HC Deb 02 July 2003 vol 408 cc302-4W
Dr. Tonge

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what percentage of statistics used by the Department preceding overseas aid projects were in time for their effective use in(a) project design and (b) project evaluation, for the years 2000 to 2003. [122711]

Hillary Benn

DFID's Country Plans set out our overall strategy for programme and project interventions in a country. These plans focus on how we can support our partner countries poverty reduction plans, drawing on the available statistics.

Accurate data are vital to measure progress in reducing poverty, including progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. In most poor countries, collecting reliable data for indicators such as primary school enrolment or births and deaths is a major challenge. Often data are simply not available, or they may be of a variable quality due to information gaps as a result of inefficient data collection practices. There may also be a long delay in the production of country data which can hamper developing countries' government's ability to plan and implement effective policies. In countries affected by conflict, systems for collecting data may have ceased to function at all.

DFID has been providing technical and financial support to a number of multilateral statistical initiatives, such as the Partnership In Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) initiative, to help build the capacity in developing countries to collect and use statistical data. Within DFID's country assistance planning system, we support our partner countries' own poverty reduction strategies to help achieve sustainable poverty reduction. DFID's Country Assistance Plans contain a statistical annex which is revised every year. We are committed to using locally available country data whenever possible, supplemented by data from international sources such as the World Bank and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to monitor progress against the country plans. This enables DFID to strengthen country statistical systems as well as improving data for measuring progress against our poverty reduction targets.

Dr. Tonge

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development how much the Department has spent on the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century; what the Department's targets were for the partnership in the years(a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03; and how far these have been met. [122712]

Hilary Benn

The total spent on supporting the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) is £1.57 million.

The UK is one of several donors providing support, partly by means of contributing to its overall budget. As a consequence, DFID did not set specific targets for what our support is expected to achieve in each separate year.

The following sets out the PAR1S21 targets over the three years as a whole, together with an indication how far they have been met. These are largely based on the results of a very positive recent evaluation, which we expect to be published shortly on the PARIS21 websiteatwww.paris21.org. Improved co-ordination, motivation and resources for statistical capacity building. Demand for improved information systems, and readiness to support them, has increased significantly in multilateral institutions and in many governments. To enable the Secretariat to perform its support role effectively (e.g. facilitation of national, regional and global activities and facilitation of the task team activities) The UK was a major contributor to the costs of the Secretariat, whose performance has been rated highly. Dissemination of best practice and maintenance of web-site—There has been some improved information exchange between donors at country level, and between UN agencies. PARIS21 is judged to have helped spread awareness among low-income countries' governments. Facilitation of development of governance indicators and indicators of means of implementation—Progress was always known to be difficult to achieve in this area. However, a task team has now been established to manage a large project to take this work forward.

Based on the evidence from the recent evaluation DFID will consider whether we should continue to support PARIS21 and if so, how best to do so.