I thank the Chairman and members of the sub-committee for the invitation to appear before them today to bring them up to date on the elements of our development programme in Mozambique. As I understand members have been given a brief on the programme, I will not spend much time providing detail. I will, however, outline the main components of the programme and the role we play among donors and with the Government of Mozambique.
We have a good, well balanced four-year programme focused on helping Mozambique in its efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and attain the millennium development goals. In the past two years, we have spent €87 million in Mozambique and we have a budget of €40 million for this year, the largest budget among our programme countries.
Before outlining in brief some of the key elements of our approach, it is important to state that Mozambique is a country where it is possible to point to significant results arising from Ireland's engagement and that of other donor countries. Following almost two decades of civil war ending in 1992, Mozambique has moved from being a fragile state to being a haven of peace and stability. In the 1990s, following the civil war, Mozambique was the poorest country in the world and 80% of its people lived in absolute poverty, that is, on less than a dollar per day. Following more than a decade of sustained growth, the number in absolute poverty has fallen from 80% to 50% of the population and Ireland has been centrally engaged in contributing to this development.
Three sets of general elections have been held in Mozambique since 1994. While none of them was perfect, each election has been better than the preceding election. If municipal elections in November last were anything to go by, the general elections in October next should be the best in the country's history.
Mozambique, as some members will be aware, is prone to natural disasters. The country lies in the path of cyclones from the Indian Ocean and because most of the central African plateau drains into the country, it is prone to floods and, ironically, droughts. In every instance in recent years, the Government and in particular the national agency responsible for dealing with these emergencies have shown themselves to be responsive and responsible. To summarise, the key message is that Mozambique is a good development partner for Ireland and other donor countries. That all major western donors and multilateral agencies have missions and programmes in the country is further testimony to this fact.
I will now address the key elements of our engagement in Mozambique. Ireland has programmes in two provinces, Inhambane in the south, which is six hours drive from Maputo, and Niassa in the north, which is four hours flying time from Maputo. We have a large programme aimed at helping the health sector in which, through our partnership with the Clinton Foundation, we provide additional funds for the sector to help ensure it can afford a programme of anti-retroviral treatment for AIDS sufferers. We have similar sectoral programmes in education and agriculture. As regards HIV-AIDS, we work with the National AIDS Council on a broad agenda of prevention and mitigation. In Mozambique we are also making a concerted effort, uniquely among programme countries, to transfer some of the experience of Ireland in job creation to revitalise moribund factories in the cashew and coconut industries. After more than a decade of assisting with de-mining and significant success in contributing to the clearance of the four northern provinces of Mozambique, we have a final programme in Inhambane in the south which will end in 18 months. We support civil society with a special focus on promoting good governance through a challenge fund that we operate with another donor.
I wish to speak about budget support which occasionally can be controversial. It is the assistance we provide for Mozambique's central exchequer. Ireland currently chairs the group of donors in the country, the group of 19 donors providing support for Mozambique's exchequer. Between us, we provide US$450 million in budget support annually and a similar amount in support through the sectoral programmes. Apart from the fact that we are focused on reducing poverty through a national strategy, the central advantage to us is that budget support gives us access to all government budgets. We have access to the budgets for health, education, military expenditure, police expenditure, the President's household and the cost of parliament. We have a big influence in controlling budgets and accounting for them. We can ensure more than 50% is spent on health and education.
With me as chair of the heads of mission and my colleague, Mr. Patrick Empey, as chair of the heads of co-operation, we co-ordinate the provision of funds, including the directing of an annual full measurement of performance in all sectors, the setting of targets for that performance and the management of interaction with the government that arises on the problems within that performance. It includes leading a number of meetings at ministerial level in the past year. During our chairmanship we agreed the basis for the provision of budget support through the negotiation of a new memorandum of understanding for the next five years. We included as a condition for providing financial support an obligation for compliance with key democratic and accountability principles such as safeguarding peace and promoting free, credible and democratic political processes, the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, respect for human rights, good governance and probity in public life, including the fight against corruption; prioritising fighting poverty through its policies and plans and in its patterns of public expenditure; and pursuing sound macroeconomic policies and public financial management systems. The measurement of performance year-on-year has shown consistent improvement. The provision of budget and sectoral support is conditional on more than half of all expenditure being directed to the key human capital sectors such as health and education.
That is a brief summary of our programme. I know the sub-committee was anxious to focus on the achievements within the programme. Perhaps we can do that in response to specific questions.