aid, to what extent his Department may determine the ways in which the State Bank allocates the £50 million provided for Pakistan's Financial Inclusion Programme; what the primary aims of the programme are; and what outcomes from the programme his Department expects. [223856]

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Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Pakistan Financial Inclusion Programme (FIP), designed by the State Bank of Pakistan and the Department for International Development (DFID), has a joint Steering Committee which makes all key strategic decisions.

The purpose of the FIP is to ensure that more poor people benefit from the provision of financial services in Pakistan. It aims to increase the number of microfinance users from 1.4 million to 3.0 million by 2010 and to 5.0 million by 2012. It will improve the regulatory framework for private financial service provision, strengthen public private partnerships, and ensure the effective use of technology in ways that will help benefit excluded groups. It will also help mobilise up to £50 million from the private financial sector to help improve access to finance, including in rural areas.

Remittances Task Force

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) financial and (b) other support his Department is providing to the Remittances Task Force in 2008-09; and what assessment he has made of the economic effect of remittances from the UK on developing countries. [220541]

Mr. Malik: The UK Remittances Task Force was set up in 2006, with support from the Department for International Development (DFID), to pursue the Key Findings and Recommendations of the UK Remittances Working Group. Originally set at 12 months, our support to the Task Force has been extended already as a response to the need for further work to fully achieve its objectives. DFID’s financial support to the Task Force is £23,600 from March to December 2008. DFID also provides advice to the Task Force and regularly dialogues with its Steering Committee. We will continue to review this support on an ongoing, needs assessed basis.

Estimates suggest that remittances from the UK are upwards of £2.7 billion, with the largest flows going to Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Jamaica and Ghana. DFID recognises the positive impact that these money transfers can make on people’s lives in developing countries, and has an active agenda to improve the developmental impact of remittances, seeking to help make remittances cheaper, safer and more accessible. When responding to a DFID funded survey in the UK, almost a third of remittance senders said that their money would be used to buy food, a fifth said it would help with medical bills and one in six reported that the funds would help pay for schooling. 80 per cent. of those surveyed said the money would make a real difference to the lives of their relatives back home.

Sierra Leone: Females

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2008, Off icial Report, column 1183W on Sierra Leone: human rights, what further steps the government of Sierra Leone plans to take to encourage more women to vote and to stand as candidates for election; and what steps his Department plans to take to support this process. [223692]

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Gillian Merron: In preparation for the local elections in July 2008 the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) carried out a mapping exercise of female candidates to guide the development of focused support programmes. These aimed to motivate and enhance their skills in areas that included; developing their own manifestos and agendas; advocacy/lobbying; overcoming intimidation from males; and public speaking.

The GoSL also worked closely with non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), 50-50 Women’s Group and the National Accountability Group (NAG) to develop and carry out specific training focused on the empowerment of female candidates. Some of these NGOs are being funded by DFID under an umbrella programme Promoting Voice and Transparency around elections (PIVOT).

The results of the council elections show a 100 per cent. increase in the number of successful female councillors, from 9 per cent. to 18.9 per cent.

Sierra Leone: Human Rights

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2008, Official Report, column 1183W on Sierra Leone: human rights, when he expects the government of Sierra Leone to undertake formal assessment of progress of the study as a whole. [223691]

Gillian Merron: The Department for International Development understands that a review of the study prepared by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be undertaken by the UN co-ordinated gender focus group. This forum was established to monitor the implementation of the Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. A date is yet to have been agreed.

Sierra Leone: Water

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development to what agencies the £32 million was allocated for providing water and sanitation services in Sierra Leone. [224143]

Gillian Merron: The principal partner for this nationwide programme is the Government of Sierra Leone—primarily the Ministries of Energy and Power, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development at the national level and the district councils at the local level. We are also working with UNICEF and non-governmental organisations which include PLAN, Oxfam, and Goal.


Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what arrangements his Department has in place to assist officials to overcome the effects of stress experienced in the workplace. [222169]

Gillian Merron: The Department for International Development is committed to the well-being of its employees and has a number of procedures in place to help reduce stress at work. A stress management framework, part of our Better Balance initiative, is available through
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a dedicated website on the Department's intranet. It gives all employees easy to use advice on the successful prevention, recognition and management of stress at work.

Better Balance brings together the “toolkit” for dealing with all aspects of managing pressure at work, stress and work/life balance. Some examples of assistance include:


Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on taxis in the last financial year for which figures are available. [223034]

Mr. Malik: It is not possible to disaggregate costs in respect of taxis across all offices of the Department for International Development (DFID) without incurring a disproportionate cost. The figure available for UK based staff costs in relation to taxis, for financial year 2007-08, was £195,483.

