Category: International Development

All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethiopia and Djibouti

Lord Sheikh is a Vice Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethiopia and Djibouti.

The APPG for Ethiopia and Djibouti held a meeting on Wednesday 26th February. The Ethiopian Ambassador H.E. Mr Fesseha Shawel Gebre was in attendance and gave a short update to the Group and talked about the forthcoming General Elections and the reforms which have occurred under the premiership of Mr Abiy Ahmed. Lord Sheikh made the point that as now the UK has come out of the EU, more trade should be established with Ethiopia. The country has many opportunities for trade and investment and the UK should seek to increase and strengthen its economic ties with the country.

The meeting was productive and the Group engaged in interesting conversations.

The picture shows Lord Sheikh, His Excellency Mr Fesseha Shawel Gebre and Mr Laurence Robertson MP Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethiopia and Djibouti.

FIRE AID and International Development Conference 2019

The FIRE AID and International Development Conference was held at the London Fire Brigade HQ on 1st November 2019.

The conference was opened by Jim Fitzpatrick MP who is the Chair of FIRE AID. The conference had discussions on the importance of supporting Fire and Rescue Charities, the importance of data and research in post-crash response and working in partnership to improve post-crash response.

FIRE AID is a charity which provides ethical and sustainable donations of fire and rescue equipment and training to over 50 countries across the world.

Lord Sheikh was invited to speak on his experience in Tajikistan when he visited the Republican Fire Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan alongside His Excellency Mr Matthew Lawson, the British Ambassador to Tajikistan to close the latest FIRE AID project.


Lord Sheikh’s Visit to Tajikistan

Lord Sheikh visited Tajikistan between 16th to 21st September 2019 at the invitation of His Excellency Mr Masud Khalifazoda the Ambassador of Tajikistan to the United Kingdom. Lord Sheikh had the pleasure of staying at the residence of His Excellency Mr Matthew Lawson the British Ambassador to Tajikistan during his visit.

The purpose of the visit was to find out more about the current situation in Tajikistan and to strengthen political, trade, educational and cultural ties between the UK and Tajikistan. It was primarily a fact-finding mission and Lord Sheikh had the intention of observing and exploring the social and economic factors in the country. He wanted to meet and talk to people, ascertain the situation and make representations to government departments.

To read Lord Sheikh’s summary report from his visit to Tajikistan, please click on the following link: 2020-01-06 – Report – Lord Sheikh Tajikistan Visit 16-21 September. This report was sent to all the relevant persons in the UK, Tajikistan and other countries.

During his visit, Lord Sheikh had a full schedule of engagements. His engagements included the following:

Meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Muzaffar Huseynzoda.

Meeting with the Rector of Tajik Technical University Mr Haydar Odinazoda.


The Main Directorate of the State Fire Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan together with the British Embassy in Dushanbe, FireAid, Staffordshire Emergency Services Humanitarian Aid, Eastern Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Transport and the Young Generation of Tajikistan NGO hosted a joint ceremony to officially hand over two fire engines and fire appliances to Tajikistan’s State Fire Service.

Lord Sheikh attended and spoke at the ceremony alongside the Head of the State Fire Service of MIA Major-General Nozimjon Ibrohimzoda, British Ambassador His Excellency Matthew Lawson and the representatives of other partner organisations. During his speech, Lord Sheikh noted the importance of building up the resilience of Tajik firefighters and rescuers so that they could effectively respond to fire cases and traffic accidents in Tajikistan.

Since 2015, with the help of the Fire Aid project, the State Fire Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tajikistan have received 6 fire engines, 1 ambulance car and a specialized vehicle for carrying out road accident operations.


Lord Sheikh and His Excellency Matthew Lawson spoke at the plenary session of the International GCRF Conference “Tajikistan and Cultural Diplomacy in Central Asia and Eurasia”.  Lord Sheikh highlighted the importance of education for building prosperity in the country. Responding to the questions from the audience, His Excellency Matthew Lawson noted that helping Tajikistan build its resilience is the cornerstone of UK Government’s mission in Tajikistan.

Lord Sheikh’s meeting with Mr Numon Abdugafforzoda, the Chairman of The Committee for Tourism Development under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.


Lord Sheikh’s meeting with Mr Kozidavlat Koimdodov, AKDN Representative in Tajikistan.


Lord Sheikh’s meeting with the representatives of the Sughd Free Economic Zone (FEZ). Established in 2008 in a highly favorable location, the Sughd FEZ offers 320 hectares of land and a number of incentives for enterprises.


During his visit to the Sughd region, Lord Sheikh participated in the official opening of the 14th UNICEF Tajikistan’s Adolescent Innovation Lab.


Lord Sheikh was pleased to meet with active social entrepreneurs in Khujand to listen to their success stories.






