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Overseas Development Aid.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 23 November 2006

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Questions (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11)

Ivor Callely


6 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the programmes funded by Irish Development Aid in Mozambique, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia; the progress of the various programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39317/06]

View answer

Oral answers (74 contributions) (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The countries outlined by the Deputy are termed "programme countries" and are thus a particular focus for the Government's aid programme, Irish Aid. The objectives of the aid programme in each programme country are poverty reduction and sustainable development. We address fundamental human needs such as food security, basic education, primary health care and safe water supplies. We also emphasise capacity-building and good governance.

Ireland delivers its aid in those programme countries through a variety of channels including government systems, direct implementation, non-governmental organisations, NGOs, and the multilateral system, including UN agencies.

Irish Aid's total funding to Mozambique in 2006 will amount to approximately €40 million. Irish Aid assists in the implementation of the national poverty reduction plan. Aid is focused on sectors including health, education, agriculture, HIV-AIDS and good governance. Irish Aid also works closely with the Clinton Foundation and the Government of Mozambique to deliver essential life-saving drugs to sufferers of AIDS.

In Uganda, our aid programme funds the Ugandan Government's poverty eradication action plan, which is the key framework within which international donors deliver assistance. Support is concentrated on the areas of governance, health, HIV-AIDS and education. In 2006, support of €4 million has been provided to Irish NGOs such as Concern, GOAL and Trócaire. Funding is also provided to the United Nations World Food Programme, WFP, and Oxfam for emergency operations in northern Uganda. Overall, assistance to Uganda will amount to approximately €36 million in 2006.

Ireland's aid to Ethiopia in 2006 will amount to approximately €35 million. The aid is spent primarily on addressing the needs of the rural poor, for example, by supporting the provision of basic health care at village level, combating the spread of HIV-AIDS, funding teacher-training and strengthening the public service. The social safety nets programme, funded and originated by Ireland, is a UN-monitored fund that provides the poorest Ethiopians with cash or food in exchange for labour. It is keeping approximately 7 million Ethiopians from falling into dire poverty and starvation.

Tanzania's national poverty reduction strategy provides the framework for Ireland's support to the country. The Irish Aid programme of approximately €27 million in 2006 provides support regarding education, health, HIV-AIDS, agriculture and governance.

Additional information not given on the floor of the House.

Approximately €20 million was allocated for Ireland's aid to Zambia in 2006. The focus of the programme is on basic needs and poverty reduction through support for health, education, water and sanitation, and governance, with particular emphasis on HIV-AIDS. Ireland also works in Zambia's Northern Province meeting the basic water needs of thousands of families in remote areas. In 2006, Irish funding has enabled the provision of safe drinking water and improved sanitation to over 80,000 people.

Irish Aid is having a definite, positive and sustained impact in the areas where we work. In Mozambique, with Irish Aid assistance, from 2004 to 2005, 83 clinics were built and over 250,000 people received HIV testing and counselling services. With Ireland's support, immunisation rates against childhood diseases in Uganda now stand at 84% for the entire country. Ireland's support to the very poor Tigray region of Ethiopia in 2006 led to the construction of over 500 wells, 100 water points and 145 primary schools.

A detailed account of all Irish Aid's programmes, projects and results, as well as an analysis of funding, is available in the annual reports, which are placed in the Oireachtas Library.

While there has been a very welcome increase in the allocation for this year, in view of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report, which uncovered 243 reports of category A findings, that is, weaknesses in accounting procedures and ways in which funds were spent, what steps is the Department taking to address the issues raised? Since Irish Aid is undergoing decentralisation and involved in disputes, and the Department lacks enough staff to administer the increased aid, what steps is the Minister taking to address the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General's report, the problems in Irish Aid, and the staffing of his Department?

I remind the House that the rules demand that supplementary questions and answers be limited to one minute.

I apologise.

I would like to answer the very pertinent questions posed by the Deputy. My Department welcomes the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General. It is the first time in the 30-year history of the Irish Aid programme that the Comptroller and Auditor General has seen fit to investigate how this funding is spent. In response to his report, I made immediate representations, along with the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, for additional staff to cover our day-to-day needs in terms of audit, evaluation and monitoring of the dispersal of moneys under the aid programme. We were given an immediate positive response from the Minister in the form of 20 additional staff, 14 of whom have already been hired and are now deployed in the task of monitoring and evaluating the spending programme.

