§ 5.9 p.m.
§ The Earl of Sandwich rose to call attention to the international development targets in southern Africa; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Earl said: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who are to take part in the debate. I welcome the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, back to her place. I declare a voluntary interest as a trustee of Christian Aid and a supporter of Save the Children and CARE. I assure the noble Baroness that we are all here not only for the advice we may offer but because we share a continuing concern for Africa, and a concern that Africa deserves special attention and should not be left out of our efforts to meet the international development targets.
§ I shall start with a word of caution, however. Africa has officially entered a new dimension. It has embarked on a new "economic" partnership known as NePAD, designed to create the most favourable environment for African development. On paper, it has all the hallmarks of the democracy, good governance, civil society, human rights and 1168 transparency that will bring economic confidence and prosperity. It is supposed to encourage African solutions, too. It even has a mechanism for avoiding bureaucracy or a stultifying committee structure. All that is welcome.
§ For all that, NePAD is not yet an equal partnership. Without a much greater degree of participation by local people and non-governmental organisations as well as governments, it will not succeed. It will be a bare framework that looks like a cover for western aspirations, an over-ambitious exercise that could founder on too many promises and resolutions.
§ The noble Baroness may say that Africa needs time and new enterprise, and that things will change. Who could disagree with that? However, she might also recognise that African leaders may not be prepared to give that time if the demands and conditions of international financial institutions and donors prove too much for them. Zimbabwe is a case in point, although perhaps an extreme one. Aid conditionality is still present in NePAD; it merely has new disguises.
§ NePAD has to win over corporations as well as governments. The noble Baroness will certainly draw attention to the Africa Economic Summit in June, and the prospect of attracting more private sector business partners and inward investment into Africa. It is a devout wish that all that will happen but, with emergencies, world economic uncertainty and the imminence of war with Iraq, it seems hardly likely that it will.
§ This coming week, we are again preoccupied with the Middle East, and we forget what serious consequences war in Iraq could have for Africa. The whole east African coast down to Cape Town has traditional economic and cultural links with the Gulf. South Africa has several important trade agreements that could be in jeopardy. In the minds of most European politicians, Africa is expendable when it comes to European and north American strategic interests. That is another example of the West espousing aid and human rights in policy documents and conferences on one hand, while ignoring the real needs of developing countries on the other.
§ I return to the main question: have our governments set an impossible task in Africa in establishing the millennium development goals? That may be, but the object of the debate is not to knock those goals down. It is to ask what progress governments have made with the overall objective, which is the elimination of poverty, illiteracy and ill-health.
§ Two years ago, on 26th February, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, and the International Development Secretary, Clare Short—as we must recognise, they have done an enormous amount to raise in government the issue of poverty—joined 14 NGOs, including Save the Children, Christian Aid and Oxfam, in a Westminster conference that placed child poverty squarely at the front of the Government's agenda. It also reaffirmed the millennium development goals. They are to ensure childrens education, health and protection from abuse and the evils of poverty, which we cannot tolerate in any society.1169
§ Next week those NGOs meet the Chancellor again to assess the progress made in reaching those targets. I know that the Government are committed to an expanding aid programme in Africa, but they have not yet convinced all the other Development Assistance Committee countries of the need to increase aid dramatically. At Monterrey, there was talk of doubling the annual ODA from 50 billion dollars to 100 billion dollars as a "finance facility" for the international development targets, and the Chancellor repeated that in an article in the Guardian last week. However, it will be a long haul. The EU expects to raise an extra 20 billion dollars a year by 2006, but the US plans to raise only 10 billion dollars. Much of that merely restores aid to its 1990 levels. Again, the key question for Africa is not about how much, but about what conditions will be attached to that facility.
§ Having seen the current research on the international development targets, although I accept that gains are being made in other continents, I do not believe that we are even going to meet education targets in southern Africa. Without education, I cannot see how Africa will have the necessary training and skills to reach any of the other targets. It would be easy for any government to plead emergencies as southern Africa's main reason for not reaching the targets, but I am sure that the noble Baroness will go beyond that assessment. I will mention those emergencies only briefly, as I am sure that others will do so in more depth.
§ HIV/AIDS, most of all, has cut a swathe through both human resources and genuine healthcare initiatives. The disease affects 16 million in southern Africa. It saps energy from skilled personnel in every profession and age group as much as from the general population. I know that the DfID is fully engaged in that emergency and have only one question for the noble Baroness today, of which I have given notice. In its 2002 departmental report, the FCO announced a management charter to protect its embassy and other staff affected by HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa. It is often through a generous interpretation of such practice that policy is most understood in the recipient countries, especially where it is a life and death matter.
§ In my experience with NGOs, however, I have occasionally seen harriers grow up between embassy nationals and local people. I expect that we have all seen examples of that. Will that policy extend to part-time local staff and partner health agencies? Will we show them that it is not only our own staff with whom we are concerned, but those working alongside them?
§ Another unforeseen emergency is the food crisis affecting 14 million in southern Africa. In some countries, that crisis is being contained through national mechanisms and rapid responses from the World Food Programme. In others, it is taking a daily toll of human life. The country suffering most in the region is Zimbabwe, for reasons of governance as well as natural disaster. I expect that other noble Lords will concentrate on the country. Having worked there briefly in the 1960s, I can only say that a beautiful 1170 country with a highly skilled and educated workforce is being held to ransom by a man who had held out so much promise to ordinary people.
§ If we can look beyond those emergencies, several countries in the region already have a brighter future. The first to mention are those recovering from decades of civil war—Angola and Mozambique. Angola has just signed its peace treaty and was the subject of a recent debate, and I visited Mozambique in December, 10 years after its own civil war ended in 1992.
§ Mozambique is one of those countries that seems to fulfil almost every criterion in the NePAD checklist, which is why it is a favourite with aid donors. It is post conflict, has stable government, is practising multiparty democracy and is attracting private investment. especially along the corridor to South Africa. It gained much credibility during the recent televised fraud and murder trial. It has a fair degree of civil society participation, and with encouragement from various embassies is making efforts to increase it.
§ Something has gone wrong, however. Mozambique does not yet show the results that people expect on the poverty scale. It has very poor communications, especially in terms of rural roads, and is still recovering from war and floods. Up to 17 per cent of its children may die of AIDS by 2010. Overall, its health services are overstretched. Its per capita GNP is well below the average. Like much of Africa, it simply needs much more investment in infrastructure, agriculture and services to give its rural population a chance of sustainable development. However, the world is not prepared to give that much support for agriculture. I recognise that the DIM is doing a lot for the port of Maputo and thus ultimately for export figures, but that is not directly assisting the poorest farmers when they have no means of getting their goods to market.
§ Debt relief of 2 billion dollars under the enhanced HIPC scheme, which amounts to a reduction of 70 per cent, may look generous from outside. Actually, it will leave Mozambique saddled with new debts in a few years' time. Christian Aid is calling for no less than full cancellation of its external bilateral and multilateral debt.
§ I have consulted the UN DP website and have looked down the checklist of millennium development goals for Mozambique. Out of the 10 targets listed, under the question, "Will the targets be met?", not one of them says, "yes". Five say "potentially", but five—including, critically, food, water, child mortality and even education—say "unlikely".
§ This is the star pupil, which will miss five critical targets. How are the other countries ever going to reach them at this rate of international commitment? Even the extreme poverty target, which potentially will be met, seems doubtful. It will, of course, require a more equal spread of investment than currently exists. For example, one single project—the 1.3 billion dollar Mozal aluminium smelter, which I visited in November—skews the overall export total. This structural inequality is the most fundamental flaw in the whole concept of averaging through the international development targets.1171
§ Mozambique, under its PRSP, or PARPA—the local name for it—has an interim target of reducing poverty by 30 per cent by 2010. But that would imply an annual economic growth rate of 8 per cent, which assumes very favourable conditions. Similarly, its debt sustainability is based on an almost unattainable export growth rate of 16 per cent in 2002–05 and 7 per cent thereafter. I have raised this question previously in the House. Such figures show how the international financial institutions can stretch statistics beyond credibility to show the most optimistic forecasts, leaving the country struggling to meet targets beyond its reach. I hope that the noble Baroness can at least assure me that the DfID will not make aid and debt relief conditional on such forecasts.
§ I turn now to the subject of' South Africa, which is, of course, the country in the region that offers the most promise with a GDP of 150 billion dollars—three times that of all the 13 other members of the Southern Africa Development Community combined. It is a key country in SADC and NePAD and a driving force of development through hosting the World Conference on Sustainability, racism summits and other conferences.
§ Having witnessed the 1994 elections on behalf of Christian Aid, I am proud of the ANC Government's achievements in certain sectors—notably their macroeconomic reforms through the GEAR strategy. And yet there is no sustained policy of poverty reduction, as there is in Mozambique. Unemployment is high, affecting at least 36 per cent of the economically active, including the informal sector. Although there is universal primary education, child mortality in South Africa is increasing.
As we all know, the AIDS campaign still needs political energy. I notice that Chief Buthelezi is making much political capital out of that at present. Inequality between the races has persisted, with only 26 per cent of blacks and 29 per cent of Asians having proper access to health services. compared with 78 per cent of whites. According to DfID's departmental strategy paper last year, it is,
one of the most unequal countries in the world",
with poverty still concentrated in the former homelands. The legacy of apartheid has left scars that will take decades to heal, and it is right that we are giving priority to the poorest.
§ Finally, I shall mention briefly trade. By protecting our own food producers, we are forcing Africa to stay poor because it still depends on sending us unprocessed products and unstable commodities, such as coffee and sugar. The necessity of genuine agricultural trade concessions in Europe, which I know the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, will mention, is paramount. Unless we make progress on these vital concessions, we cannot expect to meet the international development targets since our aid efforts, improved as they are, will not be enough. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Lord Sawyer
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for 1172 initiating this debate. His excellent speech reflected lifelong knowledge of, expertise in, and commitment to the continent. My contribution will be far less wide-ranging. I want to focus on South Africa and in particular on improving the economic performance of that country through the development of its workforce.
