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Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of which African countries will reach all Millennium Development Goals by 2015. (104974)

The official assessment of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is conducted by the UN at regional level and shows that for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, progress towards each of the MDGs is slightly or seriously off track.

Based on international MDG data, DFID assesses progress towards the international goals on a country-by-country basis. This year’s analysis suggests that many African countries will achieve some of the MDGs by 2015, or will have made substantial progress towards the goal, even though if current trends prevail, none is likely to achieve all MDGs by 2015.

For example, in Uganda, the education MDG ison track, with primary enrolment (MDG2) having increased from 62 per cent. to 86 per cent. in the decade to 2002. In Rwanda, the proportion of women in Parliamentary seats (MDGS) increased from one in six in 1990 to almost 1 in 2 in 2005. And although the child mortality remains high in that country, it is estimated to have reduced from 200 deaths per thousand children aged under five in the 1990s to about 150 per thousand in 2005.

It is important to note that while the Millennium Declaration was signed by member states and while countries have undertaken to monitor the MDG indicators, interpretation at country level may vary. Indeed, some MDGs targets are not applicable to all countries (e.g. some countries have no forest), while others may be too ambitious (e.g. a large number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have already achieved the goal of reducing extreme poverty by half with respect to 1990). On the contrary, some may not be ambitious enough. Countries make their own assessment of progress in national MDG reports, following their own customisation of the MDG framework. In total, about 40 countries in Africa have produced national MDG reports, which can be found at

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the impact of corruption and poor governance upon aid effectiveness in Africa. (105040)

The UK Government’s July 2006 White Paper puts governance at the centre of development and commits us to adopt a new quality of governance assessment to monitor standards of governance, and to intensify our efforts to help improve governance and combat corruption.

The quality of governance clearly matters for development. One study found that the efficiency of governance (among other issues) was associated with better rates of investment and growth and corruption with worse rates. The World Development Report of 1997 highlighted the importance of property rights, judicial reliability and control of corruption for investment and growth. Econometric studies have shown that the benefits of public health spending on child and infant mortality rates are greater in countries with better governance and that as countries improve governance, public spending on primary education becomes more effective in increasing primary attainment. Researchers have estimated that a country which improves its governance from a relatively low level to an average level could almost triple the per capita income of its population in the long term and similarly reduce infant mortality and illiteracy.

Aid funded projects are less likely to succeed where there is corruption and poor governance. A 1997 analysis of the impact of governance on the performance of a large number World Bank projects found that rates of return were higher in nations with greater civil liberties. Work at the World Bank Institute has highlighted a relationship between country corruption ratings and World Bank project success—especially for infrastructure projects.

These general observations and findings have a particular significance for Africa, the continent with the lowest overall standards of governance, as illustrated by the World Bank Institute’s worldwide governance indicators for the period 1996 to 2005.

DFID’s allocation of bilateral aid among low-income countries takes into account the likely effectiveness of aid in reducing poverty in each country. This is assessed by reference to the World Bank’s Country Policy and Institutional Assessment index, which includes governance indicators. Other factors are also taken into account, including relative need.

Focusing exclusively on countries with better governance and less corruption could be a way of reducing the risks of aid being wasted or misused, but would not produce the best overall impact. Since the mid-1990s, greater donor emphasis on rewarding countries with relatively effective governments and stable macro-economic policies has led to some neglect of fragile states, which have poor governance. Many of the poorest people live in these states and meeting the Millennium Development Goals will require progress there. Therefore, despite the risks and the challenges, DFID is committed to working not only in countries which are performing well, but also in fragile states and to finding ways of working more effectively in these states.