Thailand: Refugees

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he has taken to raise concerns with the Royal Thai Government on the recent deportation of Karen refugees, including women and children, to Burma from camps in Thailand. [222582]

Mr. Malik: The UK Government is aware of recent reports of forced returns of Karen refugees from Thailand to Burma. The British embassy and Department for International Development officials in Bangkok frequently raise refugee welfare issues with the Royal Thai Government, most recently in August 2008.

In 2008-09 DFID is providing £1 million to the Thailand Burma Border Consortium for its work supporting Burmese refugees in Thailand and internally displaced people inside Burma. This is a 30 per cent. increase on our 2007-08 contribution. In addition, DFID will provide £550,000 for assistance to internally displaced people through community-based organisations inside Burma, an increase of £150,000 over 2007-08. This aid will reach over 100,000 displaced people, mostly in Karen communities, living near Burma's border with Thailand.

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The UK Government condemns the continuing human rights abuse inflicted by the Burmese regime on its people, including ethnic groups such as the Karen. A political settlement acceptable to the ethnic nationalities is key to a durable solution to Burma's problems. The UK Government frequently brings reports of human rights abuse to the attention of the international community, the United Nations and the Human Rights Council.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how he plans to ensure that his Department meets its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to (a) make development assistance inclusive and (b) include disabled people in all programme evaluations and reviews on ratification of the Convention. [218193]

Mr. Malik: The information is as follows.

(a) Inclusive development assistance

The Department for International Development (DFID) is aware of the importance of international cooperation as stated in Article 32 of the UN Convention. We understand the need to find ways to promote the inclusion of disabled people into mainstream development as well as looking for ways to build the capacity of representative organisations of disabled people. Our Civil Society Challenge Fund identifies disability as a cross-cutting issue so all applications need to demonstrate how they are engaging with disabled people. The latest round of applications saw a record number of projects with disability as the main focus (22 out of 145) which indicates that more international organisations are becoming aware of the need to promote the rights of disabled people.

We are supporting several initiatives aimed at increasing the capacity of disabled people's organisations. We have a Programme Partnership Agreement (PPA) with UK- based Action on Disability and Development which is working directly with disabled people's organisations (DPOs) in eight countries across Africa and Asia. Recently we also committed to providing substantial support to a new Disability Rights Fund (DRF) set up to empower DPOs to participate effectively in the implementation and monitoring mechanisms set out in the UN Convention. This is one of the first foundations to support organisations run by disabled people in the developing world.

As suggested by Article 32 DFID is also looking at ways to increase the amount of disability related research. We are currently funding the Southern Africa Federation of Disabled People Research Project (SRP) which is an innovative project designed and run by disabled people in the region. This project is helping local DPOs to research issues linked to disability and poverty and is already starting to produce evidence of the kinds of barriers disabled people face when trying to access basic services.

(b) Inclusion of disabled people in programme reviews and evaluations

All major country and thematic reviews are now quality assured to ensure they will address the exclusion of different groups. This includes disability as well as
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for example, gender and people affected by HIV and AIDS. Currently we are developing a new strategy for evaluation which will include reference to disability. The strategy will be available for public consultation.

UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the £0.5 million allocated to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs to improve dialogue between the humanitarian co-ordinators based in a country receiving aid and emergency relief coordinators will be spent on. [224131]

Mr. Thomas: The Department for International Development (DFID) is providing £0.5 million over three years (2006 to 2008) to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to support its efforts to strengthen UN humanitarian leadership at country level. OCHA has established a team at headquarters dedicated to humanitarian coordinator (HC) strengthening through delivering training and guidance to humanitarian coordinators in the field; expanding the number of experienced humanitarian coordinators available for deployment, including through improved leadership development; and enhancing the knowledge and skills of humanitarian coordinators through knowledge sharing and best practice.

Western Sahara: Politics and Government

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans he has to better support Saharawi refugees in the occupied territories in Morocco and Algeria. [222401]

Mr. Malik: The Department for International Development (DFID) supports Sahrawi refugees through its share of the European Community Humanitarian Aid Office’s (ECHO) budget, and contributions to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). ECHO plans to provide €10 million in 2008 to support Western Saharan refugees of which the UK share is approximately €1.7 million. In 2007, the UK contributed $56 million to UNHCR for its work with refugees across the world, including from Western Sahara. DFID’s funding to UNHCR in 2008-09 is shortly to be agreed.

Zimbabwe: Overseas Aid

Mr. Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans his Department has in place in the event of humanitarian needs arising in Zimbabwe. [222618]

Gillian Merron: The humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe is expected to worsen further this year as inflation, economic decline and hunger increase. The Department for International Development (DFID) has already made a contribution of £9 million in this financial year to the
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World Food Programme (WFP) for food aid and will consider making a further contribution if required. We also plan to spend £10 million this year through the Protracted Relief Programme. This complements emergency food aid by supporting livelihoods and helping to prevent families from falling into destitution.

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