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Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello visits Ethiopia

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Africa, 2012

The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., begins a five-day visit to Ethiopia on Monday (23 January) to see the impact of Ireland’s development programme.

Minister Costello will visit schools, health centres and agriculture projects which are supported by Ireland and targeted at the poorest communities in Ethiopia.

Minister Costello will visit Tigray in the north of the country, where Ireland supports a programme to provide cash or food in return for vital environmental works which improve agricultural productivity.  The programme is instrumental in protecting the lives of over 7.5 million people, who otherwise would be at risk of hunger.  Speaking ahead of his visit, the Minister said:

“I look forward to seeing the impact of Ireland’s work in Ethiopia over the coming days. The Irish Aid programme in Ethiopia is focused on tackling hunger and improving the provision of health services to the poorest communities.

Our partnership with Ethiopia has contributed to remarkable progress over recent years:  an additional four million children are now in primary school, compared to five years ago, while the risk of children dying before their fifth birthday has halved since 2000.

The environmental work which Ireland supports in Tigray has not only helped to protect  7.5 million people from hunger, it has supported the building of thousands of terraces and small dams which conserve water and soil and improve the productivity of the land, ensuring that farmers’ yields are improved.

These are long-term, sustainable results which ensure that vulnerable communities can build a better future for their children. Support for agriculture is particularly important in a country where 85% of the population live in rural areas. ”

Minister Costello will also meet the Country Directors of Irish aid agencies including Concern, Goal, Trócaire and Self Help Africa, which receive substantial funding from Irish Aid to support their work in Ethiopia.

During his visit, Minister Costello will also attend the African Union Summit in the capital, Addis Ababa, where he will meet senior African politicians to further develop the strong relations that Ireland has with African nations.

Minister Costello will also meet with several Ministers from African States to lobby for support for Ireland’s candidature for the United Nations Human Rights Council.  The Minister said:

“I will be attending the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, an important annual gathering of African leaders. This will provide me with an opportunity to press Ireland’s case with our African friends for our election to the UN Human Rights Council.

“This is the first time that Ireland has sought election to the Human Rights Council. Given Ireland’s strong record in working to improve human rights and the commitment of this Government to tackling human rights abuses around the globe, membership of the Council would provide us with a strong platform to further our work in this crucial area.