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Minister Power launches Irish Aid Annual Report

Ahead of tomorrow's launch of the Irish Aid Annual report for 2009, the Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, T.D., has stressed the Government’s commitment to the fight against global poverty and hunger and the important international role Ireland is playing in preparation for the Summit in New York to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (20-22 September).

In his speech, which will be delivered at the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre in O’Connell Street, Dublin, Minister Power will say:

“In just two week’s time, world leaders will meet in New York for a UN Summit to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals. The message Ireland will bring to New York is the need to intensify international efforts to achieve those Goals by 2015, even at a time of great economic difficulty. The 2009 Annual Report highlights how Ireland has taken a lead in focusing attention on the continuing crisis of hunger in our world, and how we are making a difference by ensuring that every Euro of our aid has maximum effect, working in partnership with Governments and communities in some of the poorest countries in the world.”

The 2009 Irish Aid Annual Report focuses on the core priority of the Government’s aid programme - the elimination of extreme poverty and hunger in the poorest countries and communities in the world. The fight against hunger is the cornerstone of the Irish Aid programme. Following the 2008 Hunger Task Force Report, Irish Aid has had a stronger focus on the needs of smallholder and women farmers and improving nutrition and Ireland has played an active role internationally on these issues. Ireland will co-host a high level political meeting with the United States in New York to coincide with the Millennium Development Goals Summit. The meeting will focus attention on hunger and nutrition, especially among young children.

80% of Irish Aid funding is directed to sub-Saharan Africa where seven of Ireland’s nine partner countries are located. Speaking of this aspect in his address Minister Power will say:

“Our assistance prioritises the needs of small-holder and women farmers, the fight against HIV and AIDS and improving the enrolment of girls in primary education – areas which have a direct impact on poverty and hunger. The focus is on building local systems and the capability to deliver local solutions to the challenges of poverty, in line with international best practice.”

Minister Power will also stress the importance of reducing the vulnerability of communities to natural disasters:

“The devastating flooding in Pakistan and the Haiti earthquake have reminded us just how vulnerable a large proportion of the world’s population continues to be.

Natural disasters bring home not just the importance of immediate emergency assistance from the international community but also the need to build up the resilience of developing countries over the long term. The effects of natural disasters are always accentuated by the effects of poverty.

Changing this unacceptable reality is impossible without a sustained, international effort based on partnership.”

Note for editors

Irish Aid, the Government’s programme for overseas development, is an integral part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In 2009, the Government allocated 0.54% of GNP to Official Development Assistance, making Ireland the seventh most generous aid donor in the world in per capita terms. In 2010, Ireland will exceed the interim target of 0.51% which was agreed at EU level five years ago.

Among the key achievements to which the Irish Aid programme contributed in 2009 are:

  • In Malawi, 1.6 million smallholder farmers have been able to purchase fertiliser and improved seeds through the Government Farm Input programme. In 2009, only 10% of households had less than adequate food consumption, down from 38% in 2007.
  • In Tanzania, enrolment in primary school increased from 59% to almost 100% between 2000 and 2007, while the number of girls receiving secondary education increased by 20% between 2008 and 2009.
  • In Timor Leste, the promotion of gender equality was prioritised in the preparation of the Government’s 2010 budget, and a new law was passed making domestic violence a crime.
  • In Ethiopia, over 450,000 hectares of land have been enclosed for reforestation in Tigray in recent years and 185,000 households, 20% of which are headed by women, benefitted from additional irrigation in 2009.

For further information or to arrange an interview with Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power, please contact Maggie Collins, Irish Aid: 01-4082653.