Lord Sheikh’s Written Parliamentary Questions on Sustainable Development


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps are they taking alongside international partners to promote the Sustainable Development Goals. (HL17365)


Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Government is firmly committed to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are embedded in the UK Aid Strategy and DFID’s Single Departmental Plan which is now modelled around the 5Ps of People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships.

The first Voluntary National Review (VNR) of UK progress towards the SDGs, published in June and presented to the UN in July, highlights the range of activities the Government and a wide variety of partners are undertaking to deliver the Goals at home and abroad. In preparing the Review, the Government participated in 35 engagement events, consulted over 350 organisations and received 270 case studies. The Government has also sought the views of over 6,000 members of the public on investing in the SDGs.

The UK’s support for international development is our major contribution to delivering the Goals abroad and entails close cooperation and coordination with other bilateral partners and numerous multilateral organisations. Activities include support for health and education, peace and security and climate action.

There is still more to be done. The SDG Summit at the UN General Assembly in September will be an important global moment for the UK and partners to further promote the Goals, and reaffirm their commitment to delivering them.


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress have they made in promoting sustainable fishing in developing countries. (HL17366) 


Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Department for International Development’s (DFID) portfolio of commercial agriculture programmes includes support which helps promote the development of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in developing countries. For example, the Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) programme in Myanmar promotes community management of wild fisheries. Poor households have better maintained their fish stocks, and adopted new marketing practices, which has helped improve their income and food and nutrition security. The new DFID Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness programme will provide technical assistance to small local businesses working in the aquaculture sector in Malawi and will work with investors to promote responsible investment in this sector. DFID is also supporting sustainable small-scale aquaculture, and our support has contributed to improving the fish-based livelihoods of 51,235 households and 72,264 people.

As part of our cross-Government commitment to protecting the global environment, DFID has provided £150 million and DEFRA £100 million funding to the Global Environment Facility 7th replenishment (2018-2022), which includes support for small island developing states in managing their marine territories. We also provide a core contribution to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which supports countries in sustainable fisheries management. Progress is reported in the FAO’s flagship State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture.


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assistance they are providing to the developing countries which are most vulnerable to water scarcity. (HL17367) 


Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: One-third of the world’s people live under conditions of severe water scarcity at least 1 month of the year and global demand is now expected to outstrip supply by 40% in 2030, based on current trends.

Our focus has been on access to water and sanitation, and since 2015 DFID has helped more than 51 million people in Africa and Asia gain access to a drinking water supply or toilet facilities. We have recognised the need to invest more in addressing water scarcity, and we are funding a £52m Water Security programme to look at how best to integrate water resource management into development programmes, particularly in cities and agriculture. New programming being developed on water will have a focus on water scarcity.


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they will put in place to aid progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. (HL17368) 


Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The Government is committed to delivering the Goals at home and around the world. The UK’s first Voluntary National Review shows some of the actions we are taking on all 17 Goals, and the progress we are making. For example, our pioneering Modern Slavery Act is supporting our delivery of Goals 8 and 16, to tackle injustices and exploitation in the UK and internationally.

The Goals are embedded in departments’ single departmental plans – this remains the most effective mechanism for monitoring their delivery.

Following the Voluntary National Review, we are reviewing existing mechanisms that oversee Government’s contribution to domestic delivery of the Goals, building on the Single Departmental Plan process. This will strengthen accountability and cross-government work on the Goals.


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the UN report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, published on 15 July, which suggests an increase in food insecurity in the developing world. (HL17369) 


Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report shows that progress without significantly increased efforts, the world will fall far short of achieving the target of eradicating hunger by 2030. The UK is playing its part to ending hunger and undernutrition through its substantial portfolio of humanitarian support and longer-term responses to tackling chronic hunger and supporting food security by transforming agriculture. We are aware that the international community needs to do more. We are discussing opportunities for scaled-up and improved global interventions, including the German-initiated proposal for a major SDG2 event in 2020, bringing together world leaders to agree commitments to reverse the negative trend on hunger and progress SDG2 on the road to 2030, and are supporting the Government of Japan in its preparations for the 2020 Nutrition for Growth Summit.


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the current humanitarian situation in Eritrea. (HL17370) 


Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: Eritrea’s location in the Horn of Africa makes it susceptible to extreme weather events such as droughts and flooding. We are concerned by deteriorating levels of food security in the Horn of Africa as a result of poor rainfall across much of the region. Slower economic growth and the residual effects of war also perpetuate the vulnerability of Eritrea’s population.

DFID has funded life-saving activity in Eritrea for several years, including providing £3.24m to UNICEF in 2018-19 to help treat malnutrition in under-fives and provide access to safe hygiene and sanitation services. DFID has recently agreed to extend funding to UNICEF Eritrea until March 2021.

