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Technology: Developing Countries

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 18 April 2018

Our investments in technologies are saving and changing lives all over the world. Half of DFID’s £397 million annual research budget is focused on new technologies in developing countries in the health, agriculture, climate, clean energy, water, education and humanitarian response sectors.

Over the years, I have been fortunate to see at first hand how some of our aid budget has helped to develop technologies and engineer solutions that have changed people’s lives around the world. Can the Minister tell the House, however, whether any of the technologies that have been invented using our aid budget have been of direct benefit to people here in the UK?

I welcome the interest of the former Chair of the Science and Technology Committee in this important work and commend the Committee to hear from the team involved, because there are a range of different examples. Diseases know no boundaries, and the UK’s development of a test for TB is a good example.

Wales and Lesotho share the precious asset of water. Will the Minister support my initiative to bring together Welsh Water— the not-for-profit water company in Wales—and the Government of Lesotho to work on providing technological solutions to the problems that we share?

That is a wonderful example of the way in which Welsh Water and Lesotho water companies can work together to ensure that everyone has access to clean water.

10. Last weekend, the Government announced that they would spend another £25 million on cleaning up plastic from the seas and on new research into that. Developing countries are responsible for half of the plastic in our seas, but less than 1% of our overseas aid budget goes on helping those countries with waste management. Should we increase that percentage? (904710)

I know that my hon. Friend tried to give up plastic for Lent and saw what a challenge it is, which is why we were so delighted to announce over the weekend further funding for research that will help tackle the prevalence of plastic not only in developing countries but here at home.

In sub-Saharan Africa, one of the most comprehensive issues is the provision of clean water to many hundreds of thousands of people, and many small charities are doing that. Will the Minister work closely with them to ensure the provision of technology to develop that in future?

In paying tribute to the wonderful work that those small charities do around the world, I draw hon. Members’ attention to our small charities challenge fund, which is an open window through which they can bid for additional funding.