HC Deb 22 March 2001 vol 365 cc292-3W
Mr. McFall

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has for providing development assistance to Ethiopia; and if she will make a statement.[155072]

Clare Short

Since the signature by Ethiopia and Eritrea of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in June 2000, we have been reviewing our development relationship with Ethiopia. As part of this process, we held a seminar to discuss papers commissioned from academia and civil society to help update our understanding of current politics, governance and civil society; the economy; poverty; and food security.

Last November I visited Addis Ababa and discussed these issues with I prime Minister Meles Zenawi. We informed him that we intended to focus as a first priority on food security, and undertook to consider whether we could contribute to the development of the private sector in Ethiopia.

Effective support to help reduce poverty in Ethiopia will depend on continuing peace and stability and the full and speedy implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in Algiers last December We have been encouraged by recent progress. We have supported the peace process through the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) with a contribution of £535,000 for an emergency survey of mines and unexploded ordnance undertaken by the UN Mines Advisory Service. We are also supporting UNMEE through our assessed contribution to peacekeeping operations.

The overall objective of our assistance will be to support the Government of Ethiopia's Poverty Reduction Strategy. In food security, we will work for long-term sustainable improvements and reduced vulnerability to cyclical drought. We will support the provision of financial assistance through the World Bank, IMF and European Commission. We will also provide technical assistance to strengthen the World Bank's work with the Government on the 2001 Public Expenditure Review and on Food Security, and plan to do so on the Poverty Reduction Strategy process. We are also considering technical support in food security and education to the European Commission.

We also envisage providing support for Food Security (including rural roads). In the private sector we will explore options for facilitating Ethiopia's effective engagement in international markets and ways in which the enabling environment for private investment can be improved. We plan to help strengthen district level road maintenance capacity. We are investigating how to support the Government's poverty monitoring capacity. Other possible areas of intervention include improved governance and support for a more effective civil society.

The implications of HIV/AIDS for Ethiopia's development will be considered throughout the programme. We plan to support the International Partnership Against AIDS in Africa, which is sponsored by UNAIDS.

We will continue to provide direct humanitarian relief and food aid where there is a clear need and where we are well placed to help.

On current plans we expect to spend up to £30 million over the next three years: these figures are indicative and subject to adjustment in the light of developments.

Forward to