HC Deb 16 June 2003 vol 407 cc4-5W
Mr. Colman

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what financial assistance the Department is providing to projects to help widows in(a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq, (c) Nigeria and (d) Angola. [118648]

Hilary Benn

DFID supports a number of projects in Afghanistan, Iraq and Nigeria to assist women; these are detailed as follows. DFID also provides unearmarked core funding to UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), which will be —3.6 million in 2003. This supports a partnership set out in an Institutional Strategy Paper agreed with UNIFEM in 1999. Women's human rights are central to all UNIFEM's programmes.

In Afghanistan DFID's assistance strategy targets vulnerable people, particularly women, who are in need of direct assistance. The World Food Programme, which DFID has funded as part of the strategy, runs employment projects solely for vulnerable women. These projects, such as bakery co-operatives and small farms, are run in both urban and rural areas. DFID provided —4.7 million to WFP in 2002–03.

This year DFID is also providing support to other projects that are targeted at vulnerable women; —200,000 to a micro-finance initiative run in Afghanistan by the Bangladeshi Rural Advancement Committee, and —1 million to an Aga Khan Network project for improving livelihood opportunities in Badakhshan province. This assistance is targeted at vulnerable women in general, rather than specifically at widows. In Iraq, DFID has provided —819,000 to the NGO 4RS since 1999 for their work with widows and vulnerable households headed by women. Their work includes income generation projects in the Kirkuk area of northern Iraq and in particular the Anfal widows. In addition DFID has provided —105,673 to 4RS for their work to assist displaced unsupported women in northern Iraq during the recent conflict.

In Nigeria, DFID has provided —5,000 during the last six months to train 1,000 widows through the Access to Justice programme operating in Enugu state. A further 1,000 widows will receive training during the coming six months at a cost of —3,700.

In Angola, DFID has no projects directly aimed at helping widows, but our —8 million Angola country programme focuses on reducing poverty for all Angolans and we are increasingly working with the Government of Angola to help it meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Mr. Colman

To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development what assistance the Department is providing(a) directly, (b) through its partner organisations and (c) through NGOs to include widows in the future development of institutions and local government in (i) Afghanistan, (ii) Iraq, (iii) Nigeria and (iv) Angola. [118649]

Hilary Benn

DFID's longer-term development work on institutional and governmental reform and capacity building in Afghanistan focuses on reform of the institutions for the benefit of all poor or disadvantaged people, especially women, but not specific groups such as widows.

The Government is committed to including women in the reconstruction of Iraq, in line with UN Resolution 1325. DFID and other Departments are talking to a range of women's groups within and outside Iraq to ensure women are well represented in planning and reconstruction issues at all levels, and that they play a full role in shaping the new Iraq.

In Nigeria the Access to Justice programme training for widows is aimed at empowering widows to challenge those who persist in harmful and illegal practices associated with widowhood.

In Angola DFID's country programme focuses on improving governance and reducing poverty for all Angolans.