The programme is heavily audited. We are one of the few Departments with an internal audit committee composed entirely of external nominees rather than departmental officials. It is something of which we are proud. It is the most robust and independent internal audit committee in the entire Civil Service.

We are satisfied with the progress made to date on decentralisation. Some 69% of our staff complement have already indicated their wish to move to Limerick. We will send an advance party there in May to help the transition. The senior management team is mostly in place and will be fully in place before Christmas. I will not underestimate the challenges we face in regard to decentralisation. There are ongoing problems in respect of the professional technical grades, that is, the development specialists. Few of the more senior specialists have opted to go to Limerick because of a well publicised legal issue. That issue is before the courts in Europe. I assure Deputies that at the most senior level within my Department and in the Department of Finance, we are at an advanced point of negotiation to clear up this particular imbroglio, which must be resolved before staff can be fully transferred to Limerick.

The Minister of State used the term "good governance" in his reply. Is this a reference to the Wolfowitz definition through the World Bank, that is, an imposed accountability for micro-economic plans, or is he talking about good governance as it might relate to the social, economic and historical realities of the countries about which he has spoken? Is his Department open to holding a public seminar on the meaning of the concept of good governance so that it is no longer interpreted, as it already is by many receiving countries, as a further imposition?

I entirely agree with the spirit of the question posed by Deputy Michael D. Higgins. For Irish Aid, the definition of governance is far wider than the one he suggests is applied by the World Bank. The latter is bound to use such a definition because it is an economic institution.

It is a limited perspective.

As an agency that disperses development co-operation funding, we take a much different approach. It is a broad definition which encompasses the human capacity of the countries in which we operate to manage themselves, in particular their public finances and the means of developing their expertise at managing those finances. We spend some €70 million each year on governance measures across our various programme countries. Much of this spend is concentrated on enhancing the capability and capacity of the countries to manage themselves, by empowering them to impose sophisticated systems for the audit, monitoring and evaluation of their own public spending.

In many of these countries, unfortunately, because the record-keeping is in a poor state, it is often extremely difficult to evaluate retrospectively how our money was spent and whether value for money was achieved. It is a significant issue and we have been attempting to tackle it for some time. Many years ago in Lesotho, for instance, we funded an accountancy training college because that country had no accountants in its public service at that time.

Does the Minister of State's definition of good governance include indigenous decision-making systems such as village systems? I am more interested in that than in accounting systems.

In some of our programme countries, traditional and indigenous systems of leadership are in place which are important in terms of influencing people, whether in regard to AIDS prevention, democratic government or other issues. We offer assistance where such systems are in place; we work with the environment we find.

Does the Minister of State agree that Self Help is doing outstanding work in Uganda, Ethiopia and elsewhere? I assume this is the reason that he initially accepted the organisation into the multiannual funding programme. Will he explain why its funding has now been cut?

Its funding has not been cut.

It is dissatisfied with the drip-fed funding it is receiving. Furthermore, Self Help claims it is being bullied by the IFA. Extremely serious allegations have been made, including in regard to the interception of e-mails. Is the Minister of State aware of these allegations and has he spoken to the IFA about them? Will he renew the funding for this organisation?

The Department is extremely satisfied with the nature and focus of the programmes and projects run by Self Help in Africa. As I publicly stated myself and through my officials, however, we are dissatisfied with the internal warring feud that is ongoing for almost a year within its board in Ireland and between the chief executive officer and certain members of the board. This is not something that is happening behind closed doors; it has been reported in the newspapers. This causes Irish Aid to pause and be careful. I am frequently told in this House that we must have effective systems of evaluation and monitoring so that we can be sure the money we dispense is spent effectively. That is our primary concern. Anybody who would ignore such a situation in a charity predominantly funded by Irish taxpayers through Irish Aid would be accused of negligence.

Self Help was included in our first three-year multiannual programme scheme, MAPS 1. The development of the second multiannual programme scheme, MAPS 2, is nearing completion but no organisations have yet qualified and been accepted for it. Several are currently seeking to meet the criteria to graduate to MAPS 2. This is a five-year multiannual programme in keeping with the Green Paper's commitment to extend more predictability to our partners.

I have written to the board and chief executive officer of Self Help to indicate that we cannot continue discussions in regard to its application to be part of MAPS 2 while this particular situation is ongoing. Our concerns relate to the corporate governance of Self Help in Ireland rather than to its work in Africa, where its programmes are well run and well evaluated.