The DfID strategy rightly recognises the pivotal role that South Africa plays in the region and, indeed, the continent through both its economic strength and its political leadership. But South Africa still faces huge challenges as it addresses the legacy of apartheid.
The strategy also recognises that a key element in addressing poverty and inequality is the promotion of growth, jobs and equity. Growth in employment is a key to the reduction of poverty and inequality, but growth in employment is linked intrinsically to the level of skills in the workforce. Apartheid's legacy—in particular, the Bantu education programme—is the very low level of skills among much of the population. That hinders both employment growth and the competitiveness of South African companies.
The Department of Labour in Pretoria has developed a comprehensive national skills strategy designed to address the inequalities and lack of skills across the population. The strategy recognises that employers have an important role to play in improving the skills of the workforce. The key to that approach is to help employers to understand the business case for developing the skills of their people. All too often, as has happened in this country, employers have seen training and development as a burden and a cost. They do not see how training and development can raise the effectiveness, and often the loyalty, of the workforce. The lack of investment in skills development holds back the development of people, reinforces the inequalities of apartheid and stifles the economic growth of the country.
However, I am pleased to have the opportunity in this debate to draw noble Lords' attention to an important initiative, led from the United Kingdom, which is already making an important contribution to improving skills and competitiveness in South African enterprise and improving public sector reform.
For the past four years, I have served on the board of Investors in People UK. Many noble Lords will be familiar with that organisation. It has formed an important part of the skills and competitiveness programmes of successive governments in the UK under the sponsorship of the Department for Education and Skills since 1991. More than 30,000 organisations in the UK have benefited from Investors in People. I am delighted that we are now able to share this excellent approach to workforce development and our experience here with our colleagues in the South African Government. That brings benefit to individuals and, crucially, also helps to improve the competitiveness of organisations and, thus, the economy as a whole.
In developing its national skills strategy, the South African Department of Labour looked to learn from other countries' experience in developing its own 1173 solutions and approaches to workforce development. In doing so, it identified the Investors in People UK standard as the best example in the world of an employer-based skills development strategy.
We are frequently encouraged to look elsewhere for examples of effective policy and strategy. I am delighted to be able to say that the export of Investors in People to South Africa is an example of the UK leading and inspiring others. Incidentally, Investors in People has now been exported to more than 20 countries across Europe and beyond. It is the only people-management standard to have achieved international recognition anywhere in the world.
However, more important to this debate, since January 2001 Investors in People UK has worked with the Department of Labour to implement Investors in People in South Africa. Within a short time, a small team of dedicated and highly committed individuals has made enormous progress in raising awareness of the Investors in People programme and in involving employers and the workforce in tackling the skills development of their people.
In South Africa, Investors in People provides a framework that employers can use to improve the way they manage and develop their workforce. It has focused the employer on the importance and value of training and development, effective communication and good people management. If the organisations can demonstrate that they are meeting the requirements of the Investors in People standard, they receive recognition for that and become Investor in People organisations.
But Investors in People is much more than a business standard. It is a philosophy, a fundamental belief in the value that people can bring to organisations. At the heart of what organisations should be trying to achieve through good skills management is a shift in attitude among individuals, teams and companies that benefits the economy as a whole.
In the short time that the project has been running in South Africa a number of household names have become involved and committed to the principles of Investors in People. They include some of the largest employers in South Africa, such as BMW, Volkswagen, Old Mutual and South African Breweries. Equally importantly, there are many smaller organisations, for example, the Du Toit Farming Estate in Kromfontein, a rural farm in the Western Cape, which had a chronic skills shortage and where Investors in People was used to improve workforce development, communication and feedback from the workers and encourage a high degree of skills.
Last year I had the opportunity to go to South Africa to present the awards to companies, large, medium and small. I was thrilled by the excitement of workers who, never having had an opportunity previously to develop their skills, had gained such opportunity by taking part in this initiative. It was an important moment in my life.
1174 Just as important, the South African Government are demonstrating that they believe that Investors in People can play a role in developing the skills of their own employees. The DfID strategy rightly points out that to some extent the development of effective government policy and strategy is held back by lack of skills and experience of the civil service in Pretoria. While the Investors in People standard will not cure that problem immediately, it can help to make the process of improving skills and management much easier. The involvement of the Department of Labour, the Department for Public Service and Administration and the Department of Trade and Industry are all to the benefit of the economic development of this country.
Of course, it is important to acknowledge that we cannot simply take one approach from the UK and apply it to another country without understanding the context and relevant issues in that country. For example, in South Africa the standard has been adapted to ensure that employers are developing their people in line with legislation on equity. That will play an important role in ensuring that people who previously had no access to training or development now have that opportunity.
By 2005 the South African Government anticipate that over 500 organisations will have benefited from the new Investors in People programme, reaching a huge number of people employed in large and medium-sized companies and the public sector. That will be the platform for helping thousands of other smaller businesses and their workforces in South Africa.
I am pleased and honoured to have this opportunity to draw the attention of the House to this project and to the wider success of our UK standard of Investors in People that is working successfully in this developing nation. I would encourage the Minister to consider further the role that Investors in People can play in supporting the DfID strategy, not only in South Africa but beyond. I note that the DfID strategy does not at this stage include any reference to Investors in People. That is understandable because in the past it has been seen as simply a UK standard. However, now that it has been applied in other parts of the world, it would be good if this could be reflected and that the level of co-operation we have been able to establish with the South African Government were recognised and built on to make it an even more widely accepted and used international standard.
We have learnt much from our own approach and from sharing our experiences. It has been a cost-effective and beneficial means of supporting the development of the South African economy. I look forward to returning next year and seeing the smiling faces of workers who never before had the opportunity for proper training and development and being involved in a great expansion of skills and people development.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach
My Lords, like the last 1175 speaker I too thank the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for introducing the debate. I was delighted to hear the enthusiasm of the noble Lord, Lord Sawyer, reporting on Investors in People. I must declare a potential, not actual, conflict of interest. A proposal I want to consider later could have a financial benefit for an institution with which I am closely involved in the City of London.
As mentioned by the noble Earl, the situation in Africa can only be described as really dire. Without repeating what has been said, I shall mention a few points. GDP per capita in the region throughout the nineties has declined by roughly half a percentage point. Twenty countries in sub-Saharan Africa are poorer now than they were in 1990. They count for more than half of the region's population. According to the UN, 200 million people are under-nourished. Malnutrition is a leading cause of the death of children under five.
In over one-third of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa, every other child is out of school. On present trends, which are improving slightly, Africa will not witness universal primary education until 2100. One in six children dies under the age of five. As has been mentioned, 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have HIV; 10 million children are orphaned by AIDS.
The conclusion of the UN and UNICEF is that,Africa saw some success stories during the 1990s but, on balance, the continent's record in moving towards the Millennium Development Goals has been inadequate, especially for the poor. Twenty-three sub-Saharan countries are failing in half or more of the goals; twelve do not have enough data to be assessed … With the exception of safe water, regional progress was less than one-tenth of the agreed target between 1990 and 2000.I think we would all agree that that is a dire picture.
There are examples of success. One was given by the noble Earl—Mozambique. Uganda and Tanzania are others. In parts of the world with which I am more familiar, especially China, there has been spectacular success. In the light of that, surely the millennium goals are to be welcomed. They set clear targets which cover not only poverty but a whole range of indicators of social well-being. Sometimes those targets are attacked because they are arbitrary: 2015 is an arbitrary date. The period 1990–2015, 25 years, is again an arbitrary time period. However, I value the targets because they focus our attention on the urgency of the problem and the need for action now. Without those targets we would be less well off.
The danger today is that of indifference in developed countries. One may ask why the situation in sub-Saharan Africa is so dire. Partly, the reasons are external. They face, for example, a decline in the price of exports. Agricultural protection in both Europe and America is, frankly, a disgrace. It would be a tremendous boost in terms of trade and jobs to sub-Saharan Africa if agricultural protection was removed here, in other countries and in the US.
There are also internal factors. There have been weaknesses of domestic governance; misdirected policies; an investment climate which is not conducive to growth and productivity; and—dare one mention it?—there has been corruption. That is why the 1176 NePAD initiative is very important. Its principle is that Africa is saying that its development is an African responsibility and that it wishes to own it. Therefore, through peace, security and good governance, it can do something about it.
Furthermore, in the community of those interested in development—especially the World Bank—it has now become generally accepted that we cannot have real progress in reducing poverty in Africa unless the African economies themselves are prepared to strengthen the private sectors in their market economies and have private sector growth. For that to occur, one needs macroeconomic stability. There cannot be widely fluctuating budget deficits and inflation. One needs incentives to save for investment and for risk-taking and, in many countries, much clearer definitions of property rights and enforcement of contracts.
The conclusion of the World Bank, when surveying the whole area, was very interesting. It said:Clearly experience shows that the private market economy must be the engine of growth".Therefore, I believe we should be urging countries in sub-Saharan Africa to strengthen their private sectors. That is absolutely critical for removing poverty. Frankly, even if all the economies in the region were to show considerable growth in the next decade or two, that would not solve the problem of clean water, primary education, better and new roads, or meet the targets of public health.
That is why we need a boost to official development aid. Some are very much opposed to it. It must be said that in the past official development aid has been wasted, abused and even stolen. However, without a major boost in official development aid as NePAD and African economies are prepared to strengthen their market economies, we shall never realise the millennium development goals. In that respect. I applaud an initiative by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, introduced at the end of his pre-Budget Report last November: namely, the international development financing facility. Noble Lords may think it extremely generous my saying that, because on some issues I have not found myself on the same side as the Chancellor. But in another place Michael Howard, in immediately responding to the Chancellor's Statement, said:I start on a note of consensus. I welcome what the Chancellor said in his closing remarks about the relief of global poverty. He said that he welcomed the support that that would receive from all quarters of the House, and he was absolutely right. We support those measures".—[Official Report, Commons, 27/11/02; col. 327.]Basically, the Chancellor's proposal related to how one could get the extra £50 billion aid mentioned. Given the state of the world and individual economies, I cannot see that money coming from fresh aid. The Chancellor proposed that individual countries make a commitment not simply to give aid on an annual basis, but, for instance, for 15 years. Therefore, through the international capital markets, one could raise money by issuing bonds. Individual governments could then disperse that money as extra aid between now and 2015.
