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Volume 531: debated on Wednesday 13 July 2011

From 2012, DFID’s work in Burundi will focus on supporting regional integration into the east African community through the British-led organisation TradeMark East Africa, which has opened an office in Burundi which DFID is funding. That is the right way for us to help the people of Burundi, rather than aid being provided through a small, expensive and duplicatory bilateral programme.

During a recent visit to Burundi, the vicar of Romsey and a group of parishioners found that one of the biggest problems was a critical lack of access to fresh water. Would the Secretary of State be prepared to meet them to discuss what they found, and how aid can be provided most effectively?

My hon. Friend has made a good point. I believe that I met the vicar during a visit at the time of the general election, but I, or one of my fellow Ministers, would be happy to meet him and some of my hon. Friend’s constituents to discuss this important matter.

The Secretary of State did not say in his opening remarks that Britain is winding down its aid programme in Burundi, a country in which more than 80% of the population live on less than $1.25 a day. What specific assurances can he give that other donors will take up the programmes in which Britain has been involved in so far?

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that Germany, Belgium and France have much larger bilateral programmes in Burundi than Britain. We are providing only 3.6% of the funding through our bilateral programme, but we have to make tough decisions about how we spend our budget. It is, after all, hard-earned taxpayers’ money, and we do not think it provides good value for money to have such a small programme with such high administrative expenses. I can tell the hon. Gentleman, however, that through multilateral support over the next few years Britain will spend about double the sum of the old bilateral programme.