International Development Spending Priorities (Malawi)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 6 June 2013.

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Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

7. To ask the Scottish Government what its priorities are for international development spending in Malawi. (S4O-02221)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Scotland has a special relationship with Malawi, governed by a co-operation agreement between our two nations. The agreement sets out the priority areas on which the Scottish Government and the Government of Malawi work together, which are health, education, civil society and governance, and sustainable economic development. Further priorities are always developing. Topics of mutual interest include renewable energy, water and climate change.

The Scottish Government has a minimum commitment of £3 million per year for projects in Malawi.

Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I thank the minister for that answer, but is he aware of concern among international development charities and aid organisations about the fact that there will be no further applications to the Malawi fund until next autumn—that is, autumn 2014? I understand that some money has been released this year, but that that money is a carry-forward from an underspend last year. In effect, that means that no new money will be spent on Malawi until 2015.

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I thank the member for raising that concern.

There were several reasons for moving from a yearly to a triennial funding round. One was to avoid a £1.5 million underspend. In addition, the new timetable allowed five or six projects to get an extra £400,000-worth of spending. The new timetable also gives the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland and the Scotland Malawi Partnership the opportunity to focus on preparing the small grants scheme, which will be launched in the autumn of this year.

I am more than happy to sit down with the member to clarify any specific concerns but, as I said, the commitment to spend £3 million a year on projects in Malawi is there and will remain.

Photo of Liam McArthur Liam McArthur Liberal Democrat

The minister will be aware of the interest that exists in Orkney in the small grants scheme with regard to Malawi. Has there been any further thinking about the areas that the scheme will cover?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

Discussions are still going on with the Scotland Malawi Partnership, NIDOS and other stakeholders to ensure that we get the scheme absolutely right. I will endeavour to ensure that the member is kept up to date with those discussions. I hope that he will pass on my best to Pastor Kester from the Thyolo Highlands, which is twinned with Westray in his constituency.