1177 At the very least, the proposal means that the time profile of aid would change. There would be a major frontloading of aid between now and 2015 and perhaps a reduction thereafter. Some would argue that as aid increased and visible improvement was evident, it would be highly likely that the level of aid itself would also increase.
I very much back the proposal. The part I find attractive—it may not appeal to all Members of the House—is the emphasis placed by the Treasury on conditionality. The aid must meet certain conditions. Each individual country that was part of this international development financing facility would be able to lay down conditions. The US has effectively already done so through its millennium challenge account. We have the opportunity to be very creative in how we approach the issue. We could involve the NGOs and the private sector more.
This is an ambitious proposal, but, given the dire nature of the situation in sub-Saharan Africa, nothing short of an imaginative gesture will tackle the problem. I believe therefore that we should support strongly the Chancellor's initiative.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford
My Lords, I greatly welcome this timely debate initiated by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. The Church of England fully supports the Millennium Development Goals and is using them as a basis for its development and advocacy work. However, based on current trends, we are concerned, as other noble Lords have indicated, that most of these goals will not be reached in southern Africa by 2015.
To reverse the stagnation or increase in poverty, hunger, child malnutrition, HIV/AIDS prevalence, deforestation and degradation will, at the very minimum, require massive year-on-year investment in basic health and education services, sustaining rural livelihoods, and social and economic infrastructure. It will also require consistent and concentrated political commitment from governments and donors to prioritise poverty in their domestic and foreign aid spending, and a furthering and strengthening of participatory models of development.
Several avenues exist for mobilising the required investment and plugging the increasing outflow of resources from southern African countries. One is an increase in bilateral overseas development aid to the long promised 0.7 per cent of GDP by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries with increasing expenditure on the poorest countries and not those that carry more strategic or political importance to donor countries. To that end, as has already been indicated, Christian Aid welcomes and supports the Chancellor's proposal for an international finance facility, which is intended to double the amount of developmental aid from OECD countries by 2015. It has grave concerns, however, that countries will have to continue to open up their markets indiscriminately as a condition for accessing more resources from this facility.
1178 Another avenue has to be the full cancellation of the external bilateral and multilateral debts, which date from the era of the oil crisis and structural adjustment policy lending, of Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and Lesotho, especially debt owed to the World Bank and IMF.
There is also the non-reciprocal opening of European Union, north American and Asian markets to specially processed agricultural, textile and clothing exports from southern African countries, which would encourage more domestic and foreign investment and therefore growth.
Lastly, one could increase the terms of trade in southern African countries by setting a target for an end to agricultural subsidies in OECD countries that continue to distort global markets for many commodities.
As other noble Lords have stressed, we are all aware of the frightening escalation of HIV/AIDS and its devastating impact on households, communities and economies in southern Africa. That, and the prospect of another year of serious staple food shortages across the region, is plunging large numbers of southern Africans into ever deepening poverty, thus compromising future agricultural production and rural livelihoods. In the spirit of a global partnership, the donor community needs to scale up dramatically and immediately its development assistance to southern Africa.
I shall focus on two main concerns. The first is what the MDGs can achieve. We all recognise that the MDGs are an important symbolic expression of the mutual responsibility of rich and poor countries for creating a more equal world. That has inspired the World Bank and other lenders to commit to new models of development partnership, where aid recipient governments and citizens, instead of lenders and donors, are in charge of developing their vision and journey. Although initial evidence indicates that the mindsets, cultures, and political commitments of donors and aid-recipient governments are still steeped in old ways, it is at least a step in the right direction.
The MDGs are an important mobilising, advocacy and campaigning tool for citizens, parliamentarians and development activities in development countries to advocate increased bilateral donor spending in budget debates, debt cancellation, fairer trading policies and spending on policies, activities and facilities that will contribute to poverty reduction. The MDGs are also a powerful tool for advocating the coherence of international financial institutions policy conditionalities and international trade rules and agreements with the vision of the United Nations for a more equal, less divided world.
The MDGs can encourage output-orientated policy making and expenditure allocation in national and local budgets. The MDGs allow citizens and policy makers in developed and developing countries to assess progress towards eradicating poverty. The MDGs can be used by citizens in developing countries to press for political commitments by 1179 their governments to reduce poverty through policy reforms, institutional change and budget reallocations.
The MDGs can establish clear criteria for spending priorities in the donor community. The MDGs can achieve all those aims.
My second locus is global partnership for development. The goal to develop a global partnership for development will he realised only once donor governments and the institutions that they control—the IMF and World Bank—stop receiving debt service repayments from low-income countries on debts that have accumulated as a result of the 1980s debt crisis, and start working towards a mechanism that will guarantee sustainable debt levels in future.
For example, Mozambique, to which other noble Lords referred, Zambia, Tanzania and Lesotho will still pay more debt service to the international financial institutions, bilateral donors and commercial creditors in 2005 than they did in 2000. That clearly threatens the global partnership and those countries' ability to finance the interventions needed to achieve the MDGs. The Church of England's Public Affairs Unit has been calling on the IFIs, the DfID and the international community at large to measure debt sustainability against the resources needed to reach the millennium development goals in each country, and has called for a new debt relief mechanism.
The Public Affairs Unit has also urged the UK Government to increase their spending on HIV/AIDS by at least £750 million a year, to bring it in line with the UN call for a fivefold increase in global resources to win the fight against HIV/AIDS. That money should be channelled mostly through existing bilateral and multilateral aid mechanisms. Without massively scaled up funds to implement HIV/AIDS prevention programmes and to provide sufficient care to peoples and communities living with HIV/AIDS, as well as to invest in public services and economic sectors decimated by the epidemic, six out of the eight MDGs will not be met.
Finally, as was stressed by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, southern African governments themselves need to commit to a long-term investment in poverty reduction and to be held accountable for the resources that they manage on behalf of their countries. That will depend on visionary and dedicated political leadership committed to poverty reduction as a priority and to strong, well-resourced public institutions and mechanisms that can sustain and deliver basic services and thereby bring fresh hope to the southern African population.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, I owe an apology to your Lordships, especially the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for not being present when he opened the debate. The previous debate collapsed early and my calculations went awry.
I bring no special knowledge—I have done nothing practical all my life—but I can speak as an academic. Fifty years ago, we would have had a similar debate about not Africa but Asia. Fifty years ago, we were worried about starvation—famines—in China and India, that the growing mass of the Asian population would be unable to feed itself and that Asia might become a dangerous place.
I say that partly to illustrate that it is easy to be gloomy but things may change, and partly to pose a question about which I have been worrying quite a lot lately. How is it that, compared to the early 1960s, when we were much more optimistic about Africa, which had a much more favourable resource situation, and were much more pessimistic about Asia, today, 50 years on, we have reversed our regions of pessimism and optimism? We now regard Asia as something of a success—perhaps east Asia more than south Asia—and Africa as a dire problem. We must continually think about that, because there are lessons to be learnt for Africa from Asia's success that we have not yet learnt.
I have arrived at the conclusion that Asian governments, corrupt as they often are—they are not all democratic, either, although they are more so recently—have in some sense been more responsive to their people and less alienated from them than African governments. That is a generalisation and, as with all generalisations, one may point to particular exceptions. But neither a Mobutu nor a Bokassa regime has happened in Asia. The worst was Marcos. Corrupt as the Asian elite are, they do not salt away their money in Switzerland or France; they spend it at home. That shows not that they are not corrupt but that they are not alienated from their people, which is an important element of governance.
About 10 years ago, Basil Davidson wrote a book called The Black Man's Burden, in which he discussed the failure of African countries to make a success of nation state formation. It is a burden. The important aspect is not only what we call governance, but when the members of the political elite become responsive and not alienated from their own people. We need to look at how Asia has succeeded in that regard. Asia has multi-ethnic populations as in Malaysia; it has had a colonial experience; it has had all sorts of natural disasters; but it has managed.
From the 1970s to the 1990s there have been more civil and international wars and conflicts in Africa than in Asia. Somehow Asia escaped early and has not had a serious war since the 1970s. But southern Africa, in particular—Angola, Mozambique and other countries—has been through vicious wars. The international community has either stood by, in some senses, has aided or abetted in the wars, or has failed to solve them. Today, happily, apart from the sad case 1181 of Zimbabwe, there are few such situations. But the cessation of hostilities in Angola and Mozambique, in particular, and the removal of apartheid in South Africa have not yet led to positive fruits. Such changes take time. We must remember that much of southern Africa is in a post-conflict recovery situation, and development is difficult in those circumstances.
Many noble Lords referred to rural development, especially in agriculture. Asia had a green revolution that transformed the prospect of feeding people in India, China and throughout the continent. Such a revolution has not yet touched Africa. African agricultural productivity was, broadly, higher than that in Asia in the 1960s. Africa is now behind; its productivity has not grown, and, if anything, its agriculture has deteriorated.
Part of the answer lies in what the European Union and the USA have been doing. As many noble Lords pointed out, the European Union's agricultural policy does positive harm to African agriculture. I have been quoted as calling it a "crime against humanity", and I stand by that. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford, who is present, will remember that we participated in a press conference at which we highlighted the example of Ghana. Ghana's tomato industry was encouraged; people said that it should have tomato-canning factories; but then Italians ruined the Ghanaian tomato industry by dumping their surplus tomatoes in the country. How can one have a growing agricultural industry in a country on which a very rich continent continually dumps its agricultural surplus because it has a horrid agricultural subsidy policy?
Apparently, the European Union will now protect its subsidies policy under the guise of an environmental issue. I have never heard anything more sickening than what the EU is doing in the WTO negotiations. But let us hope that the WTO negotiations on agricultural adjustment will be successful. Let us hope that the resistance to it will not be successful and that export subsidies will be cut. I know that the DfID and all my noble friends in the Government will try their hardest to reverse the EU's position and to make it a better behaved institution than at present. We should also urge our American friends to reduce their agricultural subsidies so that we do not do any more harm.