The Minister of State has talked it out nicely but I asked a specific question. Has he spoken to the IFA about this?

I apologise, I intended to answer that question. I have not spoken to the IFA, nor did I instruct my officials to do so. However, my officials were contacted by representatives of the IFA who expressed their concern about the situation in Self Help. My officials were mindful of the fact that the basis for Self Help's funding is essentially founded on the support of the IFA throughout the State. It is a charity that is rooted in rural areas,

Self Help is being bullied by the IFA.

My officials were extremely concerned that a major sponsor of a charity should withdraws its support. That should cause alarm bells to ring. They would have been neglectful of their duty if they did not speak to the IFA about this matter.

I call Deputy Finian McGrath. The Minister of State has gone way over time.

In a recent edition of Village, Mr. Frank Connolly asserted in the headline of an article that IFA officials are bullying my officials. This is absolutely not the case. The IFA has behaved in a proper manner in regard to all these matters. I reject such an insinuation, particularly by Mr. Connolly——

I ask the Minister of State to abide by Standing Orders.

——whom I find to be a highly inaccurate journalist in my personal dealings with him.

Parliamentary Question No. 6 was tabled by Deputy Calleley, a former Minister of State, who has not even bothered to turn up in the Chamber to hear the reply. Does the Minister of State agree his absence shows disrespect to the House?

The Minister of State referred to €40 million for health, education, agriculture and AIDS issues. Is that amount divided among the five named countries?

Will the moneys allocated for teacher training and education be put into primary or second level education? If there is a focus on education, will the priority be on early intervention and pre-school education to ensure those people concerned in the programme countries will have an opportunity to break out of poverty?

I will not answer the Deputy's first question. It is just casting aspersions on a colleague who may be a rival of the Deputy's.

I would expect more from a former Minister of State.

He is busy working in his constituency.

He is probably stuck in traffic.

The €40 million was the total budget for Mozambique.

To date, the emphasis has been on primary education and giving those in the programme countries an opportunity to attend school. The results so far have been good, particularly in Uganda. Moneys are mainly spent on schools and teacher training. A pressing issue in some of the programme countries, which have done well in primary education enrolment, is secondary school provision. For example, when I visited Lesotho with President McAleese, its Minister for Education pointed out funding needs were becoming acute at second level. As free primary education had been extended to all children, they were incurring more financial pressure as children moved on to second level education. We are opening up funding for second level education provision. Our prime purpose, however, will remain with primary education.

Arthur Morgan


7 Mr. Morgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the percentage of the projected GNP for 2007 the overseas development aid figure contained in the Estimates amounts to. [39469/06]

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Dinny McGinley


31 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of financial resources to be devoted to Irish Aid in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39477/06]

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Richard Bruton


36 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the changes in spending priorities for Irish Aid in 2007, as compared to 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39478/06]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 7, 31 and 36 together.

The Government has provided a total allocation of €728 million in Vote 29, international co-operation, for 2007. A further €85 million will be allocated to overseas development through other Departments, bringing the total allocation in 2007 to €813 million. This represents an increase of €128 million on the 2006 level of funding in Vote 29.

This allocation, the highest in the history of the programme, will meet the Government's interim target of spending 0.5% of GNP on overseas development aid. It emphasises our commitment to the developing world and ensures Ireland will continue to be one of the most generous donors on a per capita basis when compared to its EU partners and other OECD countries. It also demonstrates that Ireland is well on track to fulfilling our commitment to meet the UN target of 0.7% of GNP by 2012. The increased funding will enable us to deliver on the commitments contained in the recently published White Paper on Irish Aid.

Various areas will be scaled up. The emergency and humanitarian assistance budget line will be increased by 50% from €60 million to €90 million. This will substantially enhance our level of response to worldwide humanitarian emergencies. Investment will continue in the rapid response initiative, which will provide a uniquely Irish contribution to enhancing the international humanitarian system in 2007. In line with the overall increase in the Vote, significant increases are planned in the allocation to Irish and international NGOs, expected to be over €100 million in 2007. These increases reflect the importance we attach to the work of our partner NGOs and the way their work complements the Irish Aid programme.

