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Volume 453: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what response the Government plans to make to President Musharraf's call in his recent meeting with the Prime Minister for increased UK aid for South Eastern Afghanistan. (103113)

Since 2001, DFID has spent over £390 million on reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is DFID's fifth largest programme and we are the second largest bilateral donor, spending over £100 million in 2005-06.

DFID has already increased aid for southern Afghanistan in 2006-07, by committing £20 million to Helmand province, of which £14 million has been spent so far.

This includes £2 million of DFID money spent on quick impact projects (QIPs). Examples of what that funding has delivered include humanitarian assistance to IDPs and drought victims, permanent vehicle checkpoints to improve security, river bank walls reinforced and flood defences built.

It also includes £11 million to the government of Afghanistan which is supporting agriculture and rural development (Helmand Agricultural and Rural Development Programme). The first tangible results will be seen in the next few weeks when the first of 200 wells will be dug in and around Lashkar Gah and construction of 49 km of roads begun.

DFID expects to spend at least £50 million in Helmand over the next three years. Helmand gets more aid than any other province in the south of Afghanistan, according to government of Afghanistan figures. We are in discussion with donor partners on their plans for development assistance in the south of Afghanistan.