Do not give more aid; but do not do so much harm. If you give 50 billion dollars in aid and 500 billion dollars in agricultural subsidies, do not increase the aid, but reduce the 500 billion dollars of subsidies. I would not even mind if the saved money was kept. But the 500 billion dollars does enormous harm. Our stance ought to be much stronger. I wish that the anti-globalisation movement demonstrated against agricultural subsidies rather than against the WTO—but that is another story.
I believe that the essence of NePAD is right. I think that eventually African development will be solved by Africa. I am not optimistic about altruism as a driving force in societies. Economists tend not to trust altruism; they trust self-interest. If we can stop 1182 harming Africa, encourage trade with it, and encourage it to invest in rural development, perhaps the millennium development goals will not be realised by 2015, but at least we will be well on our way to doing so.
§ 6.6 p.m.
§ Baroness Whitaker
My Lords, I add my congratulations to the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for initiating this timely debate and for the thoughtful and committed way in which he introduced it. As he says, the UN millennium development goals risk not being met in some countries of southern Africa. The goals deal with tasks for which aid in poor countries is necessary but not sufficient. Indeed, in the regions where the goals look as if they will be met, such as India and China, much more is going on than development assistance. There is significant investment in enhanced crops, for instance, such as GM cotton, which has achieved an 80 per cent increase in yield while cutting pesticide use by two thirds.
I want to mention some links between aid and the other essentials for reaching the goals; and to identify some of the gaps in the way that we look at the goals. Some of my examples go beyond southern Africa, but the principles are all the same. Although aid can create the basis, in terms of health, education, adequate water supply and so on, the engine for achieving development is the economy, fuelled by the nation's trade, its foreign direct investment, and, in many poor countries, the remittances of its emigrants. Fifty per cent of Lesotho's GNP is contributed by remittances. Let us not forget that benefit from economic migration.
Foreign direct investment has not been adequate in the poor countries of southern Africa. Indeed, the richest 20 per cent of the world's countries hog 68 per cent of foreign direct investment. That is hardly surprising. Investors will not come, no matter how cheap the labour rates, if there is not the basic national asset of a healthy, educated population. The millennium development goals rightly prioritise those. But other elements are also necessary: the good governance that rests on accountability, political stability, an effective state, transparent and honest financial transactions, as the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, mentioned—those other national assets that are achieved in democracies with a strong civil society. There are some in southern Africa. They are, in effect, the creation of a local culture. They are inherently rights-based. But they are not explicit in the millennium development goals; we have to read them in. I am indebted to a very interesting new paper, Heaven or Hubris, in the latest Development Policy Review by Simon Maxwell, director of the Overseas Development Institute, for clarifying some of those issues. I add that, where rights-based goals have not been met and there is no democracy, in extreme poverty, there is the breeding ground for violent resentment, insecurity and eventually terror.
The Cotonou agreement was a good model for governance goals, although we have moved on from its trade policies to the Doha agenda. I ask my noble 1183 friend the Minister how Cotonou is working now. We should also applaud the ongoing march of NePAD—applause echoed by other noble Lords—which includes the goals of transparency and good governance on which my noble friend has worked so hard and about which my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall will speak.
The critical path of development is also driven off-course by events that particularly deter foreign investment—war, drought and famine. The resulting huge displacement of people is additionally destabilising. Nearly three quarters of the world's refugees, far from coming to the West—least of all, the United Kingdom—are in developing countries. I saw the burden on the Côte d'Ivoire of Liberian refugees, when I was there just before the coup. Our Department for International Development does a great deal to minimise the tragic human consequences of events and help prevent them from recurring, giving well over £100 million of humanitarian aid bilaterally and through the EU. My right honourable friend the Chancellor's proposal for an international financing facility, described by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, could lever up aid, so that we would be well on the way to meeting the goals.
There has been progress. Untying aid, as the Government did two years ago, has made UK aid, arguably, three times as effective, through enabling more appropriate technology and assisting local procurement. Would that our French and Japanese allies could bring themselves to do the same. Jubilee's research into the effects of the debt relief that my right honourable friend the Chancellor was instrumental in procuring shows large increases in spend on primary education. In 10 heavily indebted poor countries, including Cameroon, Malawi and Rwanda, education spend rose from a little over 900 million dollars—I am sorry that I have dropped into using dollars—in 1998 to 1.3 billion dollars in 2002, and health spending from 466 million dollars in 1998 to nearly 800 million dollars in 2003. Those are not huge amounts by our standards, by they go a long way in the rural areas of Africa.
Trade, the other part of the engine of development, is deeply undermined in southern Africa by the EU and the US approach to tariffs, as all noble Lords said. It is surely a bit rich for the USA to demand liberalisation abroad, while protecting its own vulnerable industries from fair competition from the developing world. The new and authoritative report of the Select Committee on Economic Affairs on globalisat ion says:developed countries' protectionism … with regard to agricultural and textile products in particular is wholly objectionable and unjustifiable".Agricultural goods matter in particular because that is what developing countries mainly produce and because agricultural trade brings the surest economic growth for poor people.
I agree with Oxfam that there is need for care in doing away with protection for developing countries' own produce. As my noble friend Lord Desai implied, countries that recently emerged from poverty in Asia sheltered their local industries while they grew 1184 competitive. Surely, what we need is liberalisation on the part of the rich countries who can afford it and who claim to value fair competition, not least in the interest of their consumers, combined with managed and gradual progress from protection policies by poor countries, supported by credit and other facilities.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, spoke tellingly about Mozambique. I would like to add one example from their sugar industry. Before its war, Mozambique was a very successful exporter of sugar. That was discouraged, incidentally, by the IMF for reasons best known to itself. But Mozambique picked up again and now produces well over 200,000 tonnes a year. It is produced at half the price of European beet sugar. Would not that help European consumers?
But Mozambique was allowed in 2001 to export only 8,000 tonnes to the EU and 12,000 to the US. Oxfam estimates that, even with a slightly rising quota, in 2004 Mozambique will have lost the chance to earn perhaps £108 million. I need hardly remind your Lordships that in Mozambique many people are poor beyond a European's worst nightmare. Three per cent of its population will starve without food aid. Your Lordships might like to know that European consumers and taxpayers pay £1.6 billion a year to fund European exports of sugar to undercut sugar from developing countries and that British Sugar's profit margin in 2001 was 21 per cent.
The WTO asked last week for the elimination of all export subsidies for farm goods over a 10-year period. The European Commission says that the proposal is "unbalanced" and inequitable. The stark truth is that the millennium development goals, on which much of the peace of the world depends—as well as the lives of millions of ordinary people—cannot be met in southern Africa unless farm trade is eased and market access made free. As today's Financial Times puts it,If the deadlock on agriculture is to be broken, the onus lies with the EU. Its farm subsidies are the world's biggest and most trade-disturbing and are matched by grotesque import harriers".When we advocate market access for the exports of the developing world, we are talking about straightforward fair competition. But we are also talking about equality and about averting personal catastrophe for millions. It is truly a policy for the many not for the few. In response to those who say that Western governments must heed the objections of their farmers, we should recall the prospect of war and terror. If the countries of the European Union can drop their tariff barriers to prevent war among themselves in post-Second World War Europe, in our modern global world, we should do no less.
I ask my noble friend what the UK objectives in the European Commission and at the WTO meeting next month will be. How will our Government help developing country members raise their voices and determine the agenda? Farther ahead, can she promise that, at the ministerial WTO conference in Cancun in September, there will be priority for sorting out trade equity before dealing with new issues?
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ The Earl of Listowel
My Lords, I too am grateful to my noble friend Lord Sandwich for tonight's debate. I am advised by Christian Aid that the greatest impediment to the achievement of the millennium development goals is the spread of HIV/AIDS. I will concentrate on how we might inhibit the spread of HIV/AIDS in Angola and ask the Minister whether she considers that Her Majesty's Government give sufficient priority to the issue.
Angola is of strategic importance in southern Africa because of its location and its diamond and oil wealth. All its regions—except Cabinda—are now at peace, after decades of civil war. Despite the challenge of resettling former combatants, displaced people and returning refugees, it has the potential in the longer term to be an engine for development in the region.
Mr Lukamba, secretary-general of UNITA and leader of the forces that fought against the ruling MPLA, recently made a historic visit to London. His calls for greater transparency and better provision for all excluded groups in Angola were, I think, welcomed by Her Majesty's Government. In his speech to an audience at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, he said:I also come to advocate dignity for the millions of displaced Angolans, the refugees, the demobilised soldiers from various armies, those with physical disabilities caused by the war, orphans, widows and the thousands of children who populate the streets with no support and subject to predators".If no coherent strategy is developed to counter HIV/AIDS within Angola, there may be many more thousands of children populating those streets with no support and subject to predators.
In 2001, a group of parliamentarians met some of these children. Orlando was 12 and slept under a hot-dog stand near to the United Nations residence in Luanda. He was interested in football and basketball and we talked about that for some while. He would gather his food from the dustbins—chicken scraps or whatever else was available.
We spoke for some while before another boy interrupted us. This boy lived in the sewers nearby. He entered the street through a road drain. Previously, he had threatened a member of the UNICEF staff with a knife and torn that man's shirt as he had lunged at him with the knife. Orlando was intimidated by him, as we were.
If we fail to inform young Angolans about the dangers of unprotected sex and of other means to prevent HIV infection, the HIV/AIDS orphans may come to outnumber the Orlandos—those displaced by war—on the streets. Furthermore, there is the risk that these many thousands of uncared-for children may become a source of instability in Angola. Your Lordships may find the following extract from the Economist magazine of 30th November 2002, headed "Forty million orphans", of interest. I quote:In the rest of Africa, the big worry is orphans with guns. They are 'putty in the hands of warlords', says Hamish Young of UNICEF. Abandoned children know their lives are likely to be short, so they figure they may as well seek thrills while they can. Gangs or rebel armies can provide substitute families, while 1186 orphans can make attractively nihilistic recruits. Children as young as five fought in civil wars in Sierra Leone. Liberia, Congo and Uganda and have been responsible for many of the worst atrocities".It was encouraging to learn from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the wife of President dos Santos, Mrs Anna Paula dos Santos, recently presented a three-hour television programme on the prevention of HIV/AIDS which, according to the World Health Organisation, gave a very strong and clear message to the viewers. However, I am advised that there is still no clear priority on the part of the government of Angola on countering HIV/AIDS. One understands why this should be so. The government of Angola face urgent demands to respond to the hunger of their people, to the need for resettlement, to rebuild the nation following the civil war and to prepare for elections.
