Afghanistan: Drugs

International Development written question – answered on 5th March 2007.

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Photo of John MacDougall John MacDougall Labour, Glenrothes

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures his Department is taking to aid the destruction of poppy farming in Afghanistan.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn The Secretary of State for International Development

The UK is spending £270 million over three years to support the Afghan Government's National Drug Control Strategy. DFID's main role in an effective counter narcotics strategy is to promote alternative, legal livelihoods. We also provide policy advice to key ministries on how best to do this. Our Livelihoods Programme, worth nearly £150 million from 2006-09, helps support Afghan national priority programmes aimed at developing legal livelihood opportunities as alternatives to poppy farming. We seek to mainstream counter narcotics elements throughout our programme as appropriate.

DFID's support for the National Rural Access Programme (NRAP) is helping to build essential infrastructure such as irrigation schemes, roads and bridges. These provide much-needed infrastructure for economic development and jobs for Afghans at the same time. DFID gave £18 million to NRAP in 2005-06. The programme has already generated over 15 million days of labour, and nearly 9,500 km of roads have been built or repaired. Schools, health clinics and water schemes have also been constructed or repaired.

DFID is providing £17 million between 2006-09 to the National Solidarity Programme (NSP). This enables local communities to identify their own development needs through the setting up of elected Community Development Councils (CDCs). NSP has now established over 16,000 CDCs across Afghanistan, and funded over 22,000 projects in the areas of agriculture, education, health, irrigation, power supply, transport, and water supply.

Our support to the Micro-Finance Investment Support Facility of Afghanistan (MISFA) is helping Afghans to invest in income-generating activities and increase their savings. DFID is providing £20 million over three years (2006-09) to help provide small loans to the poor, who cannot otherwise get credit. So far, over £90 million of small loans has been given to over 230,000 Afghan families, tailors, shopkeepers, farmers and others to invest and increase their savings.

The UK is also contributing £30 million over three years to the UN-administered Counter Narcotics Trust Fund (CNTF) to help the Afghan Government implement various rural livelihood projects through their National Drug Control Strategy. DFID has recently agreed to provide £7 million over three years towards a World Bank programme to help farmers improve high value horticulture and livestock products in Afghanistan, with a focus on poppy growing areas.

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