Thursday, 12 February 2004

Questions (129, 130)

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

126 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the procedures that have been put in place to ensure that international aid is reaching those for whom it was intended on the African continent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4474/04]

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Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

127 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has satisfied himself that all international aid is now reaching its intended targets throughout Africa with reference to the need to eliminate interference from corrupt or illegal organisations or regimes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4475/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 127 together.

Issues at the heart of effective delivery of assistance to poor people in least developed countries include clear objectives, a well-articulated strategy for delivery and good oversight and accountability.

As the Deputy will be aware, the central objectives of the Irish programme of development co-operation continue to be the reduction of poverty and the promotion of sustainable development. Meeting the basic human needs of some of the poorest people in the world and improving their access to food, water, health services, sanitation, education and employment are key goals of the bilateral development programme, of our interaction with multilateral institutions and of our engagement with and through NGOs.

The main geographical focus of the bilateral programme is sub-Saharan Africa, the poorest region in the world. Within the framework of three-year country strategy papers, CSPs, Development Co-operation Ireland provides long-term development assistance to seven programme countries, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Uganda and Zambia, as well as South Africa. In line with other donors, we operate in partnership with the Governments of these countries and agree our strategies with them to ensure that our interventions respond effectively to their development needs. We help to build up the capacity of these Governments to manage their own affairs, which in turn strengthens their sense of ownership of the whole development process.

This more integrated and harmonised approach, focused on assisting poor countries to do things for themselves, is a major advance on the previous project-type engagement and has delivered positive and substantive results.

An agreed strategy also directs our engagement with the UN agencies. Our relationship with the larger Irish NGOs is underpinned by a multi-annual programme scheme, MAPS, while in the programme countries all of our country strategies outline the nature of our relationship with local non-government organisations.

A key issue, when one is operating in an environment of dire poverty and the corruption usually associated with it, is to have robust processes for oversight and accountability. The Development Co-operation Ireland programme provides this through a rigorous system of evaluation, monitoring and audit. All accounts and expenditure are audited. There is a strong, comprehensive monitoring process, which acts as a quality control on the programme. The evaluation approach allows for a forensic examination of interventions to measure effectiveness and identify lessons learned. These systems are reviewed regularly and updated as necessary.