Mr Van Dianem, vice-minister for health, spoke to Mr Baillil, the World Bank official responsible for HIV/AIDS in the autumn of last year. The vice-minister requested funding to provide retro-viral treatment to mothers to prevent their transmitting HIV/AIDS to their infants. The expense of such treatment would confine its use to four of Angola's regions. The World Bank representative urged a broader public health campaign which would impact on 80 per cent of those affected. The two parties, as I understand it, are still in discussion on the way ahead.
Perhaps I may detail a little further the effect of HIV/AIDS on a nation's development. HIV/AIDS orphans are more likely to lose both parents; both their parents are likely to share the contagion. In Africa, these children may well be taken into the extended family or wider community. Inevitably, then, they will normally stretch the resources of families already living in poverty. The same group of parliamentarians visited a family in which the mother was an aunt to children whose parents had died from HIV/AIDS and she had taken in the three children. We spoke to the eldest son, who was bright and lively and aspired to become a doctor. But one must be concerned at the additional strain on that family and any aspiration in that direction would be unlikely to be fulfilled.
Girls and boys are removed from school to assist their hard-pressed families or to care for parents who are suffering from AIDS-related diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Key workers appear particularly likely to become infected with HIV/AIDS, so infant and maternal mortality rates rise as lack of professional staff worsens. Angola, according to the UN, already has the second highest infant mortality rate in the world. I look forward to hearing from my noble friend Lord Chan on the situation for mothers and girls in southern Africa.
The same group of parliamentarians saw how effective a small local organisation of young people could be in promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS. In Lubango, a town in southern Angola, we visited the offices of Prazedor. In the local market, young people were speaking to young men about condom use. They were distributing literature and ribbons to cars and 1187 passers-by in the streets. While doing so, these young Angolans were developing skills in book-keeping and management valuable for their future careers.
A senior diplomat from Mozambique recently advised me that we need to understand two things as we address HIV/AIDS in Africa. First, we need to understand the reluctance of adult Africans to speak about sexual matters with children and young people. Secondly, we need to understand the importance of small organisations working in the community of the kind I mentioned and to support them.
The gentleman's first point may help to explain some of the significant resistance to developing a robust, coherent, clear programme against HIV/AIDS in Angola. It may therefore be all the more important that HIV/AIDS prevention is given the greatest weight in discussions between Her Majesty's Government and Angola. However, I am advised that HIV/AIDS prevention seems to lack priority both in the UK's most recent strategy for Angola and the strategies of the European Union and the United Nations. I have not read these documents, but have received this advice from one of the NGOs working in the area.
Like other noble Lords, I pay tribute to the hard work that the Minister and her colleagues in government undertake in order to improve the outcome of the people in Africa. I conclude therefore by asking the Minister whether she is satisfied with the priority given to HIV/AIDS in Her Majesty's Government's plans for future engagement with Angola. Will she continue to press the Angola Government and the international community hard on this matter? There may be continued resistance because of what appears to be a cultural taboo on the subject—and for other reasons—but success appears to be vital to the achievements of the millennium development goals.
I have not given the Minister notice of those questions, and I shall be happy to receive a written reply if that would be more convenient. I look forward to her response.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Lord Chan
My Lords, I add my congratulations and thanks to my noble friend Lord Sandwich on securing a debate that has an urgency now sadly obscured by political developments elsewhere in the world, particularly in the Middle East. As has been pointed out by other noble Lords, the Department for International Development has set crucial targets for southern Africa. The foremost of them is the reduction of poverty by half by 2015—the so-called millennium development goals which also have associated targets such as the provision of basic healthcare and universal access to primary education by the same date. They are essential to the welfare of poor people, particularly of women and children.
I will focus on the needs of women and children living in the five southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. I intend to ask the Minister how models of 1188 good practice funded by DfID in other developing countries may be implemented in southern Africa for improving the health of women and children.
As all noble Lords agree, the most important health problem in southern Africa, and in other countries of Africa, is HIV/AIDS. Recent ante-natal surveys of pregnant women by the UN AIDS department of the WHO revealed that between one in five and one in three South African women between the ages of 15 and 49 years—that is, those in the reproductive age range—are infected with the HIV virus. As the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, said, some 60 million people in Africa have been infected with HIV.
This finding means that in the next 10 years some 5 to 7 million people in southern Africa will die during their prime years, leaving some 2 million orphaned children. I have gleaned this information from DfID's report on southern Africa of October 2002.
Poor people with HIV infection, eating inadequate food, lacking access to medical treatment and living in poor conditions are vulnerable to other opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis. Malaria is also endemic in southern Africa. A combination of HIV, TB and malaria kills millions of people, particularly in Africa.
Currently, 10 per cent of new HIV cases in southern Africa arise from mother to new-born baby transmission, an infection that can be reduced substantially if retroviral drugs are given to pregnant women. But these drugs are not available to many pregnant women in southern Africa. Instead, we read of advice being given—which we would give to women in western developed countries—that "If you have HIV, do not breast-feed your baby". If this kind of advice were followed in southern Africa it would almost certainly mean that the baby of an HIV-infected mother who was not breast-fed would die of diarrhoea.
Infection rates of HIV among girls between 15 and 19 years is alarmingly high. This reflects the low rate of condom use in sexual activity—yet another area of healthcare on which we need to focus.
But other hazards also cause premature deaths among pregnant women. The lack of access to antenatal services will lead to women dying from undiagnosed high blood pressure, anaemia and difficult births that require admission to hospital.
Treatment of tuberculosis in young adults and children can save lives. A BCG vaccination is particularly helpful in preventing tuberculosis in children. Malarial infection can be mitigated by giving children anti-malarial drugs as a preventive measure, and the doses required are much smaller than those needed for treatment.
In South Africa, the majority of poor people are black Africans. Only one in four has access to health services compared to eight in 10 white people.
Although the picture of poor health I have reported is very depressing, solutions to address them are available and have proved to be life-saving in poor countries, in Uganda and in Asia. We know that 1189 women with primary education are able to keep themselves and their children in better health than uneducated women. The best example of this success is in Kerala, a southern state of India, where the majority of people are poor but have health indicators similar to those in richer countries such as Thailand. The reason is clear. A woman who is educated makes good decisions about the care of her family, of her children and, particularly, of herself. One of DfID's targets is universal access to primary education. Girls in southern Africa must be made a priority group for such education.
Access to basic healthcare is denied to three out of four black Africans. Surely this is an area of service in which DfID should encourage African governments to invest and to work in partnership with NePAD, our own Government, the European Union and voluntary organisations and charities which have a track record in the successful transfer of skills in developing countries.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, DfID's predecessor encouraged British institutions to work in partnership with governments in developing countries. I was privileged to work with my colleagues in northern India on such a scheme. I spent about 10 years going to and from this country into the five poorest and most populated states of northern India to develop and improve basic services for pregnant women and babies. This process took between three to five years in the poorest state of all, Orissa—which had a problem with overwhelming floods only four years ago—but we were able to leave Orissa with local doctors, midwives and trained birth attendants to continue running a good-standard, sustainable service for poor people.
Even if we no longer want to engage in this kind of aid, we can encourage health teams from other countries, such as Thailand, to go to southern Africa to share their skills and their system for controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS. Thailand has been particularly commended by the WHO and other agencies for its successful control of the spread of HIV/AIDS.
I was privileged to take a team of doctors, nurses and managers from northern India to Thailand in 1992 to learn how HIV/AIDS was managed in the community in a developing country. The members of the team returned to India to implement what they had learnt in another developing country. I know that they have done well and are particularly satisfied with the sustainable pattern of management of this disease. Would this pattern of partnership be helpful in southern Africa? We will not know if we do not try it out. I await with interest the Minister's answer.
Medicines are expensive but they are essential for the treatment of people with infections. If products from western countries are too costly, why not buy generic drugs manufactured in Asian countries, such as India, where there is quality control of the drugs of companies based in this country?
We are all aware that the Government have done well in the area of overseas aid, but we need to work in more imaginative ways in partnership with our 1190 African colleagues. I have been in touch with people from southern Africa who are living in the United Kingdom. They have said that they will be delighted to return to work in their former countries to assist in establishing and developing health services for mothers and children, but as British citizens.
I look forward to the Minister's response. I have not given her notice of these questions but I hope that she will be able to comment on them.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Lord Lea of Crondall
My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, on introducing this very important debate, even though I do not accept some of his key arguments. I shall come to that in a moment.
The main thrust of my remarks will be on the theme that G8 conditionality is now inescapable if the crisis in Africa is not to become chronic. The World Bank millennium development goals document refers to the problem of slow growth in the past decade, as the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, pointed out; hence these dreadful figures, which are growing, of the number of people living in poverty. To halve poverty by 2015, African economies will need to grow at a rate of 7 per cent per annum.
I am an economist of sorts. One has to be reasonably numerate about these matters, and I challenge anyone to say that they disagree with that kind of figure. But how do we get from where we are now to that point—which is a necessary condition, and certainly not a sufficient condition, for solving the problem?
I wear a new hat these days as vice-chair of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Africa, which I helped to set up, together with Hugh Bayley, MP. Its terms of reference are to promote Africa—and, in particular, issues relating to NePAD—in Parliament. I wish to emphasise with all the power at my command that we have to put a very big number of eggs into the NePAD project. It is home grown in Africa. It is, to coin a phrase, the new agenda for the new Africa. It is relevant to the kind of challenges identified by the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths.
NePAD is in my view the most hopeful thing to have come out of Africa since the release of Nelson Mandela. I congratulate the British Government on their document, G8 Africa Action Plan: UK Implementation up to G8 Summit 2003—the Evian meeting at Lake Geneva this summer. Given that the meeting will take place in France, I hope that we shall have close relations with France in seeing what we can do to push the action plan forward. There are major problems—not so much between Britain and France, which it need hardly be said is the case, but in the peer review process.
