Thursday, 16 November 2023
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
64. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the bilateral aid programme continues to identify with and assist countries and communities that continue to be affected by various shortages in vital supplies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50493/23]
72. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which Irish aid goes directly to those whom it was intended in a smooth and seamless transition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50501/23]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 72 together.
In Budget 2024, the Government provided the highest ever allocation for the international development assistance programme managed, under Vote 27, by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The allocation of €776.5 million represents an increase of €60 million, or 8.4% of the 2023 allocation.
This will help to ensure that Ireland can maintain our longstanding focus on the most vulnerable countries and communities, including those most acutely affected by food insecurity and conflict.
Supporting countries and communities most seriously in need is at the core of Ireland’s development assistance programme. The Government's policy for international development, A Better World,provides the framework, with a focus on reaching the furthest behind first and addressing the needs of those living in some of the world’s poorest or most climate-exposed countries and those living in areas affected by conflict.
The Government delivers this support through our bilateral development programme, channelled through Irish Embassies in relevant countries, through civil society and humanitarian organisations and through multilateral organisations, including the United Nations.
The most important criterion for decisions on which channel to use is the ability of the partner to reach those most in need in the most effective way possible.d These partners continue to be crucial, especially in the context of delivery of essential food supplies in countries facing humanitarian crises, food insecurity and climate shocks.
The world’s food systems continue to be severely disrupted as a result of climate change and economic shocks, and the impact of the conflict in Ukraine. Ireland has responded strongly to the deterioration in food and nutrition security, while also supporting ongoing efforts to build longer term, sustainable food and nutrition sytems.
For example, Ireland has pledged €50 million over three years in partnership with the USAID-UNICEF Accelerating Progress Against Child Wasting initiative which focuses explicitly on addressing child malnutrition in countries that are among the worst affected by the current food and nutrition crisis globally. As part of this pledge Ireland has also developed a new programme for Horn of Africa countries – Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia – aiming to improve local food security and supporting engagement in profitable, climate resilient livelihood strategies.
The Government will continue to fund programmes and actions that aim to improve and expedite access to nutritious food, providing at least €284 million for food and agriculture interventions in 2023.
65. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the multi-lateral overseas aid programme continues to interact directly with communities most seriously affected by conditions such as war, hunger and drought; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50494/23]
Conflict, climate change and the continuing impact of the pandemic have combined to increase the need for humanitarian assistance in crises across the globe. The international response increased to a record €26.85 billion in 2022. This support meant that over 216 million people across 69 countries received food, medicine and other life-saving assistance.
The commitments and contributions of the international community are guided by the United Nations Global Humanitarian Overview, a summary of the most pressing crises across the globe. It is updated regularly to ensure that the humanitarian response is focused on the most severe crises and reaches the most vulnerable populations, particularly women, girls and people living with disabilities.
Ireland is playing our part in the global response, ranking among the top 20 humanitarian donors. In 2022 Ireland provided over €280 million in humanitarian assistance. Our assistance was focused on countries affected by war, famine and drought, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine, the Sahel and Venezuela. Ireland also responds quickly to natural disasters, such as the the earthquakes in Turkiye/Syria and in Morocco and Afghanistan.
More than one third of Ireland's Official Development Assistance is provided to multilateral partners, notably the European Union, the World Bank and UN Agencies. These partnerships enable Ireland to reach conflict affected communities across the globe. The EU is the largest humanitarian donor and the World Bank is increasingly focused on the most fragile countries affected by conflict. UN agencies such as the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, the UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF coordinate and deliver life saving assistance to millions of people suffering from drought and hunger.
Significant elements of Ireland’s ODA are delivered through other Government Departments. For example the the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine provides support to the UN World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. These UN agencies also provide vital emergency assistance to vulnerable communities across the globe.