HC Deb 20 May 1998 vol 312 cc404-5W
Sir Alastair Goodlad

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what aid programmes her Department is currently supporting in Bangladesh and at what cost; and what was the comparable figure for 1997–98. [42233]

Clare Short

The Department for International Development has a substantial programme in Bangladesh, offering support for the Government of Bangladesh's policy of promoting growth alongside poverty reduction. The key themes of our aid strategy are poverty reduction and support for good government and institutional development. The programme works with both Government and non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners to address these goals, and also helps indirectly through contributions to the programmes of the European Commission and other multilateral institutions.

Spending statistics for the 1997–98 year are not yet finalised, but are expected to be somewhat lower than the £44.39 million spent in 1996–97 due to delay in implementing new projects. From 1998–99, we hope to see an increase in the spending levels of recent years. More than half of the current programme is spent on direct poverty assistance, with projects in health and education, micro-credit, employment generation, and food production. Other projects target institutional strengthening, infrastructure development, and public sector reform. Examples of significant current projects include: Agricultural Services Support Project: £5.5m for strengthening Government agricultural extension work. INTERFISH, a £5.6m project with the NGO CARE, promoting fish production in rice fields. An £11.6m contribution to micro-credit and social development programmes of the national NGO, Proshika; and a £9.2m contribution to similar programmes of BRAC. £8m support for non-formal primary education programme again with BRAC, working with poor children, particularly girls. £20.6m support for the Government of Bangladesh Fourth Population and Health Project. Bridge improvement project £.15.6m. Reforms in Budget and Expenditure Control, £9.8m helping the development of improved Government of Bangladesh systems for financial management.

Key elements of current work on new projects include strengthening Government of Bangladesh primary education services, and supporting a new National Health and Population Strategy.