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International Development Questions

4th July 2018

Harriett Baldwin answers MPs’ questions to the Department for International Development.


Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
2. What steps she is taking to promote the development of technology in developing countries. [906240]

Alan Mak (Havant) (Con)
6. What steps she is taking to promote the development of technology in developing countries. [906244]

The Minister of State, Department for International Development (Harriett Baldwin)
Investments from our aid budget in technologies are saving and changing lives all over the world. Half of our research budget this year is for new technologies in developing countries in health, agriculture, climate, clean energy, water and education and for humanitarian response in emergencies.

Vicky Ford
The Phoenix rotary club in Chelmsford supports the One Last Push campaign to eradicate polio, and new technology means that polio workers on the ground can target efforts where they are most needed. Will my hon. Friend confirm that this Government will continue to support the One Last Push campaign and end polio for good?

Harriett Baldwin
This question gives me an opportunity to pay tribute not only to the rotary club my hon. Friend mentions but to Rotarians across the world who have been working hard on this push to eradicate polio. UK Aid has been at their side throughout this journey; we have eradicated something like 99% of the world’s polio cases, but we must continue to push for that final 1%.

Alan Mak
n April, Commonwealth Heads of Government committed to achieving quality eye care for all. Will my hon. Friend meet me and other vision campaigners to ensure that vision is taken seriously at this month’s global disability summit?

Harriett Baldwin
I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting such an important issue. As someone who is extremely myopic, I benefit from glasses. This is an incredibly important aspect of what we can do, and at this month’s disability summit the world will be coming together to pledge what more it can do to help with people’s inclusion around the world, and certainly vision will play a key role.

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North) (Lab)
Last week I met some of CAFOD’s Pacific climate warriors who campaign for environmental justice so that they can protect their homes so that we can all work together to protect our common home. What are the British Government doing to promote the development ​of technology in places that suffer the most catastrophic effects of climate change that ultimately affect the UK too?

Harriett Baldwin
The hon. Lady is right to highlight this issue. She will be aware of the announcements we made alongside so many of the small island states at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in April to help them with technology to adapt to the changing climate, and also the additional £61 million announced by the Prime Minister to tackle the scourge of plastics in our oceans.

Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)
Some small charities are working exceptionally hard in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly using technology to deliver much needed clean drinking water to those areas. What help can the Government offer to those charities to deliver for those people in that exceptionally dry part of the continent of Africa?

Harriett Baldwin
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to draw attention to the challenges posed by climate change, particularly to the countries nearest the Sahara. UK Aid is working very closely with them, and investments in technology are helping to address that and provide drinking water for many hundreds of thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Antoinette Sandbach (Eddisbury) (Con)
The development of the M-Pesa payment system in Kenya with the help of DFID has absolutely transformed the economy, particularly for small traders. What other steps and similar developments can my hon. Friend outline that would improve the Kenyan economy?

Harriett Baldwin
This is another great example of how UK Aid can work to unlock a payment system that in many ways leapfrogs what we have here in the UK: people can pay from their mobile phone for a range of technologies and goods. Recently we had a solar fridge in DFID, and M-KOPA Solar is helping poor people in Kenya and other countries to pay for those fridges by using that technology.

Chris Law (Dundee West) (SNP)
After continued pressure from these Scottish National party Benches, it was reassuring to hear after meeting the World Bank last week that it has made a firm commitment to no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019. However, the UK Government are still spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money funding fossil fuel projects in countries that are already bearing the worst brunt of climate change. Will the Minister of State today match the World Bank commitment to stop funding polluting fuels by 2019?

Harriett Baldwin
Along with colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, we are doing a lot to encourage many of these countries not only to power past coal and fossil fuels but to invest considerable amounts in renewable energy. I share the hon. Gentleman’s aspiration to work with developing countries to power past fossil fuels.


Access to Education

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
5. What steps she is taking to expand access to education in developing countries. [906243]

The Minister for Africa (Harriett Baldwin)
We supported 7.1 million children between 2015 and 2017 through bilateral and multilateral education programmes. UK leadership has secured ambitious commitments to ensure that children have access to 12 years of quality education.

Jim Shannon
I thank the Minister for her response. DFID is working with the Pakistan Minorities Teachers’ Association to provide education to religious minorities in schools. Does the Minister agree that DFID should continue and expand its work with the PMTA to ensure that hate material is removed from textbooks and that it does not inadvertently fund discriminatory materials?

Harriett Baldwin
The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue, and I can reassure him that DFID does not fund the production of any textbooks in Pakistan that contain any bias against religious minorities. I can also confirm that in terms of our support for education in Pakistan, we support independent evaluations—

Mr Speaker
That is extremely helpful, but I am keen to get others in.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
Given that most jobs in developing countries will be in self-employment or small businesses, what input does DFID have into the curriculum in developing countries to ensure that the necessary skills are taught?

Harriett Baldwin
The education strategy that we published earlier this year focuses on ensuring that people leave primary school with good literacy and maths skills and that we invest in high-quality teaching.

Jo Platt (Leigh) (Lab/Co-op)
Last month I had the pleasure of visiting a Voluntary Service Overseas project in Malawi that focuses on the promotion of youth engagement in the country. My time was spent with young people from all over the country who were passionate, political and eager to have their voices heard. Will the Minister commit to meet me to discuss that project and how we can support youth voice structures in developing countries?

Harriett Baldwin
I am delighted to hear about the hon. Lady’s wonderful trip to Malawi and look forward to meeting her to discuss it in more detail. I can confirm that we are doing extensive bilateral work in Malawi and that many young people from the UK go out with the VSO’s International Citizen Service.

Dan Carden (Liverpool, Walton) (Lab)
Some 11.5 million young people globally have signed a petition to the United Nations backing a $10 billion plan to create an international finance facility for education that would guarantee every child the right to an education by 2030. If we are to meet the sustainable development goal on ​education, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown says that we require an “extraordinary, indeed superhuman, effort.” Will the Government provide both financial guarantees to such a facility and that superhuman effort?

Harriett Baldwin
I pay tribute to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s and his work on the girls’ education agenda around the world. We are considering the feasibility of that international financing facility for education, and we are going through the technical detail, but we are not yet in a position to support the proposal.


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