The eight chapters of the NePAD document are important. I shall not list them all. The first deals with peace and security, and includes governance. All the chapters interconnect. We cannot cherry pick between them.
1191 Perhaps I may quote some of the GDP figures for the period 1990–2000. There were falls in the figures as follows: for Sudan, the figure of 1,355 dollars per head was down to 315; Liberia—614 down to 258; Angola—1,076 down to 588; Zimbabwe—8,767 down to 5,408. No one can doubt the major connection in those countries with conflict and poor governance.
I accept all the points made about the finance facility, and I congratulate all those involved. I agree substantially with the points made about the WTO and shall return to a couple of them in a moment. But it will not do to propose all those billions of euros in terms of trade liberalisation—which is true—as if they somehow represent more than half the agenda. Can we seriously think that all the other matters in the NePAD document are not essential; and is that not the agenda which is now reaching a crisis point before, we hope, it goes substantially forward?
Perhaps I may add a further comment on our relations with France, as the major ex-colonial powers in Africa in this regard. I have always had a special interest in Anglo-French relations and I congratulate the two governments on the joint projects since St Malo. I shall attend a conference in Paris in March on making the trade union role in NePAD work from the ground up. I shall take the opportunity to hold discussions with French parliamentarians—wearing my Anglo-French parliamentary hat as well as the Africa one—on what we can do together to promote breakthroughs in NePAD.
I draw attention to the fact that the communiqué at Le Touquet last week contained a substantial section on Franco-British relations and co-operation in Africa. Ranging from the French Diplomatic Office being part of the British High Commission in Freetown through to joint visits to the Great Lakes and so on, there is a substantial and hopeful new opportunity. From reading the front page of the document, you would not think so; but on reading the inside pages one sees that there is now a creative opportunity for the British and the French to work together on African questions. I did not realise until I read the document in detail how committed France is to NePAD.
§ Lord Lea of Crondall
My Lords, let me give the noble Lord a figure. France remains the leading donor of bilateral aid to the African continent, having provided it with more than more than 4.5 billion euros in 2001. That is a great deal more than we provide. Unless someone can say that I have got the figure wrong, I think that it is about time we recognised that we are not going to be able to improve our joint commitment to delivery in terms of assistance in the new NePAD programme unless we work very closely with the French in NePAD and give a lead in the European Union. After all, it is about time that we and the French gave a lead on something in the European Union and I think that this is it. Britain and France have a great deal in common in this area.
1192 The countries which are the ringleaders in NePAD—I refer to Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria. Senegal and South Africa—have all experienced a long history of deep-rooted conflict inherited from or in association with colonialism and have been at the forefront of liberation struggles. It cannot be said that we do not have that kind of history in common. There is also the need work together to push forward the review process at Evian.
I take up a point made by my noble friend Lord Desai about why Asia has done better than Africa, and I relate it to the success story of Mauritius. Mauritius is the only country in the world which is part of the African Union and the Association of South-East Asian Nations. The noble Lord, Lord Desai, will be interested in this point. A group of senior UK economists—not necessarily from the Treasury, but not a million miles away—visited Mauritius 30 years ago and stated in their report that the country had no prospects. They said that arrangements should be made for a substantial part of the population to emigrate; that there would be no substantial prospect of raising living standards—indeed, the prospect was one of mass poverty. These were the best of the British economists at the time—and they got it about as wrong as it is possible to get it. I have written such reports myself, but one can get some of them wrong. Today, when we remind ourselves of that anecdote and ask what their secret was, they say that every African leader asks them that question when they go to Mauritius. The answer is not just hard work and adaptability—that is apple pie. It is ethnic peace, recognising the contributions of the Indians—whether Hindus, Muslims or Buddhists—the Creoles—the term used in Mauritius for people with a black African background—the Chinese, the French and the British. They speak both French and English in Mauritius. That rang a bell with me because of the brief period that I spent working in Uganda before Amin. All those ethnic groups were there, they worked well together, and the economy was successful at the time of the transition from the colonial era to independence.
I have one point of disagreement with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. We must have conditionality. We will not get right into the African societies on these points unless we recognise that our insistence will not be easy for African leaders. It will get through to African leaders only if it is conditional.
We are used to conditionality in Britain, in Europe and in the Balkans. It is about anti-corruption; it is forced on people initially and then they succeed. That is the case for conditionality. Peer review will work in Africa only if we can press some conditionality on it from the outside. It is a delicate balance, but that is the challenge we have to face.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Baroness Northover
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for introducing this very important debate. Debates such as this return our attention to the most pressing issues in the world today. It is too easy, when there are daily and hourly 1193 developments on the world stage, such as those in the crisis over Iraq, to focus on those alone, neglecting appalling problems elsewhere.
The international development targets are important reminders of where we should be heading, reminders of particular significance, especially when all efforts seem to little avail. Surely the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, is right that such targets focus attention. Surely the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford is also right that they are important campaigning tools.
I would like to group the targets in a particular way. The aim to reduce by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 underlies all the other targets. It seems that a longer term aim has to be access to education and health services for all. These are surely the tools to achieve the first target. They are the key to increased prosperity. The noble Lord, Lord Chan, certainly made that crystal clear in his example from Kerala, India.
The most immediate aim for us must surely be to secure access to adequate food, reduce infant and maternal mortality and improve access to reproductive health services. Without these, we are simply abandoning whole swathes of men, women and children.
Other speakers have referred to some of the key issues. The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, praised the Chancellor's initiative on how best to finance growth and development in the least developed countries. It is encouraging to see the cross-party approach on these issues. We need to ensure that strings are not attached to this in terms of opening markets. It is good to see the UK Government's approach, which contrasts with that of the United States Government in particular.
I have just returned from a parliamentary conference on the World Trade Organisation. Loud and clear came the message about removing European subsidies and opening our market. But a few voices from the least developed countries pointed out that their lack of infrastructure made them very vulnerable to other developing countries, such as those in Asia mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, if they were to open their barriers.
We must actively seek the removal of Europe's protectionism, but we must also ensure that moves towards free trade are moves towards fair trade, lest the least developed countries become poorer still.
Other speakers, especially the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and the noble Lord, Lord Chan, have focused on the HIV/AIDS problem, and I should like to do so as well. The depths of poverty in southern Africa mean that when something goes wrong, it goes disastrously wrong. The situation was dire enough in southern Africa before HIV/AIDS loomed on the scene. The very nature of deprivation in southern Africa—malnourished people, lack of education, lack of healthcare systems, lack of communications, enormous disadvantages among women and girls, in particular—have all made this problem far worse than elsewhere in the world. It has spread like a forest fire, 1194 taking with it those who have no reserves to withstand further misfortune, in turn making the crisis even more profound.
As we have heard, in some southern African areas, one third of the population is infected by HIV/AIDS. Largely, those people are in what would have been considered to be their most economically productive years. The effects of that will be seen for decades to come, even if intervention were stepped up now. As Oxfam puts it:The HIV/AIDS pandemic is an unparalleled setback in human development".The disease obviously adds to the burden on already overstretched health systems. It has had a disastrous effect on education. As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, pointed out, it often forces families to take their children out of school, whether because of sickness, loss of income or to take care of sick family members. In each case, HIV/AIDS is creating costs that extend beyond children today to the children of tomorrow.
Women account for a large share of the population affected by HIV/AIDS. Over half of those infected with AIDS in Africa are women, as the noble Lord, Lord Chan, has explained. Almost everywhere, the burden of caring is borne disproportionately by women.
HIV/AIDS is the biggest single threat to the attainment of the millennium development goals. It is on a bigger scale, in terms of its effect, than anything else. The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is absolutely right to say that the Government and the European Parliament must now fully recognise this. I know that the UK Government have greatly increased their budget in this respect.
Huge public health campaigns are clearly needed, and that needs political will, both in African countries and on the part of western countries. The United States has just stated that it will put an extra 15 billion dollars into AIDS prevention, but with a strand focusing on abstinence. Whatever we may think, this paternalistic approach simply does not help matters. It does not help when the United States cuts its contribution to the United Nations family planning association because of unacceptable pressure on the president from some of his own fundamentalists in the United States.
When an NGO tells me with pride just how many free condoms it provides in one southern African country, and we work out that that means one condom per male per year, we can see that preaching a message of safe sex is likely to fall on deaf ears.
I was delighted to read last week that a vaccine for one strain of HIV/AIDS was being trialled in Uganda. If it proves to be of value, it will be a major breakthrough. I trust that the Government will play their part in promoting such research.
Then there is the issue of TRIPS and agreement on the provision of drugs for the poorest countries. The World Trade Organisation's Doha declaration that the least developed countries could override patents and authorise the manufacture of cheap generic versions was a step forward. Again, the United States' 1195 block on that is deeply depressing. The failure of the current talks to move the issue forward is dreadfully predictable.
There has to be enormous concern at the delays and that the next round of WTO talks in Mexico in September will be hogged down with too many items on the agenda that remain unresolved from earlier discussions. It is a slow and frustrating process, while all the time people die in Africa.
I therefore welcome the Chancellor's statements reported in the Guardian yesterday. He said that,nobody can claim special privileges when people are dying unnecessarily".I welcome his argument that the pharmaceutical industry must stop blocking the agreement to provide cheap medicines in developing countries.
James Morris, the UN special envoy for humanitarian needs in southern Africa, stated on 29th January in Johannesburg that,without a radical and urgent approach, which addresses the terrifying reality of the pandemic and how it is indelibly woven with chronic food shortages, even worse crises will stalk vulnerable people for generations to come".As many speakers have explained this afternoon, the problems of southern Africa are dire and urgent. There is a temptation to focus elsewhere at the moment, with all that is happening in the Middle East. We owe it to those in the region not to lose sight of those wider problems, but the future stability of the world also depends on using the targets that we are debating today as something more than merely symbolic.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Lord Howell of Guildford
My Lords, I join others in thanking the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for initiating the debate and giving us an opportunity to look at the serious and worrying scene in southern Africa. I shall concentrate my early remarks on the looming emergency across the region and then make a few remarks about longer-term development goals, in the context of the sobering figures that my noble friend Lord Griffiths mentioned of shrinking GDP per head in the region. There has been a long series of deteriorating figures over the years. The noble Lord, Lord Lea, also gave some chilling and precise figures of falling and diminishing incomes in those countries. Those comments alone should lead us all to wonder whether those who are advocating more of the same in aid policy have got it right and whether we should not think again, as the noble Lord, Lord Desai, rightly reminded us, about the whole development equation. I shall come to that in a moment.
