Skip to main content

Afghanistan: Drugs

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what support is being given to revitalise the Afghan economy as part of the UK’s counter-narcotics strategy in Afghanistan. (127070)

I have been asked to reply.

The UK is spending £270 million over three years to support the Government of Afghanistan’s (GoA) National Drug Control Strategy. We have helped the GoA create a Counter Narcotics Trust Fund to mobilise international donor support and develop Afghan counter narcotics planning and capacity. DFID plays a key role by promoting alternative, legal livelihoods to help revitalise the Afghan economy. Legal livelihoods can be regulated and taxed by the government, and form the basis for long-term, sustainable economic growth. DFID’s Livelihoods Programme, worth nearly £150 million between 2006-09, is supporting GoA National Priority Programmes to develop legal livelihood opportunities as alternatives to poppy farming. Examples include our £18 million support for the National Rural Access Programme (NRAP) and our £20 million contribution over three years to the Micro-finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA). NRAP has built essential infrastructure such as roads, bridges and irrigation schemes, and has generated over 15 million days of labour for Afghans. MISFA has so far provided small loans to over 230,000 Afghan families. This has enabled poor people who would otherwise not have access to credit to successfully invest in income-generating activities.

DFID is also contributing £9 million to the GoA to help boost legal private sector activity by reducing red tape and improving the business environment, and supporting the mining sector and encouraging foreign investment. Of this, £1 million has been channelled through a World Bank-managed Trust Fund which provides risk guarantees to attract foreign investors. In the past year, this Trust Fund has supported three projects which are expected to trigger over $26 million of investment, stimulate the cotton and pharmaceutical sector, and expand access to credit. This will help to further enhance private sector opportunities and revitalise the legal Afghan economy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many alternative livelihoods projects have been established in Helmand Province; and if she will make a statement. (127167)

I have been asked to reply.

DFID has helped to establish a range of alternative livelihoods projects in Helmand. We are providing £30 million over three years to the Helmand Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (HARDP), from 2006 to 2009. This programme is increasing alternative livelihood opportunities for the rural poor of Helmand by supporting the Government of Afghanistan's implementation of its National Priority Programmes. These include the National Solidarity Programme, National Rural Access Programme, Micro-Finance Investment and Support Facility in Afghanistan, and Water and Sanitation Programme. They are providing longer-term improvements in water and sanitation, essential small-scale rural infrastructure, and access to small loans, as well as improved roads, access to markets, agricultural inputs and training.

DFID is also funding the £3 million Research into Alternative Livelihoods Fund (RALF). This supports work on alternative livelihoods in Helmand, for example through the Restorative Agriculture and Rural Economy Research Project, which explores the export feasibility of numerous crops including grapes, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplants and okra. The project is evaluating different small-scale agri-processing industries, and producing case studies of value-added alternative livelihood options, for example tomato paste.

We are funding 114 Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) in Helmand. These are not all alternative livelihoods projects, but they do support a range of income-generating activities for poor people. These include furniture-making, construction, carpet-weaving and the provision of tractors for farming.