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10. Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions her Department has had about programmes to support the development of civil society and to combat social problems in Kaliningrad. 
Clare Short: The focus of DFlD's bilateral programme in Russia is at the federal level and in two partner oblastsLeningrad and Nizhny Novgorod. Kaliningrad is not one of the partner oblasts. However, we are major contributors to the European Commission's TACIS programme, which does work in Kaliningrad.
Clare Short: Most poor countries have adopted formal democratic institutions. We work in many countries to support their efforts to strengthen these institutions so that all their people, especially the poor, have effective representation and participation. To this end we have supported the development of the better working of formal political institutions: electoral processes, parliaments, civil society, the media; and political panties on a non-partisan basis.
In supporting these areas we often work through international organisations such as the Commonwealth and independent bodies such as the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
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There has been a substantial shortfall in Malawi's 2002 maize harvest (the country's main staple). DFID is at the forefront of efforts to help. Since January, my Department has provided an additional £4.6 million in direct food relief for distribution through local non-governmental organisations. We have provided a further £1.2 million for "winter" food production (expected to yield 75,000 metric tonnes of maize by September) and a much larger programme, timed to coincide with November rains, is in preparation.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action she is taking to improve food distribution by NGOs in southern Africa, with particular reference to Malawi. 
Clare Short: We have provided £5.1 million for NGOs to distribute food to those who are worst affected by maize shortages in Malawi. Now that the 2002 harvest is coming in, there is time to concentrate on improving national food security strategy. DFID is supporting joint Government, NGO, private sector, donor working groups to this end.
Clare Short: According to WHO, Malawi's recent cholera epidemic was one of the worst that the country has experienced with 981 deaths resulting from 33,510 cases. The epidemic started last October and reached a peak in March 2002, since when case numbers have returned to pre-epidemic levels. The average cholera case fatality rate was particularly high this year because the outbreak coincided with food shortage. In these circumstances, reduced attention to hygienic practices in food preparation and consumption led to increased infection rates; these contributed to higher death rates. A national shortage of intravenous fluids contributed to the difficulties in treating the abnormally high case load. The Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) only presented a situation report and appealed for assistance in mid-March, by which time it was too late to co-ordinate an external response and the epidemic was already waning. The MOHP and development partners in the health sector are planning support for improved disease surveillance and response to avoid the same situation arising next year.
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the next two to three weeks. DFID has spent £5.1 million since January on food relief in Malawi. We stand ready to do more in the light of FAO findings.
Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with the (a) European Union and (b) United Nations about a co-ordinated response to the humanitarian situation in Malawi. 
Clare Short: We are working closely with all donors represented in Malawi including the European Union and the World Food Programme. FAO will complete an assessment of the food situation in Malawi and the region within the next 23 weeks. Donors will then discuss with the Government of Malawi what steps should be taken to cover the maize shortfall.
Clare Short: The UN General Assembly Special Session on Children agreed an outcomes document entitled "A World Fit for Children" which sets global priorities for tackling child poverty and promoting child rights and repeated the UN commitment to the millennium development goals. The document gives particular emphasis to health, education, child protection and HIV/AIDS. The Chancellor of the Exchequer attended the special session and urged world leaders to provide additional finance to tackle child poverty.
Clare Short: We are committed to providing direct assistance to Georgia, in support to the Government of Georgia's poverty reduction and economic growth programme, working closely with the World bank and the EU.
18. Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what reforms she plans to support the heavily indebted poor countries initiative when the issue is discussed at the autumn meetings of the World bank and the IMF. 
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Clare Short: We are currently examining a range of options for discussions about the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative at the Annual Meeting of the World bank and IMF this autumn. Our key priority is to ensure that no country exits the HIPC Initiative with an unsustainable debt burden. We also need to look at debt relief in conjunction with other policies and instruments, to ensure that countries committed to poverty reduction are able to finance their poverty reduction strategies.
21. Mr. Pond: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what action her Department is taking to address the issue of debt sustainability for those countries which have qualified under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. 
Clare Short: The Government has been working to try to ensure that countries exit the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative process with sustainable debt levels. At the Annual Meetings of the World bank and IMF in Ottawa last November, we raised this concern and asked the World bank staff to revisit the debt sustainability analyses of all commodity dependent low-income countries, including HlPCs. The IMF and World bank analysis, published last month, shows that, although the situation varies from country to country, the external debt indicators for most HIPC countries have deteriorated, and several HIPC countries now face unsustainable debt burdens as a result. Following UK pressure, the World bank and IMF boards have agreed to provide additional relief to countries in this situation. This was reconfirmed at the Spring Meetings last month, and Burkina Faso became the first HIPC country to benefit from 'topping up' at Completion Point. We are also pressing the Bank and Fund to take more concrete action to encourage non-Paris Club creditors that have not yet delivered debt relief, to do so.
Debt relief is, however, not a panacea and further measures, including sound economic and debt management by HlPCs themselves, will be required beyond HIPC, to enable countries to maintain debt sustainability levels. To this end, the UK is co-financing a multi-donor funded project to help strengthen the debt management capacity in HIPC countries.
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