The emergency is colossal. In December, our lively and robust International Development Secretary, Clare Short, wrote:it is not scaremongering to predict that within a few months the region could be experiencing a catastrophic humanitarian emergency".That is just about upon us now. The Middle East has inevitably been mentioned. If the worst happens in Iraq—which I think is highly likely—we shall face a colossal humanitarian emergency there too, with 1196 1.5 million frightened refugees and starving people. The resources of humanitarian effort throughout the world will be strained to the limit.
All sides have correctly stated that the situation in southern Africa is deteriorating rapidly because of failing harvests and a reduction in crop yields, which have led to an immense food shortage. That has been heightened by the appalling drought and by the terrifying spread of many varieties of HIV/AIDS, mutating in a drug-resistant way, which is very hard to keep up with, as the noble Lord, Lord Chan, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, have reminded us. Problems are also caused by wicked policies by governments, which I shall come to later. All these factors have led to failed states and the pattern of child gangsterism—referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, and others—which fills our newspapers with appalling pictures of atrocities and horrors.
One can be too gloomy about that pattern. We must not forget that, while there are similarities in the crises affecting the countries of the region, there are also fundamental differences in their circumstances, which lead to complex problems in formulating effective aid packages. Amid the disasters and grimness there are real areas of success and hope here and there, but not nearly enough of them.
For example, most agricultural activity in Malawi is based around rural smallholdings producing a single harvest. It was never a prosperous country, but it was a happy one. I visited it many years ago. In recent years, adverse weather has produced much lower than expected crop yields, leading to the current food crisis. Along came the IMF, telling the Malawi Government to balance their budget by selling their grain stores, which they did. The result today is no grain, none being grown and growing starvation.
In Swaziland, the majority of food is imported while a quarter of the population require food aid. Zimbabwe used to be the great grain exporter of the area, but is now sucking in such grain resources as are available from around. We shall come to more of that in a moment. The situation is different in Zambia, in South Africa, in Angola and in many other countries. Each presents a tangle of problems and a tremendous challenge to our excellent aid administrators to respond effectively and in a targeted way.
We all agree that the unilateral assistance packages and the emergency aid provided by the British Government in recent years have been very diligently applied and have worked well. They have not solved the problems, but they have worked well within the inevitable limits. The relationship with nongovernmental organisations in the recipient countries has often been slightly uneasy, but effective, providing real support to some of the poorest people in southern Africa.
On top of that, this country has a huge role in influencing what aid is given by the international community as a whole and how it works. We have had some powerful and useful contributions on that this evening. I am advised that the appeal of the United Nations World Food Programme, which has been 1197 trying its best to stem the tide of starvation in Zimbabwe, is currently only 50 per cent funded and will run out of food for the region in the next couple of months. If I am wrong about that or if there is something to be done about it, I am sure that the Minister, who keeps close to these things, will tell us.
Meanwhile, other programmes, such as those for essential drugs or the means to access water, are funded at even lower levels. I have already mentioned the difficulty that the nature of the drugs needed changes with the mutating nature of HIV. We need to hear what action the Government are proposing over and above all the excellent things they are doing to encourage other nations to participate in funding these international programmes.
Many of your Lordships, including the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, have wisely mentioned politics and the emphasis on good governance. Much of the current crisis, which involves 14 million people starving in the region, is due to the drought and the spread of AIDS, as we have all said. However, it has to be accepted that government policy in several of the affected countries is making the situation much worse, delivering a lethal brew of corruption, restriction and disincentive to prevent the process of prosperity and wealth creation going forward and raising living standards.
My attention was drawn to the case of Swaziland, where the cost of food aid is 19 million dollars annually, yet it was recently reported that the government had opted to spend 45 million dollars on the purchase of a jet for the king. I do not know whether that is true, but it sounds a terribly familiar sort of story.
Then we come to the disastrous land reform policies in Zimbabwe. Perhaps the original intention was good and even just, but the handling has been deeply unjust and has contributed to intense food shortage, leading to reduced food yield from less efficient smallholdings. There were no plantings in the autumn, so the worst may be yet to come, compounded by the spread of AIDS from the displacement of farm workers, and compounded again by the politicisation of food distribution by the ZAN U/PF thugs who give food only to those who say they support them politically.
That is a very grim and very urgent scene. Clearly, we have to ask why it is that we reach these humanitarian crises with dreary regularity and how we can change the more fundamental situation to make them less likely to occur. The obvious answers are the ones that noble Lords mentioned time and again: access to decent health facilities and access to at least primary education. I declare an interest. I am involved with the Langalanga Scholarship Fund and the Harambe School Fund, in East Africa, which are trying to bring primary and indeed secondary education to ever more children. I am sure that there are many other small voluntary funded efforts in that direction. However, that is not enough.
The truth is that the development and aid relationship on which we have all relied for decades, and the easy equation of "more aid will need more 1198 development", is now being seriously rethought and requestioned worldwide. The Japanese—the world's biggest donors of aid—are beginning to wonder whether they have been doing the right thing. The USA has long questioned whether volumes of aid and the percentages by which everyone set so much store are actually going to deliver development and eliminate poverty. The work of questioning people such as Hernandez de Soto are coming to the fore. He is arguing that we need to make even the simplest and smallest investment in the tiniest business worthwhile at a micro level—which of course requires guaranteed property rights so that no bully will come along and take what one has saved or set up, as my noble friend Lord Griffiths rightly emphasised, and of course requires good government and a basic structure of the rule of law, without which no development will take place and a great deal of outside finance development will simply be destroyed before our eyes.
I hope that this new thinking can help in a way that traditional aid policy has clearly and obviously failed to do in Africa. I hope that it will be reflected in NePAD. I hope that it will be reflected in the opening of markets. The CAP in Europe is a protectionist disgrace, as the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the noble Lord, Lord Lea, rightly mentioned. If we can mobilise this new thinking which triggers the nature of development—which comes from the bottom up and is not solved solely by outside aid, although that has its targeted tasks to fulfil—and triggers the wealth-creation process that comes through individual incentives, markets and the growth of business and investment, then it just may be possible that we will cease having to meet these unending humanitarian crises, such as the one that now confronts southern Africa. Meanwhile, people are dying in very large numbers, and emergency action is once again required on a colossal scale.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Baroness Amos
My Lords, I thank the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, for introducing what has been a characteristically well-informed and constructive debate. His commitment to these issues is well known in this House.
I shall start, if I may, by saying that I do not entirely agree with noble Lords who have said that the interest in Africa is declining and that the issue is falling off our agenda. We have been working hard to ensure that issues of concern to Africa remain at the top of the G8 agenda, as they will be at the June summit in Evian. We continue to work to bring about peace and security. We saw major improvements in Angola last year. We saw an agreement signed with respect to the DRC in December 2002. That conflict drew in seven other countries in the region. We are now working to put in place a transitional government in the DRC. That will have enormous implications for development on the continent. We are seeing some movement in the peace process in Sudan. On education, we have seen the World Bank put in place a fast-tracking facility to help 1199 some countries to meet the millennium development goals. This type of debate is important in maintaining that interest.
In September 2000, the United Nations Millennium Assembly agreed a set of targets to improve the condition in which the vast majority of the people of this planet live. While in Europe and North America we can spend an average of 75 dollars per day on food and shelter, 1.6 billion people in other parts of the world survive on the equivalent of less than one dollar a day. Life expectancy in 13 countries has fallen below 45 years while it continues to increase above 70 years in developed countries. Some 60 per cent of African children do not have access to even basic education. The AIDS pandemic, which many noble Lords mentioned, is posing a widespread and fundamental threat to human development.
The millennium development goals build on work done over the past 10 years to analyse the priority issues that the world needs to tackle to reduce poverty in the world. They are quantified targets covering education, health, income, water and sanitation and the environment. The deadlines are realistic—although we need the political will to achieve them—and reflect the extensive knowledge that we now have about what works and what does not work in development. The Government's 1997 White Paper, with its focus on the elimination of world poverty, set out our policy absolutely clearly. We talked in that document about the need to achieve what were then called the international development targets. Therefore, the Government have been committed to these issues since we first came into power.
I should like to put the debate in context. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that southern Africa is a diverse region. The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, spoke of the dire situation in Africa. Although two of the countries, Malawi and Mozambique, mentioned by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, are among the 12 poorest countries in the world, another three, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, are among the most prosperous countries in sub-Saharan Africa. As the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, noted, South Africa itself has a GDP three times as big as its 13 neighbours in the Southern African Development Community put together. A few countries have had long periods of political stability, but most have suffered from conflict ranging from civil war to repression and difficult transitions to democracy. Some are shining examples of the progress that can be made; others have not yet completed that journey.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, spoke of the importance of food security, and the noble Lord, Lord Howell, of the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa. More than 14 million people have needed help from the international community. In Zimbabwe, more than half the population is receiving food aid. The UK alone is providing food for almost 1.5 million children there every day. The international response to the crisis has prevented famine and kept thousands alive through the present hungry season in the region. I tell 1200 the noble Lord that we are now confident that we should be able to maintain adequate supplies until the harvest in April.
The combination of poor governance, high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates and less predictable weather patterns could send the region into a downward spiral from which it would be hard to recover. That would obviously damage all our efforts, particularly those of the people in the countries concerned, to improve their lives and to achieve the goals we have for their development.
The noble Lord, Lord Howell, mentioned Malawi and the sale of the grain reserve. It is not true that the IMF told the government to sell their grain reserves. The suggested level of reserves for Malawi is 60,000 tonnes and the reserves had reached 250,000 tonnes, so donors and the government agreed that some of those reserves could be sold. In the process of sale, all the reserves were sold and the anti-corruption bureau has investigated those sales and a further independent audit is under way. The situation went wrong between the agreement made between donors and the government and the sale itself. We have been supporting major input programmes, for example, seeds. That has successfully led to a second winter maize crop.
