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Departmental Budget

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what percentage of the Department's 2002–03 budget is spent on providing help to those without adequate access to water, food and shelter. [129248]

The central focus of the Government's policy on international development is a commitment to the internationally agreed target to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, together with associated targets including basic health care provision and universal access to primary education. We believe that reducing poverty is the best way of empowering people to take control of their own lives and gain access to basic requirements such as food, shelter and water.The Monterrey Consensus, agreed at the UN Financing for Development conference in Monterrey in 2002, recognised the crucial role played by developing countries' own poverty reduction strategies. Experience has shown that the reform agendas drawn up locally are more successful than those imposed from outside. More effective use of aid means moving away from donors allocating funding to selected sectors and donor-led projects to providing support that is consistent with poverty reduction strategies drawn up by the developing countries themselves. It is for this reason that we do not plan our resources on the basis of different sectors. Rather, we allocate funds to regions and countries and allow country programmes to determine priorities according to national plans.It is not therefore possible to provide an exact figure for the percentage of the Department's overall budget spent on particular sectors. Over half of the Department's overall budget is allocated to expenditure through multilateral organisations and other categories, such as direct budget support and humanitarian aid, where it is difficult to attribute precisely spending according to sectors.We are committed to the Millennium Development Goal targets on water and sanitation as well as to the adoption of national policies and strategies for integrated water resources management in all developing countries by 2005. Improvements to water management are central to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. DFID expenditure on water and sanitation in 2001–002 was £33.8 million. We do not yet have final figures for 2002–03.The United Nations agency responsible for shelter is UN-Habitat. The UK contribution is around £1 million a year (which in 2002–03 amounted to 27 per cent. of their core funding). We do not have figures on bilateral spending on shelter.The causes of hunger are many and include poverty, ill health, exclusion, conflict and natural disasters. Poverty is, however, the principal cause. The concept of 'food security' focuses on people's ability to obtain food, rather than simply on food production, which is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for tackling hunger. Policies to tackle food insecurity need to be based on a clear understanding of who is hungry and why. The design of such policies needs to take into account people's vulnerability, the impact of shocks and the effects of trade policies.DFID spent an average of around £275 million a year in the period 1998–99–2000–01 on Sustainable Livelihoods (including Agriculture and Food Security). Final figures are not vet available for 2002–03. This does not include short-term emergency food aid.DFID's total bilateral spend in 2001–02 was £1,506 million, of which £964 million can be allocated by sector (this does not include budget support or humanitarian assistance).It should be noted that all these figures are likely to understate the amounts actually spent in these sectors for the reasons given above and because, in the past, DFID only attributed expenditure to one sector even when an activity contributed to more than one sector.