Wednesday, 5 October 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Ethiopia is one of Ireland’s programme countries for overseas development assistance and is one of the poorest countries in the world. Ethiopia is ranked 177 on the UN human development index out of a total of 177 countries ranked. It is estimated that expenditures on the programme of development assistance will amount to approximately €30 million this year. Additional funding will be channelled through NGOs, UN agencies and missionaries.
Ireland’s aid programme in Ethiopia aims to support a process of poverty-reducing, self-reliant, sustainable and equitable growth. The programme is closely aligned with the national poverty reduction programmes of the Ethiopian Government. There is a clear focus on health, education and HIV-AIDS. For example, in Ethiopia there is only one doctor for every 36,000 people. Ireland is therefore supporting ambitious plans to place qualified health workers in every locality. Ireland is supporting interventions at the national and local levels with the aims of increasing awareness and facilitating voluntary testing and counselling in HIV-AIDS.
Ethiopia is subject to frequent drought and food insecurity. Ireland, through its emergency and humanitarian programmes, has sought to address the immediate needs of millions of those most affected. Ireland is now incorporating within its overall programme of assistance longer term initiatives to address the fundamental causes of food insecurity. Additionally, we are helping to build the capacity of the Ethiopian Government to design social safety nets, which will prevent millions from falling into destitution and starvation in difficult times. Under the safety nets programme, up to 5 million people will receive cash for labour.
I have arranged for a copy of the 2004 annual report of Development Co-operation Ireland which highlights Ireland’s work in Ethiopia and a copy of the country strategy 2005 to 2007 to be forwarded to the Deputy.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Zambia is one of Ireland’s priority countries for overseas development assistance. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, placed 166 on the UN human development index out of a total of 177 countries ranked. It is estimated expenditure on the development programme will amount to €18 million in 2005. Additional funding is also being channelled through NGOs and missionaries.
The overall objective of Ireland’s development programme in Zambia is to work with the Zambian Government, donor partners, civil society and local communities to reduce poverty and build sustainable livelihoods. To this end Ireland promotes social sector development, particularly health and education, works with local government in Zambia’s northern province and supports democratic processes. Obstacles that create or reinforce poverty such as HIV-AIDS and poor governance receive special attention. Our development strategy has a focus on service delivery as well as policy development and institutional capacity building of our Zambian partners.
The programme supports the goal of the Zambian Government’s poverty reduction strategy to reverse Zambia’s deteriorating socio-economic conditions and to contribute to the millennium development goals. The Zambian Government is preparing a new national development plan for 2006 to 2011. We will continue to align our programme with the national plan to maximise our effectiveness and to bring about real and positive change in the lives of the Zambian people.
I have arranged to forward a copy of the Development Co-operation Ireland 2004 report which details the work of Development Co-operation Ireland in Zambia and a copy of the country strategy paper for Zambia for 2003-05 to the Deputy.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Ireland is deeply engaged in the humanitarian and recovery needs of Sudan, both in the emergency needs in the Darfur region and also the longer term needs of other parts of Sudan which are now emerging from conflict. The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur involves considerable emergency needs for the displaced population of over 2 million people. Ireland has been extremely active in addressing these humanitarian needs including through our NGOs and UN agencies.
I visited Darfur in April 2005 and witnessed at first hand the effects of the conflict on the displaced population. I also met with NGOs and UN agencies working on the ground in Darfur which are making a huge contribution to the humanitarian response across the region. The terrible plight of the displaced, which I witnessed, reinforced the importance of providing a secure environment, so that those affected will be able to return safely to their homes.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, met with the Sudanese acting Foreign Minister, Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, in New York on 19 September 2005. The Minister stressed the importance which Ireland attaches to resolving the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the need for improvement of the security situation there and speedy conclusion of the political negotiations underway in Abuja between the Sudanese Government and the rebels.
Since 2004, Ireland has provided over €8.8 million in emergency support to Darfur. In addition, Ireland has committed €1.5 million since 2004 in support to the human rights, humanitarian and peace-building components of the African Union Mission in Sudan.