In addition to the humanitarian crisis, the region faces some specific development challenges. About 36 million people, one-third of the total regional population, live on less than a dollar a day for all their needs. Growth rates are not yet high enough to lift enough people out of poverty and to meet the goal of halving the proportion of people living in abject poverty by 2015.
There is better progress in ensuring universal basic education, but some countries, such as Mozambique, are slipping back. Healthcare services are skeletal and worsening in too many cases and it will be difficult to meet the targets for reducing child mortality and improving maternal health in many of the countries of the region. That point was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover.
As many noble Lords have commented, the agenda is made immeasurably more difficult by HIV/AIDS. Infection rates in southern Africa are the highest in the world: at or above 20 per cent in seven of the countries, and as high as 36 per cent in Botswana. That compares with an average infection rate of less than 9 per cent for all of sub-Saharan Africa, and just over 1 per cent for the world as a whole.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, spoke of the cost of HIV/AIDS for the region. The impact will be immense. Life expectancy is falling rapidly. In Botswana, life expectancy would have been 71 but is now just over 40. If infection rates continue as they are, by 2010 it is likely to be just 29. Unlike most other epidemics, those affected are not the weakest and most infirm but the strongest and those most needed for the economic development of the countries in southern Africa. There will be significant falls in GDP because of the loss of contributions from those who are incapacitated or who have died from HIV/AIDS, and 1201 because of the extra burden that others will need to bear. Progress against all of the millennium development goals will be set back. The ability of those countries to provide basic education is being hit. Last year in Zambia 1,400 teachers died of AIDS. In Zimbabwe, there are now about 3,000 AIDS-related deaths per week, many of those the health workers most needed to tackle the disease.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, is right to say that the number of AIDS orphans is rising. UK Government assistance on HIV/AIDS is taking place in a number of areas. Noble Lords will know that we have worked tirelessly in a number of areas. We have contributed over 200 million dollars over five years to the global health fund. Part of our bilateral agreements with countries like Uganda, South Africa and Mozambique includes raising awareness and working with the leadership on HIV/AIDS issues. In Uganda prevalence rates have been brought down from 14 per cent to 8 per cent. We are working hard to improve the health sector and to build capacity which is absolutely critical if drugs like anti-retrovirals, for example, are to work. We are contributing to work to find a vaccine through the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development chaired a working party that looked at access to medicines last year. We are now seeking support from our G8 and other colleagues to take recommendations forward on that work. We are also working in the area of reproductive health and sexually transmitted diseases. Until we move from a humanitarian to a bilateral programme in Angola we shall not be conducting specific work on HIV/AIDS although we contribute through international mechanisms. The noble Lord, Lord Chan, is absolutely right about the link between education and health. Uganda has nearly trebled the number of children in primary schools and it is one of the countries that has managed to bring down the infection rate of HIV/AIDS.
Enrolment in Malawi has increased by 70 per cent and DfID has doubled its spending on basic education, health and water in Africa since 1997. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chan, about the importance of partnership and of sharing a model of good practice.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, asked about our policies. The FCO, DfID and the British Council have a joint management policy to assist locally engaged members of staff affected by HIV/AIDS. I shall happily write to the noble Lord with more details of that policy. However, it does not extend to our partner organisations.
This year, we shall be developing an Africa-wide strategy on HIV/AIDS: focusing on the prevention of new infections with emphasis on young people, high risk groups and mother-to-child transmission; mitigating impact, treatment and care, especially for orphans and vulnerable children; and promoting political advocacy and strategies for poor governance in countries in conflict.
1202 The scale of such challenges could lead to despair, but we can reverse the downward trend: we can cut poverty; we can increase life expectancy; and we can rebuild communities. To do that we must be strategic in our approach. We must back the efforts of the countries themselves in terms of sustainable development, we must learn from past experience, and we must be prepared for long-term engagement. Our starting point is the universal commitment to the MDGs, but we also recognise the crucial role of the state and the private sector in promoting social and economic development, as well as the importance of good political and economic governance.
The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford spoke about aid effectiveness. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has worked tirelessly to improve the effectiveness of our aid and has worked with others on a clear reform agenda in regard to aid effectiveness. More effective use of aid means moving away from funding a proliferation of projects to backing poverty reduction strategies drawn up by developing countries themselves.
Reform agendas drawn up locally are more successful than those imposed from outside. We need to work with those governments committed to reform and committed to putting money into social sectors like health and education. We look more at building the capacity of local institutions to deliver services and to respond to the needs of the poor. That means putting finances directly into government budgets so helping to fund rapid improvements in health, education, water and other services that contribute to poverty reduction. We are working on developing long-term development partnerships in a number of countries in Africa and working to develop multi-donor facilities in others.
The noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, spoke of the need to encourage growth. I agree with him about the need for macro-economic stability, retention of savings in country and other issues, including clearer definitions of property rights and enforcement of contracts, all of which are about creating the right kind of enabling environment to attract investment.
My noble friend Lord Desai compared development in Asia, where MDGs are likely to be met, with Africa where in many areas development is going backwards. My noble friend touched on issues of corruption and conflict in an area where 20 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa's population live in countries where there is conflict or where conflict is ending. He also mentioned the importance of rural development and made a powerful argument for reform of the EU common agricultural policy. Noble Lords will be aware that the UK has been at the forefront of calls for the reform of the common agricultural policy.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, the right reverend Prelate, the noble Lord, Lord Griffiths, the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, and my noble friend Lady Whitaker all mentioned the importance of trade which is an essential building block for development. It must be a key engine of growth for developing countries, 1203 with agricultural trade of central importance. The Government's objective in Doha, and through the WTO, is to secure significant liberalisation of trade in agriculture. Halving protectionist measures by both developed and developing countries could result in gains for developing countries of 150 billion dollars per year. That is three times present levels of aid.
Conditionality was raised by the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and my noble friend Lord Lea. Conditionality in the form of "one-size-fits-all" prescriptions imposed on developing countries is gone from our agenda. Our focus is on developing relationships between donors and African countries based on mutual accountability. But conditions agreed between us that reflect the international consensus on what works in development are still crucial. They allow donors to account for their contributions; they allow people in developing countries to hold their own governments to account in tackling poverty; and they hold developing country governments accountable for their own commitment to reform. At the core of NePAD—the New Partnership for Africa's Development—is the concept of peer review. I accept that NePAD requires greater participation. That is something I am sure will grow as the NePAD concept becomes known across the continent. I shall write to my noble friend Lady Whitaker on the Cotonou Agreement as time is short.
Another part of our strategy concerns the G8 Africa Action Plan. The G8 plan sets out specific G8 actions in a number of areas which will help Africa's development. At the next G8 summit in France—I assure my noble friend Lord Lea that President Chirac has made Africa a priority—we shall be considering water, transparency and access to medicines as well as monitoring implementation of the action plan. Noble Lords will wish to know that the UK is the only G8 country to have published a national action plan setting out the steps we intend to take to meet our commitments in the Africa action plan.
A number of noble Lords mentioned the recent proposal by the Chancellor and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development for an international finance facility. The aim of the proposal is to provide additional financing to help to meet the millennium development goals. It would seek to raise the amount of development assistance from just over 50 billion dollars a year today to 100 billion dollars a year in the years to 2015 by establishing a bond facility financed by long-term commitments of aid. The Government are discussing that proposal with other donors because we need to bring others on board.
The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and my noble friend Lord Sawyer mentioned South Africa. The stark inequality that is apartheid's legacy has left us with two South Africas. One has levels of poverty on a par with the poorest African countries; the other has levels of prosperity the envy of developed countries. Skills and sophisticated organisational management will be central to South Africa's efforts to bridge that divide. Continued economic competitiveness is vital as South African businesses bring in previously excluded 1204 communities. Effective public administration is essential in refocusing South Africa's public services to reach the majority of people excluded in the past. I welcome the work that Investors In People is doing to contribute to that process. I say to my noble friend that I worked with the South African Department of Labour in 1995 on issues of employment equity which also links in to the issues related to Investors In People.
Before I conclude I say a few brief words on the heavily indebted poor countries initiative. I agree that donors and the international financial institutions need to look further at debt sustainability. It is clear that some beneficiary countries of HIPC have already been hit by falling commodity prices pushing them back into unsustainable levels of debt. I also agree that we must maintain the link between debt relief and the millennium development goals. The UK Government will again take a leading role in pressing for an outcome that delivers benefits for poor countries. At last year's G8 meeting, an additional 1 billion dollars was agreed to help those countries reaching HIPC completion point with unsustainable levels of debt.
In conclusion, the millennium development goals agreed by the entire international community two years ago give us a positive agenda which all governments are accountable for. Southern Africa faces huge challenges in meeting these goals, not least because of the levels of HIV/AIDS in he region. But it also has huge resources and, in many of the countries, strong leadership. The Government, along with other donors, have developed a strategic, long-term approach to support this and other regions. With that support, I believe that southern Africa could make real progress in cutting poverty, increasing growth and turning around the prospects for poor communities in their countries. Progress in southern Africa would boost prospects for all of Africa and help to push Africa back on track towards meeting the millennium development goals—something that we should all like to see made a reality.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ The Earl of Sandwich
My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on achieving the target of a 20-minute speech as we have covered an enormous range of issues in the debate. I apologise for raising such a wide question, but it at least elicited distinguished contributions from all noble Lords who spoke. I sincerely thank everyone who took part in the debate.
It has not been an entirely serious debate. I saw the spectre of the late Lord Bauer sitting somewhere near the noble Lord, Lord Desai. I thought that he might have said, "I told you so", and made the debate even more lively than it was. It had nice moments. For instance, the noble Lord, Lord Lea, in the context of the recent EU summit, gave us a new vision of the Anglo-French partnership which we all look forward to seeing back on track.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, always brings us down to earth and reminds us that there are real people involved and seriously large numbers of deaths due to 1205 AIDS and other emergencies. On that note, I again thank everyone who has taken part in the debate. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.