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Volume 458: debated on Tuesday 13 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) humanitarian, (b) economic and (c) military assistance the UK is providing to Nepal. (126271)

The information is as follows.

Humanitarian assistance

DFID monitors the humanitarian situation in Nepal jointly with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and other international bodies. In 2006-07 DFID provided £400,000 to UNOCHA to facilitate its leadership in this monitoring role, plus to support its coordination of the international response to emerging and ongoing humanitarian crises.

In November 2006 DFID funded a detailed food security assessment by the Government of Nepal and UN agencies. In response to this assessment, DFID has contributed £250,000 to WFP’s current emergency operation in the Karnali region of western Nepal.

DFID’s overall contribution to humanitarian coordination and assistance in Nepal during this financial year has been £700,000.

Economic assistance

DFID is spending £36 million on development aid to Nepal in 2006-07. This is funding several major programmes that support economic growth, either directly or indirectly. Local livelihoods and economic activity in rural areas are being supported through DFID’s Community Support Programme, the Livelihood and Forestry Programme, the Rural Access Programme and Agriculture support programme. In addition, we contribute to the cost of national government programmes in health and education, which increases spending and human development, which in turn will increase economic growth and create a better environment for investment. Finally, DFID’s support to Maoist cantonments, the re-establishment of law and order, upcoming national elections and political inclusion initiatives are helping to build the legitimacy of the state and stabilise the country, which is vital for investment and growth.

Military assistance

The UK supports the transition of the Nepal Army to a regular professional army under civilian control. We are working with the Government of Nepal to develop appropriate structures, including a strengthened Ministry of Defence, to help achieve this. We do not supply lethal equipment to the Nepal Army and have no plans to do so. We are assisting with training and equipment to strengthen the Nepal Army’s ability to undertake mine clearance.

As part of the peace process, the UK is also supporting the establishment of temporary camps for Maoist combatants, and is funding the United Nations Mission in Nepal to conduct the registration and verification of Maoist arms and combatants.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to prevent the spread of AIDS in Nepal. (126686)

DFID Nepal has been at the forefront of Nepal's response to HIV/AIDS. In October 2005, DFID commenced a five-year, £15-million programme in support of the national HIV/AIDS programme. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) manages DFID's support in conjunction with their management of grants from the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria. DFID is currently the second major donor to the national HIV/AIDS programme, contributing 24 per cent. of the programme's resources from mid-2006 to mid-2008. DFID support is aligned to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and its corresponding Plan.

DFID supports 73 projects through 59 NGOs or community-based organisations in 27 of Nepal's 75 districts. DFID is the lead donor in support of services to: mobile populations; injecting drug users; people living with HIV/AIDS; prison populations; men having sex with men and male sex workers. The activities implemented range from information and awareness; peer education; voluntary counselling and HIV testing; harm reduction (including rehabilitation); care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS and safe blood supply.

In addition to bilateral assistance, DFID also supports prevention and treatment to Nepali migrants in Nepal and India through the Asia Regional Poverty Fund, a three-year, £2 million project which commenced in February 2006.

Over the last three years, DFID has worked closely with the Government of Nepal (GON), the UN agencies and the World Bank to develop the Three Ones: one policy and programme, one national co-ordination body and one monitoring and evaluation framework.

DFID plans to increase its policy engagement in HIV/AIDS. This will be focused on supporting the establishment of a national multi-sectoral semi-independent unit which can manage the programme, improve fund-flow to communities and attract more resources.