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Overseas Aid

Volume 479: debated on Monday 29 September 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to paragraph 7.53 of his Department's 2008 Annual Report, which Millennium Development Goals his Department is not on track to meet by 2015. (217228)

The official assessment of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is made by the United Nations (UN) each year. The last assessment was published last autumn in the UN's annual report "The Millennium Development Goal Report 2007", which is available at:

http://mdgs.un.org/unsd/mdg/Resources/Static/Products/Progress2007/UNSD_MDG_Report_2007e.pdf.

This assessment of progress was also reproduced in Annex 3 of the Department's 2008 annual report. The next update of global progress towards the MDGs is expected to be published later in September by the United Nations.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what scenario and contingency planning his Department has employed in its country programmes relating to fragile states; what the cost of such planning was; and what dialogue it has promoted with other Government departments, with reference to paragraph 8.10 of his Department's Annual Report 2008. (220384)

Scenario and contingency planning has been carried out by Department for International Development (DFID) country offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. DFID has also participated in joint UK Government scenario planning exercises in Kosovo and Iraq. Scenario and contingency planning has helped DFID develop a better, shared understanding of context within country offices and with other Government Departments, particularly the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD). It has helped DFID think through the mix of aid instruments and partnerships we should use, improve risk assessment and management, and define and test options for country plans and HMG strategies.

Six DFID country offices have drawn on some support from external experts as part of the work (Bangladesh, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan) and the estimated cost of this work has been £130,500. The majority of country offices have carried out the work in-house. A cross-Whitehall scenario planning group (comprising DFID, FCO, MOD, Stabilisation Unit and the Horizon Scanning Centre) has also been established centrally, and this group is sharing lessons and experiences of scenario planning work. DFID's new country planning guidance (issued on 14 July 2008) requires all country offices to include scenario and contingency planning as part of the process.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what progress has been made in meeting the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals Call to Action; what steps have been taken to increase the number of countries supporting the Call to Action; how much his Department has spent on Call to Action; what administrative costs his Department has incurred; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of Call to Action. (220496)

Progress to date against objectives on the Call to Action has included:

45 countries and the EC have signed up to the Call to Action, showing their dedication to achieving the MDGs. We expect the number of signatories will continue to grow.

The G8 and the EU in its Agenda for Action have reaffirmed their commitments on aid and agreed ways of accelerating progress on the MDGs.

Over 60 private sector leaders have signed up to the Business Call to Action. Some of these set out in the Business Call to Action event organised with UNDP in May how they will contribute through their core business to reaching the MDGs. Others will do the same at the UN meeting on the MDGs in September.

Civil society and faith groups are engaging in support of the Call to Action.

We have seen close co-operation by countries and others in co-ordinating partnership events that will help shape a common vision of how to accelerate action on the MDGs.

In order to help increase the number of signatory countries, UK Government representatives, working closely with our partners, have sought to raise the Call to Action with bilateral partners in a range of meetings over the past year.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has so far spent approximately £375,000 from its programme budget.

Based on salary costs, the administrative spend so far on the CtA, has been approximately £300,000 for the core team. In addition to this there are unquantified costs for the time of a range of other staff, who provide support as part of their wider responsibilities, and in-country costs incurred by the UK Mission in New York.

The CtA has been very effective in engaging a broad set of players to harness their potential to help achieve the MDGs. However there is still much to be done and we will continue to work closely with the UN and others.