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Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent reports his Department has received on the economic growth rates of Central Asian countries; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Departments contribution to economic development in such countries. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Growth rates in Central Asian countries are as follows: the Kyrgyz Republic (4.5 per cent.); Uzbekistan (5.7 per cent.); Tajikistan (8.7 per cent.); Kazakhstan (10.1 per cent.) and Turkmenistan (14.6 per cent.). Figures use the average annual real gross domestic product (GDP) between 2000 and 2007.
DFIDs work in Central Asia to date has focused on the two poorest and most fragile countriesTajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. In both countries, DFID supports the Governments economic growth plans, focusing on the need to ensure that they bring benefits to the poor and vulnerable, particularly in rural areas. For example, in Tajikistan, our work with rural communities in the remote Zarafshan Valley has provided access to microfinance for its 270,000 population. This is already leading to the development of successful small businesses. We actively support the European Bank for Reconstruction and Developments work in the region through their Early Transition Countries Initiative (ETCI). A recent independent evaluation of the ETC Multi Donor Fund (we have contributed £7.5 million over four years so far) confirmed that this was leading to a substantial increase in EBRD operations in most of the region.
DFID is currently preparing a new business plan for the Central Asia region which will be centred on promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth. Over the next three years our bilateral programme is set to increase from £10 million to £14 million per year.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The UK supports increased contacts between the EU and China on Africa. The visit by Development Commissioner Louis Michel to Beijing in April 2008 has provided a solid basis for further co-operation. The UK has contributed to the Commission Communication on The EU, Africa and China: Towards trilateral dialogue and cooperation on Africa's peace, stability and sustainable development. There is scope for China and the EU to engage more closely on both development and conflict resolution issues, in partnership with African countries.
Gillian Merron: The UK Governments updated AIDS strategy Achieving Universal Accessthe UKs strategy for halting and reversing the spread of HIV in the developing world sets out our approach for tackling HIV and AIDS in Middle-Income Countries (MICs). A copy of the updated strategy and supporting evidence paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These are also available on the Department for International Development (DFID) website:
As the strategy notes, MICs have substantial national resources to support HIV/AIDS responses. Therefore, international support needs to focus on transferring knowledge and expertise, helping ensure policies address inequality which have a pro-poor focus, and providing technical assistance and human resources.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, bilateral and multilateral partners, and civil society and private sector organisations to deliver an effective HIV/AIDS response in MICs.
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) uses estimates produced by the World Bank. The latest data are from 2004. It shows that 9.9 per cent. of people were living on less than $1 a day in East Asia. More recent data are currently being finalised by the World Bank using new measures of purchasing power generated from the International Comparison Programme.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Departments contribution to the multi-donor fund for the tsunami-affected areas of Indonesia on the re-building of social and economic infrastructure in the region. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) has committed £38.5 million to the Multi Donor Fund for Aceh and Nias (MDF), representing 11 per cent. of total funds. The UK is the third largest contributor. The effectiveness of DFIDs contribution has been reviewed annually. The last review concluded that UK support is meeting the objectives of responding efficiently and effectively to the needs of the affected population. Although the challenge of post tsunami reconstruction is large and complex, the MDF has made a significant impact. The MDF is managed by a Secretariat based in the World Bank, and applies high standards of financial management and sound anti-corruption measures. This has enabled the rebuilding of vital social and economic infrastructure. Results so far include the building or repair of over 3,000 houses, with a further 8,000 under construction or repair; 2,200 km of roads; 1,100 bridges; and transportation of 98,000 metric tonnes of reconstruction materials.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the level of risk experienced by (a) his Departments staff and (b) the staff of agencies engaged to implement his policies while working in Iraq in the last two years; and what the primary sources of such risks are. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Department for International Development (DFID) staff and technical advisers working on DFIDs behalf in Iraq are covered by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) risk assessment and security management procedures. The level of risk and its sources changes frequently, and security provisions are reviewed accordingly, to ensure maximum safety of DFID staff and technical advisers.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of its humanitarian assistance to Tajikistan following severe winter weather in 2007. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Over the last few months, staff visited all DFID-funded emergency activities in Tajikistan. This included meetings with beneficiaries who had received and used items from our air-lifts, as well as items distributed through funding to NGOs. Over 300,000 of the most vulnerable people were targeted specifically by NGO distributions. As a result, they were able to buy staple food and cooking oil, as well as use fuel and blankets to stay warm. Other benefits, particularly in more urban areas, included reopening hospitals which had been empty without electricity and drugs, and providing safe drinking water to those who had been without for several weeks.
Some emergency activities are still ongoing. Once they are complete, we will undertake a full impact assessment of our support. We have also urged the United Nations to undertake an evaluation of the impact of its International Appeal. Both assessments will help the international community and the
Government of Tajikistan improve their planning and response in the event of a similar situation this winter.
John Battle: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much funding his Department plans to allocate to the Three Faces of India plan in the next seven years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: To implement the Three Faces of India plan, the Department for International Development (DFID) will spend £825 million during the period 2008-09 to 2010-11. A budget has not been set beyond this period, but, depending on developments, the overall aid allocation is likely to decline as India becomes a Middle Income Country.
Mr. Douglas Alexander:
DFID funds a £14.6 million project on HIV prevention and harm reduction in Vietnam. The budget allocated to the programme in 2006, 2007 and 2008 was £2.3, £4.8 and £3.7 million respectively. A needle exchange programme is a key component of the assistance and has received a rising
share of the budget each year since 2006. The figures for clean needle distribution by the project are as follows:
|(1) Expected. 2.3 million were distributed in the first quarter.|
Mr. Douglas Alexander: In May 2008, the Yemen Ministry of Education reported to the Joint Annual Review of the Governments Basic Education Development Strategy. This is the most recent report the Department for International Development (DFID) has received, and includes data on gender equality in enrolment for the first nine years of education (basic education). According to the report, total girls enrolment in basic education was 1.8 million in 2006-07, compared to 2.5 million for boys. This represents a gender gap in enrolment of 29 per cent. However, many girls drop out of school early, with only 18 per cent. remaining until the last year of basic education.
DFID is contributing £15 million over six years (2004-09) to a multi-donor basic education programme. This programme aims to increase enrolments for both boys and girls, and to improve the quality of basic education. It also includes targeted measures to improve girls admission and retention.