Afghanistan: Country Plan 2009-2013

House of Lords written statement – made at on 29 April 2009.

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Photo of Lord Tunnicliffe Lord Tunnicliffe Government Whip, Government Whip

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development has made the following Statement.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are of critical strategic importance to the UK. Helping both countries to ensure their own security, stability, growth and development is vital both for the Afghan and Pakistani people and for our own national security.

In January 2006 we signed a 10-year development partnership agreement with the Government of Afghanistan. I am today announcing our new four-year country plan, at a moment when we so urgently need a renewed effort from across the international community. The plan explains how we will support the Afghan Government in achieving their goals under the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS), which was launched at the Paris Conference in June 2008.

DFID's support to Afghanistan is part of the wider UK Government strategy for the region set out by the Prime Minister. Our programme fits alongside the work of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, forming a comprehensive effort to help strengthen state institutions, counter the threat of violent extremism, and pursue sustainable economic growth across the region. Over the same 2009-13 period, we have pledged already to spend £665 million helping the Pakistani Government to achieve their vision of becoming a stable, economically and socially developed country.

Our Afghanistan Country Plan focuses on four areas where we are best placed to provide support under the ANDS: building an effective state; encouraging economic growth; providing alternatives to poppy growing; and promoting stability and development in Helmand. We will maintain our humanitarian support, primarily through UN agencies. We will strengthen our focus on gender by building partnerships within the Government of Afghanistan and with other donors, particularly multilateral institutions, to increase their contribution to addressing gender inequality.

The commitment I am making today, of £510 million over the next four years, confirms us as the second largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan. We will continue to spend at least 50 per cent of our assistance through Afghan Government systems. As well as ensuring value for money for the UK, this is the best way to improve Afghan capacity to govern, and to strengthen the connection between the citizen and the state. We are asking other donors to do the same in order to strengthen Afghan capacity through co-ordinated and transparent planning.