Millennium Development Goals

My Lords, the successor framework is vital to ensuring that we maintain and build upon the aims of the millennium development goals. The international community has made great efforts to fulfil the goals, with excellent progress in areas such as increasing access to primary school education and improving sources of clean water. Research by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund reveals that higher food prices increased the number of people living in poverty in the developing world. However, preliminary estimates suggest that the poverty reduction target is likely to be achieved ahead of 2015.

Millennium development goal 5, on improving maternal health, stands alone as the goal that has recorded the least amount of progress to date and it is far from reaching the 2015 target. Improving maternal health is not only a moral obligation, but is financially prudent. The United Nations Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health suggests that maternal health problems result in losses to productivity of up to $15 billion dollars per annum. I would be grateful if the Minister would inform your Lordships’ House about the steps Her Majesty’s Government are taking, along with our international partners, to address the lack of progress in this vital area.

I support the view of the United Nations System Task Team that the successor framework should focus on four key areas: namely, social development, inclusive economic development, environmental sustainability and peace and security.

I have been to Bangladesh. It deserves praise for being on track to achieve millennium development goals 1, 2, 3 and 4, which relate to poverty, primary education, gender equality and child mortality.

The overall number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has fallen. Research by the United Nations Development Programme, the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union and the African Development Bank suggests that. The region is off target in meeting millennium development goal 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, goal 4 on reducing child mortality, goal 5 on improving maternal mortality and goal 6 on combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

I have spoken in your Lordships’ House and elsewhere about the importance of business and trade in the United Kingdom and in overseas countries. More business and trade uplifts people’s standards of life. I have travelled abroad to promote trade.

The change in Africa’s economic fortunes has been remarkable. The continent has even been referred to as “the next Asia” owing to its rapid growth. Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund suggest that seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years will be in Africa: namely, those of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria.

However, many stumbling blocks remain for Africans. Average life expectancy is still only 56 years, child mortality remains high and overall literacy rates are only 67%. Africa’s economic growth is often described as “jobless” because of its failure to create jobs, in particular for the 60% of Africans aged between 15 and 24 who are unemployed.

In order to break the cycle of poverty, individuals need sources of wealth creation such as employment opportunities, access to trade and greater interaction with the private sector. In addition, measures must be taken to combat corruption. The UN System Task Team on the successor framework post-2015 development agenda published a report in June that noted the progress made in areas such as poverty reduction, but highlighted the deficiencies in areas including governance and accountability. It is a credit to Britain that the Prime Minister has been appointed as a co-chair of the high-level panel of eminent persons to advise on the post-2015 development agenda. This will ensure that Britain continues to take the lead on this vital issue.

The progress made through the millennium development goals has transformed the lives of the world’s least fortunate people. We have a moral duty towards these individuals to ensure that a successor framework is created that builds on the existing achievements.

International Development – Question

Lord Sheikh:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that funds allocated to international development are spent in accordance with their objectives.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, the Government are focusing on delivering specific results and better value for money through our programmes. DfID is measuring the results and making them transparent so that the Government can be held to account. The Secretary of State for International Development has also established the Independent Commission for Aid Impact to provide independent assurance that UK aid is being spent properly and is achieving the desired impacts. The commission reports directly to Parliament through the International Development Select Committee.

Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. The Public Accounts Committee in another place found recently that DfID had no systematic or comprehensive approach to quantifying the extent of foreign corruption and was unable to provide an estimate of the scale of leakage. Does the Minister agree that this is not acceptable, and what action are the Government taking to put this right to ensure that they secure value for money?

Baroness Northover: My Lords, it certainly would be unacceptable if this were the case. The report very much reflects the position of the past and takes little account, it seems to me, of the changes made by the coalition. For example, in 2009-10 about 43 per cent of known losses were recovered, whereas over the past year that has risen to 92 per cent. We have also transformed the way in which the department manages its finances so that spending is attached to tangible results, which are being rigorously scrutinised by the new independent aid watchdog that I referred to just now.

International Development Aid – Question

Lord Sheikh:


To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they are taking to focus international development aid on fragile and conflict-affected states.


Baroness Verma: My Lords, focusing UK aid on fragile and conflict-affected states is central to our development efforts and makes a significant contribution to our national security. All UK bilateral and multilateral aid is currently being reviewed, ensuring a greater focus on results and maximising the impact of every pound spent.


Lord Sheikh: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. What discussions has her department had on improving the interface between different government departments to support fragile and conflict-afflicted states so that they do not become a future security risk? Can she also explain what the Government are doing to assist these states in the achievement of the millennium development goals?


Baroness Verma: My Lords, the Government’s strategic defence and security review set out a clear vision of enhanced UK work on upstream conflict prevention. Building on this, DfID, alongside the FCO and MoD, is taking the lead in developing the Government’s new Building Stability Overseas strategy to be published in the spring. This strategy will set out how we will use development, diplomatic and security tools in an integrated approach to tackling conflict and instability overseas. No fragile state has yet achieved a single millennium development goal.