HC Deb 02 November 2000 vol 355 cc587-8W
Mr. Win Griffiths

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will list the major disasters for which her Department has provided(a) emergency aid and (b) redevelopment support over the last 10 years, indicating the effectiveness of the support given in each case. [135395]

Mr. Foulkes

Over the last 10 years, this Department (and its predecessor) has provided emergency aid in a large number of major disasters and it would take a long time to retrieve the details requested. However, since 1997 this Department has provided humanitarian assistance on more than 80 occasions in over 60 countries. During 2000, DFID has provided speedy and appropriate relief to a number of disasters, including floods in West Bengal, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia, a hurricane in Belize, typhoon and tidal wave in North Korea and droughts in Asia and East Africa. We have also continued to provide humanitarian assistance to people affected by conflict in many countries, such as Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Where disasters occur frequently or result in prolonged crises, we are increasingly promoting preparedness and mitigation measures as part of longer-term development programmes. This includes analysing common hazards and their impact on poor people, and assessing the effect of recurrent crises on achieving the targets of sustainable international development.

We are working to strengthen the international humanitarian system. For example, we are working with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to improve their preparedness and response to disasters, specifically in poor countries. We are supplying the United Nations organisations such as the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children Fund, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to improve the speed and effectiveness of their responses. We are encouraging the international non-governmental organisations to strengthen standards of assistance for those affected by disasters.

We are working to ensure that the assistance we provide is as effective as possible. To this end it is always based on proper assessment of needs and delivery supervised to prevent the diversion of goods away from those in most need. We only fund reputable agencies or NGOs which are already established in the disaster-affected country or have experienced local partners. In addition, we are working in partnership with NGOs to agree minimum standards of assistance.