|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Clare Short: Latest forecasts from the World Bank suggest that globally, meeting the 2015 target of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty is attainable. There has been progress. During the 1990s, the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day in the developing world fell from 29 per cent. in 1990 to 23 per cent. in 1999. This was mainly due to the substantial progress made during the 1990s in east Asia and, in particular, China.
In the developing world, progress has also been made during the 1990s against almost all the other 2015 millennium development targets. The proportion of children completing a full course of primary school increased from 68 per cent. to 73 per cent.; the under-five mortality rate decreased from 88 to 84 deaths per 1,000 births; and the proportion of people with access to an improved water source increased from 73 per cent. to 79 per cent.
However, to meet all of the 2015 targets we must do more. The sub-Saharan African region presents the biggest challenge to meeting the 2015 targets. We therefore need to make an enormous effort internationally to accelerate progress in Africa.
A detailed description of progress towards all the 2015 targets is contained in a recent World Bank publication: "World Development Indicators 2002", which can be found at the following website: http://www.worldbank.org/data/ wdi2002/worldview.pdf
Clare Short: We expect updated data on gender disparity in secondary education in developing countries to be published by the World Bank within the next two months. We will then use it to update our reporting against our Public Service Agreement targets.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the nature of the problems with the data on primary education in UK development partner countries that are published by the World bank. 
Clare Short: There are difficulties both in the coverage and the timeliness of primary education data compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and published by the World bank, for some of the major UK development partner countries.
The problems with coverage which we have encountered in reporting against the Public Service Agreement targets are due partly to the difficulty of calculating net primary enrolment rates (ie proportion of children of primary school age in school), often due to lack of data on the ages of children in school. Gross
1 Jul 2002 : Column 142W
enrolment data (which use the total number of children in school regardless of age) are relatively easy to obtain for most countries, but do not give a clear picture of the number of children who are out of school.
In some countries the reliability of the pupil data is also questionable due either to lack of technical capacity, poor school record keeping, or, in a few cases, political manipulation of the figures. Calculating net enrolment rates also requires figures for the population of school age children, which are often based on out-of-date census data. Where there are doubts about the reliability of either the pupil or population figures, UNESCO can often either decline to publish figures for a country, or revise earlier figures.
For most countries, it can take a long time for data produced at country level to be provided to international bodies (principally the UNESCO Institute for Statistics), be verified by them and published in international reports. For example, the latest officially published net primary enrolment figure for Uganda is 57 per cent. although we knew from our work in country that the figure is much higher and is probably over 85 per cent. This published figure is more than five years old.
We are working at country level and with the World bank and UNESCO Institute of Statistics to improve the availability of timely data on primary education to assist with policy making, both for developing countries and for bilateral donors and the international community.
Clare Short: UNDP, as one of the co-sponsoring organisations of the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), plays an important role in helping create enabling policy, legislative and resource environments for an effective multisectoral response to the epidemic. UNDP's key areas for action lie in supporting developing countries to take effective leadership, in developing capacity for action, promoting a rights-based approach and in impact mitigation.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the progress of the work of the United Nations Development Programme in energy and the environment. 
Clare Short: DFID is providing support to UNDP's Poverty and Environment initiative, which aims to ensure that 'win-win' options for reducing poverty while improving the environment are reflected in the strategies and practices of developing country Governments and their international partners. We are supportive of the work of UNDP as an implementing agency of the Global Environment Facility and of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. We are also supportive of UNDP's co-sponsorship of Energy Sector Management Programme (ESMAP) and their work in the Global Village Energy Partnership.
1 Jul 2002 : Column 143W
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with representatives of the United Nations Development Programme about the progress of its work on poverty reduction. 
Clare Short: I met UNDP's Administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, in Monterrey in March. We discussed a range of issues, including UNDP's work to promote the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent discussions she has had with representatives of the United Nations Development Programme about the progress of its work on democratic governance. 
Clare Short: Democratic Governance is one of UNDP's six priority action areas, and an area that DFID also prioritises in its work. I last had discussions with UNDP's administrator, Mark Malloch Brown, on this and other issues at the UN's Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Monterrey in March 2002.
My officials work closely with UNDP colleagues on democratic governance programmes in a number of partner countries. There is also regular contact between headquarters staff. For example, last month DFID's Chief Governance Adviser and other governance advisers met with the resident experts working at UNDP's newly established Thematic Facility on Governance, based in Oslo, Norway.
I have also accepted an invitation from UNDP to speak at the launch in July of their 2002 Human Development Report which has as its main theme the examination of the challenges of democratic governance and development.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the withdrawal of female foreign aid workers from field operations in northern Afghanistan. 
Clare Short: We are concerned about reports of insecurity in northern Afghanistan, including sexual attacks on women aid workers. The United Nations temporarily suspended the involvement of female staff on field missions in the north, but this suspension has now been lifted. Some non-governmental organisations have withdrawn staff as a precautionary measure. We support the actions of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Lakhdar Brahimi, who has written to President Karzai, and visited the north to discuss security issues with the various factions.
Clare Short: The UN World Food Programme's (WFP) current appeal is for $285 million (approximately £204 million) to feed up to 9.8 million people for nine months. Since October 2001, my Department has contributed £7 million towards WFP's operations inside Afghanistanfor both direct procurement and transportation of food, technical support and logistical support to help speed up the movement of food aid into the country.
1 Jul 2002 : Column 144W
We have also provided £3 million to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in response to its $271 million (approximately £194 million) appeal to support its operations for refugees in the region. This has included technical personnel, material and financial support.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much of the financial assistance committed by the United Kingdom Government to the reconstruction of Afghanistan has been disbursed since April, broken down by UN agency. 
Clare Short: Since April the UK has given £5 million to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, the first donor to do so. In addition we have allocated over £10 million to UNAMA, UNDP, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF and WHO and are currently in discussion with them to identify where the money might best be used. We are also in the process of disbursing £15 million to a range of NGOs, quick-impact projects and to the Afghan Authority for the Co-ordination of Assistance.
Clare Short: The food security situation throughout Afghanistan remains grave, as a result of decades of conflict and four years of drought. These shocks have overwhelmed the capacity of Afghan communities to cope with the loss of agriculture and livestock production, unemployment and burgeoning debt burdens. Afghanistan currently meets less than half of its national grain requirements, and around half its population is dependent on food aid. However, improved security and political stability will help provide a better environment for the efforts to improve food security in the country. Since October 2001, my Department has contributed £7 million to the World Food Programme and £2 million to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, for the provision of both emergency food aid and measures to increase food security.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|