One key priority for 2007 will be to increase and enhance public information activities and to strengthen public ownership and awareness of the work of Irish Aid. In 2007, an information centre will be established in Dublin city, where members of the public can access information available on volunteering opportunities and development issues more generally. This shopfront will also showcase the Government's overseas aid programme and engage in other public information activities for the aid programme. The Government will continue its support for combating HIV-AIDS and other communicable diseases in the developing world, with plans to spend at least €100 million next year. This is in line with the commitment the Taoiseach gave in New York when the new timeframe of 2012 was set.

The Estimates show significant increases are planned in contributions to the UN and other development agencies. Over the next several weeks, I will hold a series of bilateral meetings with the heads of agencies in New York before a final decision is taken on those 2007 funding allocations.

I welcome the support which the House has given to the increased aid funding. I look forward to the co-operation of Deputies as the aid programme expands.

I welcome the increase in the overseas development aid in the Estimates. However, it is a case of better late than never. As the Minister of State stated, the Government originally promised to achieve the 0.7% target by 2007. Is the Minister of State aware that the logic is that the larger the amount in the kitty, the larger the grant. One cannot jump from percentages to figures as it only confuses the issue. Obviously, if the Government had achieved the 0.7% figure, the monetary size of the grants would be much larger.

Will the increase of 0.04% per annum, required for the next five years to reach the 0.7% target, be achieved? Will the Minister of State introduce legislation to safeguard that commitment? We do not know who will be the Minister with responsibility in this area after the next election. He or she could renege on that commitment, which was made on behalf of the people. Will the Minister ensure there is not another U-turn on this matter?

I will try my level best to maintain this area of responsibility. There is cross-party support that we should achieve the 0.7% target by 2012. While other parties may have liked to see it reached earlier, when I took this job, I decided the target time had to be reframed because it was not realistic. Legislating for it has been raised by several Deputies but I am not sure whether it would be helpful.

The Department of Finance is tracking percentages and not looking at increases in cash or volume of aid. According to GNP as it stands at the start of the Estimates process, the Department allocates the percentage amount that meets the requirement to reach the 0.7% target. In New York, when the new timeframe of 2012 was set, two benchmark figures were set down that we would have to reach if we were to prove our sincerity in meeting the final target. These are milestone dates — to achieve 0.5% by 2007 and 0.6% by 2010.

I thought it was 0.7% by 2007.

We are well in position to achieve these milestones. Next year, we will have reached 0.5% of GNP. Members berated me when I first took up this area of responsibility, claiming we needed to be credible on achieving the target. I stated, even prior to the setting of the 2012 target date, that we needed to be on 0.5% in the next two years to prove we could make the jump to 0.7%. The next Government will be in a good position to see this through to the final target of 0.7%. I am proud the Department of Finance has agreed to a historic seven-year multi-annual agreement in funding to be made available to Irish Aid. That is the kind of predictability we need to expand this ambitious programme.

I wish we could switch the Minister of State on and off to keep him to some time limits so we can get a word in edgeways. I reassure the Minister of State that we did not berate him but his Taoiseach who made the promise in the United Nations in 2000 that he would reach 0.7% in 2007, which has resulted in the hungry and needy having to wait a further five years. I agree we should enshrine this in legislation.

The missionaries, lay and religious, sacrificed a great deal many years ago to work in these countries but now that they have returned their existence depends on charity. Has the Minister of State turned his attention to the wishes of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs which met representatives of those missionaries? Has he addressed the issue of providing some remuneration for those people in their latter days?

That topic is not relevant to this question but I will allow a brief response.

I wholeheartedly agree with the Deputy but Irish Aid already funds the Irish Missionary Resource Service, IMRS, to the tune of €14 million this year. That funds 1,500 missionaries in the field. Irish Aid officials are discussing this with the Department of Social and Family Affairs which carries primary responsibility for the provision of pensions and other social welfare entitlements. The IMRS is also involved in these discussions. With such a large allocation to the missionary services, distributed to approximately 80 distinct organisations, it should be possible for the three of us to achieve what the Deputy seeks. My colleague Deputy Kitt has raised the same issue.

How much money is going to Self Help this year? When I spoke about bullying I referred to the IFA bullying members of Self Help. Does the Minister of State think that is acceptable?

With regard to the IFA it is a question of whether one feels bullied. Many Ministers for Agriculture over the years might have claimed they were bullied by the IFA.

I am talking of verbal abuse. It was quite clear.

