Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tom Kitt TD, launches Ireland Aid Annual Report 2001.
The following is a summary of his Speech:
While the Minister reiterated poverty reduction as the absolute focus of the programme, and the traditional emphasis remaining on the mainstays of development such as; education, health, food & water security, and good governance, he also outlined some new directions for the programme.
Trade and Development:
“As a former Minister for Trade I am acutely aware of the connection between long term sustainable development and trade. Therefore, as Minister for Development Co-Operation, I will approach the international trade agenda from a broader development perspective.
“The key issues remain two-fold; improving access and fairness for developing countries within the global marketplace and assisting in the improvement of their trade capacity. With regard to fairness of access it is my job and, that of Ireland Aid, to promote the trade interests of developing countries at the key international fora, and in particular in our national policy preparations for the Doha WTO Development Round negotiations, and similarly ensure these interests are taken into account, to the greatest extent possible, in our national policy.”
“ I will also strengthen Ireland Aid's involvement in helping developing countries to increase their trade capacity. If they are to end their marginalisation from global trade, they need to develop national trade policies, to establish institutions such as export boards and to have trained experts representing their interests in the WTO. Ireland Aid is contributing significant funding to such bodies and training schemes, however we need to do more in this area and to develop a well thought out trade capacity building strategy.”
“The IT industry and our national pool of qualified IT engineers and programmers have played a key role in our recent development. I strongly believe that Ireland Aid should work to bring this great resource into its programme and use it for the benefit of its developing country partners.”
“I am setting up at present a small task force to take this work forward. This task force will bring together in due course Ireland Aid, the private sector, relevant Government Departments, NGOs and education experts. Its mission will be to implement a pilot programme in the area of information and communications technology. This programme will respond to the needs of one of our developing country partners and will seek to bring IT solutions to bear on a development challenge, possibly in the health or education sectors.”
“The HIV/AIDS crisis, which is laying waste to so much of sub-Saharan Africa and jeopardising what we are seeking to achieve with our aid interventions there. Building on the Taoiseach's initiative of June 2001, when he announced that an additional $30 million would be spent each year on this problem, I intend to make this a priority area for the programme.”
“I saw for myself during a recent visit to Zambia and Malawi the devastating human consequences of this disease. I will never forget the dignity of the men and women I met in an AIDS hospice in Northern Zambia and indeed the quality and compassion of the care provided by Irish Missionaries and the local community at both the hospice and an adjacent orphanage I visited for children who have lost their parents to AIDS.”
“As Fr Michael Kelly, Professor of Education at the University of Zambia, said when he addressed the recent Ireland Aid Forum “ Education for All,” “What price can you put on a cuddle that a child doesn't get?”
Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation:
“A major food crisis continues to unfold in Southern Africa. Shortly after I became Minister, I visited two of the countries directly affected, Malawi and Zambia, to witness this crisis at first hand. I would like to pay a particular tribute here to the work of Irish NGOs and missionaries on the ground in the countries worst affected by the crisis. The selfless commitment and devotion to the needs of others which I witnessed was truly extraordinary. Ireland Aid is continuing to monitor the food shortages in Southern Africa.”
“Southern Africa is a key target of the Ireland Aid programme generally. In 2002 we are delivering over €80 million in aid to that region. It is only through long-term commitment and through a process of partnership with governments, civil society and other donors that the complex relationships between poverty, governance and recurring emergencies can eventually be better understood.”
“Unfortunately the food shortages are not confined to southern Africa. Ethiopia, another of our programme countries, is facing a major crisis at present. It is estimated that over 6 million Ethiopians are currently severely food-insecure. Against this background, I have today approved an extra allocation of €1 million for emergency food operations in Ethiopia.”
The Ireland Aid Budget:
“Finally, a word on resources. The Government has made very clear in the Programme for Government its commitment to achieving the 0.7% target by 2007. This commitment was again reaffirmed by the Taoiseach at the recent Johannesburg Summit, following the unprecedented increase in the aid budget this year. I want to take this opportunity to once again reiterate my commitment to achieving this objective.”
“What price can you put on a cuddle that a child doesn't get”
As politicians we should remember this as a useful moral guide when it comes to prioritizing our commitments at budget time. Honouring our commitment to 0.7% of GNP by 2007 represents the strongest possible statement of where we stand on the issues of Justice, Equality and Poverty throughout the world.”