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Volume 685: debated on Thursday 19 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their estimate of the current number of victims of drought and food shortages in Afghanistan; and what plans they have to respond to this situation.[HL7493]

We are in regular contact with the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and other relevant UN agencies about their assessment of the drought and attended the most recent update meeting at the Ministry of Rural Reconstruction and Development. The initial drought appeal was launched to secure pledges of in-principle support, prior to a proper assessment of the scale of the drought. The assessment results, including the number of drought victims and food shortages, are due to be released this month. On the basis of this information, DfID will evaluate its support.

Rural development is a key priority for DfID. We are a major donor in this sector and expect to spend around £35 million this year. The Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Reconstruction and Development are key partners. Putting our money through the Government ensures that they have predictable funding, and allows them to respond to their own priorities, including the drought.