HC Deb 25 January 2000 vol 343 cc161-2W
Mr. Andrew George

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment she has made of the impact of conservation projects funded or partly funded by her Department on indigenous local peoples living within the area of the projects. [105289]

Clare Short

[holding answer 24 January 2000]: In my reply to the hon. Member of 12 January 2000, Official Report, column 183W, I mentioned the major global evaluation study commissioned by DFID of British bilateral and joint-funded project support for environmental improvement and protection, and made specific reference to projects in Kenya and Tanzania.

The study also assessed DFID-funded projects for environmental protection and management in India, China and Brazil, including their impact on local people. The study reviewed 19 projects in India and found that all except two will have positive environmental impacts. Social impact has been varied. While many achieved environmental improvements benefiting local people, negative social impacts associated with resettlement and environmental health were noted in two projects.

In China, 16 projects were reviewed. It has been difficult to address social issues and identify social impacts in these projects given the reluctance of the Chinese authorities to support inputs which could be confused with political interference. Local people have benefited from the environmental improvements achieved by several of the projects but involuntary resettlement posed 'a potentially serious problem' in at least one project.

In Brazil, the key focus has been on environmental protection in Amazonia. All projects reviewed were found to have been at least moderately effective, with objectives complete or largely achieved in three projects out of the sample of six. Three of the projects were environmental research projects and two aimed to strengthen scientific capacity. As a result, immediate social impacts, positive or negative, were limited.