Minister checks on aid programme
A junior minister is to see first hand how Ireland's overseas aid programme has improved the lives of some of the world's poorest families.
Joe Costello has begun a two-week visit to Tanzania, South Africa and Mozambique where he will also explore ways of helping the countries grow their economies so they no longer depend on aid.
He said Ireland's aid programme is internationally recognised as one of the best in the world.
"Our aid is rigorously focused on reducing poverty, eradicating hunger, helping children to survive their first year and go to school, and ensuring that families have food to eat and clean water to drink," said Mr Costello, minister for trade and development.
"The Irish people, through Irish Aid, are making a difference in the lives of some of the world's poorest people.
"However, we also need to look to a future after aid and how to grow trade between Ireland and Africa as the lasting solution for Africa's problems is growing the domestic economy."
In Tanzania, Mr Costello will visit health centres and schools to see how Ireland's support for health, education and nutrition programmes is making a difference on the ground. He will also launch a milk dairy market hub and visit a rural electrification project operated by ESBI.
The minister will later host a series meetings with members of the Irish and South African business communities in Johannesburg before celebrating St Patrick's Day in Cape Town, where Table Mountain is among the iconic landmarks around the world turning green for the day.
And in Mozambique, Mr Costello will see how taxpayers money donated through Irish Aid has supported the poorest families to access education, basic healthcare and improve their livelihoods.
As part of Ireland's EU Presidency the minister will also chair the EU-Southern African Development Community, a political and economic association of 15 countries in the region, and will represent the EU High Representative in the discussion on the political situation in Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.