Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.

Bernard J. Durkan


45 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans or intentions, through the EU or UN, to address the issue of world hunger and poverty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15036/02]

In September 2000, the UN Millennium Summit endorsed the UN Millennium Development Goals. The first of the goals commits the international community to reducing by half, by 2015, the number of people, currently 1.2 billion, living on less than $1 per day and reduce by half the proportion of people living in hunger.

Since the UN Millennium Summit the UN system has focused on how to mobilise the finance necessary to meet the goals. The International Conference on Financing for Development which was held in Mexico in April 2002 examined all possible sources of development finance includ ing domestic savings, trade flows, foreign direct investment, Overseas Development Assistance and debt relief. At the conference the EU announced that the member states would collectively increase EU ODA by €7 billion per year by 2006 while the US indicated it would increase ODA by $5 billion per year.
The absolute priority of Ireland's programme of development assistance, as underlined in the recommendation of the Review Committee on Ireland Aid, which the Government has accepted, is to reduce poverty, inequality and exclusion in developing countries. Both at the UN and in the EU the Government is actively supporting global efforts to reduce poverty and hunger and to meet the Millennium Development Goals. In 2002 our funding of key UN agencies dealing with poverty and hunger increased to €38 million. The EU and its member states are collectively the world's largest donor of development assistance, funding over 50% of global ODA.
Global hunger is now estimated as affecting 830 million people world-wide. The particular scale of the problem in Africa makes this a priority concern for Ireland Aid. We have co-operated closely with our EU partners and with other major multilateral donors in the UN system, such as the WFP, to tackle hunger on the continent. Ireland Aid has been actively involved in providing emergency relief to Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Angola and Sierra Leone. In 2001, Ireland Aid provided almost €14 million to fund emergency relief and rehabilitation programmes for Africa.
The World Food Programme, WFP, has warned of a major food crisis facing Southern Africa, where up to 13 million people in six southern African countries risk starvation. WFP has described this as the worst humanitarian disaster in the region for a decade. Ireland Aid has allocated €1.2 million so far this year specifically to help the people in that region.
At EU level the meeting of EU Development Ministers in May 2002 adopted, at Ireland's initiative, a declaration which underlined the EU's concern at the food crisis in southern Africa, and called on major international donors to accelerate their response. Ireland has also been actively involved in efforts to improve the effectiveness of the EU's food aid and food security policy, a key element of the Union's reaction to famines and food crises. The European Commission has proposed a number of key recommendations which should help make EU food aid more effective and responsive.
At UN level, the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the Plan of Action, adopted at the World Food Summit in 1996, set out the way towards reducing the number of people living in hunger. Ireland chaired the Committee on Food Security at the recent follow-up conference to the World Food Summit, which took place in Rome between 10-13 June 2002. This conference reviewed progress towards meeting the WFS tar get and renewed the global commitment at political level to the task of eliminating hunger and malnutrition in Africa.