Skip to main content

Africa Conflict and Humanitarian Unit

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the role of the Africa Conflict and Humanitarian Unit is; how many staff are employed in the unit; how much funding the unit has received in each of the last three financial years; what funding is planned for the unit in each of the next three financial years; in which countries it has been operational since its inception; and if he will make a statement. (110366)

The Africa Conflict and Humanitarian Unit (ACHU) was established in 2003 to co-ordinate DFID’s humanitarian and conflict prevention work in Africa. It works closely with the central Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE) on policy and the overall coherence of DFID’s global response. ACHU also provides the secretariat for the joint DFID/FCO/MOD Africa Conflict Prevention Pool (ACPP).

ACHU has a staff of 10, made up of the Head of the Unit, three humanitarian advisers, two conflict advisers, two programme managers, a programme officer, and an information and communications officer. Two regional conflict advisers, based in Africa, also report to the Head of ACHU. These work jointly to DFID, FCO and MOD under the auspices of the ACPP.

ACHU does not have its own programme budget, nor is it an operational unit. It is an advisory unit supporting DFID’s country and regional offices in Africa, and advising the Africa Director on the use of the divisional reserve to meet humanitarian needs. ACHU is also able to call on the central operational team based in CHASE for back-up support in the event of a major catastrophe or to provide supplementary staff support when work loads are high. DFID provides humanitarian assistance in response to needs across Africa as a whole, not just to those countries where we have a country programme.

DFID does not work with a fixed budget for humanitarian aid in Africa, but responds according to need and in proportion to the UK’s role as a leading humanitarian donor within the international community. Preliminary estimates of likely levels of need are made at the start of each financial year, and adjusted on the basis of ongoing assessments as the year unfolds. For this reason, it is not possible to predict what levels of humanitarian spending are likely over the next three years. We do, though, expect to maintain our position as a leading humanitarian donor.

Over the past three financial years DFID has spent a total of £565.6 million on bilateral humanitarian aid in Africa: £125.4 million in 2003-04, £171.0 million in 2004-05, and £269.4 million in 2005-06. In the three years since 2003-04, Africa’s share of DFID’s total bilateral humanitarian assistance has risen from 40.4 per cent. to 65.6 per cent. Humanitarian needs in Africa in 2005-06 were exceptional, and we do not expect spending to be so high in the current financial year.

In its role as secretariat for the ACPP, ACHU oversees a joint DFID/FCO/MOD budget for conflict prevention work in Africa. Over the past three financial years this has stood at £50.0 million for 2003-04, £60.0 million for 2004-05, and £60.0 million for 2005-06. In the current year the ACPP budget is £63.0 million, rising to £64.5 million in the next financial year. The ACPP budget is currently under review in the context of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. The forward budget for conflict prevention work in Africa from 2007-08 onwards is yet to be announced.

Since its inception, ACHU has supported DFID and wider HMG conflict and humanitarian work throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including in the Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, and South Africa.