SCOTLAND plays a “disproportionately large part” in the UK’s international aid effort, a UK Government Minister has said.

Desmond Swayne, International Development Minister, said yesterday that Scotland was at the “very heart” of aid work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Edinburgh, where he was set to meet volunteers who travelled to Nepal to assist in the earthquake relief, the minister said Scotland wielded “enormous influence” in aid work around the world.

The recent natural disaster in Nepal was one of the most devastating to hit the region, killing almost 9,000 and leaving about 900,000 buildings either damaged or totally destroyed.

More than £4 million was raised in Scotland alone in during the appeal run by the Disasters Emergency Committee, a group of 13 different charities providing emergency supplies such as food, shelter, water and sanitation kits.

The Scottish Government also donated a quarter of a million pounds to the UK-wide appeal, which aimed to bring aid to about 300,000 people.

The UK Government’s Department for International Development, which has one of its joint headquarters in East Kilbride, works separately from the Scottish Government’s initiative, looking at ways to grow economies in poorer nations.

The Scottish Government currently operate its own £9m International Development Fund, which is focused on Bangladesh, Malawi, Pakistan, India and sub-Saharan nations Tanzania, Rwanda and Zambia.

During his visit to Scotland, Swayne heaped praise on the “hundreds of aid workers, fire-fighters and medics” from Scotland who assisted in the relief work, adding that Scottish charities spearheaded the effort.

“Scotland is integral to everything we do,” the minister said. “We wield enormous influence in this very important agenda to the world here and now, and Scotland is at the very heart of that.”

Christian Aid was one of several groups that held their own funding drives, raising money for the disaster-stricken country through mountain climbs, sales and lunches.

Individuals were also heavily involved in the fundraising, including Sareta Puri, whose father opened the first Nepalese restaurant in Scotland. She managed to raise several thousand pounds by hosting dinner clubs with meals cooked to her father’s recipes.

The government minister also acknowledged the impact of the Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh a decade ago, in which around 250,000 people took to the streets of the capital. The march coincided with the G8 summit which was being held in Gleneagles at the time.

Talking of the UK’s growing influence in worldwide aid projects, Swayne said: “I trace it to 10 years ago, all those people on the streets of Edinburgh, 250,000 people, demanding that poverty be made history. Within days, the G8 had agreed to implement the 0.7 per cent target. And we took that seriously, it wasn’t just lip service.”

Humza Yousaf, Scotland's Minister for Europe and International Development, said: “This government is committed to playing its role in addressing the challenges faced by our world, both at home and overseas.

"Our international development work helps fulfil the Scottish Government’s role as a good global citizen and, most importantly, it helps some of the world’s most vulnerable people."