If we on this side of the House have an issue with the IFA we stand up to it, as we do to Deputy Gormley. We could not be bullied by it.

There is a rather toxic quality to the relationship between the IFA and Self Help to the point where the IFA has withdrawn its support for that organisation. That is a matter of profound regret and concern to me because it has implications for the underlying funding of Self Help which relies heavily on private contributions or subscriptions. It worries me that such a well-known organisation with a countrywide network of contacts as a fundraising pool has withdrawn support from Self Help.

Self Help is one of the smallest of the five MAPS participants. We contribute €3 million, whereas we give GOAL €1.5 million a month and Concern between €19 million and €20 million a year. Self Help is small but effective. Its projects on the ground are of the highest quality and have stood up to inquiry, investigation and evaluation.

Is the Minister of State concerned that the five strongest economies in the European Union are camouflaging their figures and are not likely to reach their 2015 targets? They are doing this by including matters under the official development aid target that have nothing to do with development, such as education of refugees, providing information and so forth. This statement has been made by the International Federation of Human Rights Organisations in Europe. The Minister of State must be familiar with it.

The development assistance committee of the OECD sets the rules and regulates what qualifies as official development assistance. Unfortunately, this committee has not agreed a set of criteria with regard to the resettlement of refugees.

The Iraqi and Nigerian debt are included.

It is within the rules of the development assistance committee to include some costs for the resettlement of refugees as part of official development assistance. We do not fully set these costs against our official development assistance as other donors do and have never decided to do so.

Multilateral debt relief qualifies for official development assistance but it drops out the following year according to the amounts and when they are given. This year, thanks to the generosity of the Minister for Finance, we achieved 0.5% for the first time, one year ahead of the schedule we had pencilled in. We achieved this because of a one-off €59 million payment by the Minister to the multilateral debt relief package begun in Gleneagles. That will drop out next year but we will reach the 0.5% target in 2007.

That is 40% of the United Kingdom figure.

This country, thankfully, has never been involved in pushing sovereign debt on other countries.

Of course, that was implied in my suggestion.

Therefore the issue does not affect us. Those other countries can write off the cost and set it against their official development assistance but it is a one-off phenomenon. We would like to see other donors join us in reaching the 0.7% target. Certain countries have committed to achieving it by 2015. We will have difficulties. I refer mainly to Germany, Italy and perhaps Greece.

Austria and the United Kingdom.

When we set the 2015 target Germany and France indicated they might have difficulties and tried to soften the commitment by making it subject to financial resources available at the time. They are experiencing their own traumas and difficulties so I would not condemn them for that. They were frank enough to say they might have difficulties before they signed up.

It was through the generosity of the taxpayer, not the Minister for Finance, that the target was reached.

I agree with the Deputy.

The Minister had some say in it.

Róisín Shortall


8 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Government accepts obligations in respect of the right to water as set out in General Covenant No. 15 of the committee of economic, social, and cultural rights towards the realisation of such a right, under the international covenant on economic, social, and cultural rights. [39537/06]

View answer

Róisín Shortall


38 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his proposals for the implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution on the international decade for action, Water for Life 2000-2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39538/06]

View answer

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 38 together.

The UN committee on economic, social and cultural rights has stated in its General Comment No. 15 that "the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses". The Government supports the views expressed by the committee in its General Comment No. 15. Irish Aid is working to ensure that financial and other supports are provided to enable developing countries to devise and implement national strategies and action plans aimed at delivering water and sanitation to all their citizens, with priority to the poorest rural and slum dwellers. These actions are being taken within the framework of the UN's international decade for action, Water for Life, 2005-2015.

The purpose of the international decade for action is to promote efforts to reach the millennium development goal target of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, as well as the realisation of integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans by each country. The global water crisis was the theme of the 2006 human development report, which was launched earlier this month in Dublin and a number of other capitals. The report ranked Ireland fifth in the world in terms of the percentage share of bilateral aid allocated to water and sanitation.

The White Paper on Irish Aid commits the Government to continue its support to activities which increase access to safe water and basic sanitation across the programme. As the aid programme grows, and subject to nationally-agreed priorities of our partners in programme countries, we will intensify our support for programmes and projects which deliver clean water and sanitation services.