With regard to Ireland’s assistance elsewhere in Sudan, over 20 years of civil conflict has decimated the infrastructure and services of this vast country. The comprehensive peace agreement signed in Nairobi on 9 January 2005 provides new hope for the future of Sudan. At the international donor conference on Sudan, held in Oslo on 11 and 12 April 2005, I made a pledge of €15 million in support from Ireland to Sudan over 2005 to 2007.
Already in 2005, Ireland has committed some €8 million of its pledge in support to Sudan. Programming of the remainder of Ireland’s support will be consistent with the UN’s recovery and reconstruction plans for Sudan. Emergency and recovery funding support of €1.7 million for the south of Sudan has been provided already in 2005, inter alia, to Concern, Trócaire, Médecins Sans Frontières and the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF. Ireland continues to attach considerable importance to responding to the needs of vulnerable populations across Sudan.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Since 2004, an early end to the rains and desert locust damage to crops and pasture lands have adversely affected pasture availability and cereal production in the Sahel region of west Africa. These events exacerbated existing poverty and vulnerability, resulting in severe food shortages across a wide region, including in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania.
In response, Ireland provided prompt funding support of €3 million in August 2005. This was allocated and disbursed to Ireland’s NGO and UN partners. The NGOs which received support from Ireland, including Concern, Goal and Trócaire, are delivering feeding programmes which range from supplementary food distributions directed at the most vulnerable women and children to targeted community therapeutic feeding of moderately and severely malnourished children.
In addition to this funding, I asked Mr. David Andrews, chairman of the Irish Red Cross, to report on the findings of his visit to the region. He travelled there in August 2005 accompanied by an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Having assessed the situation, Mr. Andrews reported the country suffers persistent food insecurity but that extreme food shortages this year were caused by several converging factors, particularly the early end to the rains in 2004 which depressed agricultural yields, escalating food prices and invasion of locusts in some areas. Mr. Andrews estimated that 3.5 million people were in need of emergency food assistance and figures between 1 and 2 million people were classed as extremely vulnerable and needed food assistance urgently.
According to the latest information from the region, there are 5.1 million people affected by the food crisis across the Sahel region, including Niger. Harvest prospects are now being described as favourable. However, Niger remains vulnerable to repeated crises of food insecurity and malnutrition due to high household indebtedness and structural poverty. With regard to the particular circumstances prevailing in the region, humanitarian situation will continue to be kept under close and ongoing review over the coming period.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Uganda is one of Ireland’s programme countries for overseas development assistance. Uganda is placed 144 on the human development index out of a total of 177 countries ranked. It is estimated that expenditure on the development programme in Uganda will amount to approximately €29 million in 2005. Additional funding will be delivered via NGOs, missionaries and UN agencies.
Ireland’s development programme in Uganda is focused on poverty reduction and on assisting the most vulnerable sections of the population. The overall goal of Ireland’s strategy is to support Uganda’s efforts to achieve a pro-poor and sustainable economic growth, equitable social development and democratic governance. Support is provided in the key sectors of education, health and HIV-AIDS, justice, law and order/governance and agriculture.
Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world. There are, however, some encouraging signs. Arising from a committed partnership between the Ugandan Government and donor countries, literacy rates have risen to 69% of the population. School enrolment is at 86% of children. Uganda is one of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa that will meet the millennium development goal of having achieved universal primary education by 2015. Progress has been made in the provision of improved health, water and other services to the poor of the country.
Support for good governance has been a key component of Ireland’s development programme in Uganda. Assistance has been provided for the justice, law and order sector and for activities promoting protection of human rights and democratisation and combating corruption. Several donor countries, including Ireland, have made known their concerns about the pace of democratic reform and the transition to a multi-party system in Uganda. To signal this concern, and in line with the actions of donor partners, the Government decided to reduce its budget support for the 2005-6 fiscal year by €3 million. In close co-operation with other donors, this situation is kept under constant review.
I have arranged to forward a copy of the Development Co-operation Ireland 2004 report which details the work of Development Co-operation Ireland in Uganda and a copy of the country strategy paper for Uganda for 2003-2005 to the Deputy.
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