HC Deb 29 July 1998 vol 317 cc363-4
7. Helen Jackson (Sheffield, Hillsborough)

What assessment she has made of the impact of the measures announced in the comprehensive spending review on aid to community development in southern Africa. [51326]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short)

We are reviewing our programmes in southern Africa to ensure that they deliver poverty reduction and sustainable development. Community involvement is essential to ensure that services meet the needs of poor people. Total expenditure in the region will be about £70 million this year.

Helen Jackson

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Like my colleagues, I congratulate her and the Government on reversing the decline in aid spending that took place under the previous Government. I understand that she has recently visited Mozambique, which is of course one of the poorest nations in southern Africa. Does she plan—and if so, how—to increase the percentage of aid that goes to local, community-based projects in such countries, which help the people there?

Clare Short

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Yes, I have just visited Mozambique. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, where 65 per cent. of people live on the equivalent of less than half a dollar a day. The World bank reckons that living on a dollar a day is abject poverty. It is incredible that, despite Mozambique suffering everything monstrous that history can throw at a country, the people and the Government at all levels are determined to make progress—and are making it. I am very optimistic about likely progress in Mozambique. We are likely to treble our programme over the next few years from the extra resources made available, and we shall work with the Mozambique Government and local communities to involve all in improving health, education, economic management, enterprise development and crop-growing. There is lovely land in Mozambique, but much of it is under-used. Government systems and local communities need to work together to sustain progress in Mozambique.

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