At the launch of the human development report I addressed the issue of the contradiction concerning what is regarded as the management of water as a scarce resource which is used as a vehicle for imposing privatisation of water supplies in different countries. This cannot be reconciled with the acceptance of water as a basic right. If one accepts water as a basic right, one arrives at a different point. This matter is not resolved in the UNDP report, as the Minister of State should know. Even if the millennium development goals were achieved, it would still leave 800 million people without clean water and 1.8 billion people without sanitation. Effectively, sub-Saharan Africa will not have access to clean water until 2040 and sanitation until 2076. I do not misquote the Minister of State. The world millennium development goals will only go so far. Even if they were to be achieved, they would leave this legacy to which I referred.

The Minister of State need not answer unless he wishes but General Covenant No. 15 clearly established the fact that it is not soft law anymore, it is hard law. One cannot deny people the water they need. This issue arises domestically. As a result of our signature to that, we could not do so if we are to interpret it properly. The second point in regard to the quotation the Minister of State has just given is the international aspect. Is it the position that the Government is on the side of the "right to water" group rather than on the side of the World Bank which takes a view on the management of water as a scarce resource? I remind the Minister that the way it works is that the World Bank advises that one shuts off the water to everybody and then allows them back on a charged basis. The UNDP report posits a figure of 20 litres a day which is half the World Health Organisation figure. The daily consumption in African countries is 5 litres, while it is 600 litres in the United States and 400 litres in Europe. Is the Minister of State in favour of the rights-based approach to water provision or the World Bank limitation view which is about facilitating the privatisation of water resources under the scam of suggesting that a scarce resource is being managed?

I assure the Deputy I incline more to his view than that of the World Bank. However, I would emphasise that the World Bank has changed its approach to the privatisation of water and water utilities in African countries. That change of heart, while not expressed overtly, has occurred since early 2005. We do not incline to the World Bank definition. We are co-sponsoring a draft resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to take forward a study on the scope and content of the relevant human rights obligations related to access to water under international human rights instruments.

We are very much active in trying to guarantee that this right and obligation becomes precisely that, an obligation on domestic countries. As the Deputy rightly stated — that is the important aspect to remember from a legal point of view about General Comment No. 15 — that it is primarily applicable in the domestic sense. We cannot extend this right in an extra-territorial sense. We must work with governments in our partner countries and fund them to ensure they can roll out and extend this particular obligation vis-à-vis their own citizens.

I call Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

The Deputy is correct in stating that we in Ireland have an obligation.

Two questions were taken together. I suggest to the Minister of State that he reconsider the position in regard to our role both in the World Bank and internationally. It is hard law rather than soft law because one could interpret the universal declaration in the sense that a right to water is included under the right to health. The reason I put General Covenant No. 15 into the question is that there is no capacity for any signatory to deny people access to the water they need on a "discriminatory basis". One cannot exclude people without breaching international law on socio-economic grounds yet that is happening. Contrary to what the Minister of State outlined, that is what the World Bank facilitated all over South America and what it attempted to impose in South Africa and several other African countries.

I call Deputy Ó Snodaigh to ask a brief supplementary question.

The Deputy's interpretation may be correct but the World Bank has changed its view. That was never an Irish Aid view.

What sanctions will be taken against states that deny the right to water to a population through the confiscation of lands that give access to water supplies in order that they can control water and sell it back to the population, as is happening in Palestine? Is Israel a signatory to the covenant?

Since we are sponsoring a motion at the Human Rights Council to establish the scope and extent of how this right can be enforced, I am not in a position to fully answer the question about what sanction could potentially apply to states or governments that nakedly discriminate against their own citizens by denying them a right to water. Clearly, it would be something that could be pursued through the UN system. I do not wish to sound undefinite but that is all I can say for the moment.

With regard to the Irish Aid programme, I must emphasise that we extend water and sanitation facilities to people, not on a charged basis. We look at the levels of poverty in the areas in which we operate. In certain situations, however, one must charge for water because there is clear international evidence——

The Minister of State must conclude now.

——I am sure the Green Party would agree with me on this — that in certain situations there is less wastage where charges apply.

Not privatisation.

That is a slippery slope.

That concludes Question Time for today.

Which Minister is replying to the Adjournment matters?

I am afraid Deputies will have to suffer me for a bit longer. I am replying to all of the matters. I ask the Deputies to bear with me while I sort out my papers.

Deputy Costello has five minutes.

It is not a question of suffering the Minister of State. We enjoy having him here. It is a pleasure.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.