I’m all for wealthy countries helping people who are starving in developing countries, however there are a number of worrying trends I’ve spotted whilst travelling that really get under my skin. I wish governments would stand up and stop foreign aid if it is being used in the wrong way – I am a tax payer and do not want other countries wasting my hard earned cash.
The UK has recently pulled their foreign aid out of India, highlighting that the Indian government is investing in a multi-million dollar space program but still ignoring the chronic social problems plaguing the country. Good on em’ I say, why should the UK be funding that?
India should be spending its foreign aid on sorting out its chronic rubbish problem, its infrastructure and its people starving on the streets – until it commits to this then why should we help?
Developed countries pour millions of pounds into developing countries every year, however when foreign tourists visit we are often met with a two tier pricing system charging us double that of domestic tourists. It is an insult as we are paying taxes to finance foreign aid then we are spending our cash in these developing countries and helping their economy, yet we are charged more than domestic tourists to visit tourist sites, even though often these sites have been restored with foreign aid. We tourists are even charged extra on so called toll bridges even though it states clearly that the bridge was built by foreign aid. So essentially, we pay to build it then we pay to use it.
It is obviously very difficult for foreign aid agencies and foreign governments to control how foreign aid is spent once it reaches a developing country – it is too easy for corrupt government officials to stock pile food supplies for themselves, or skim money out of the pot before it actually reaches those in need. I know the theory that the more money that goes in at the top, the more that trickles down to the people in need. I believe that foreign aid should be given with conditions attached and if not met then the donor country should pull their cash out. We are not talking a small amount of money, often tens of millions that could be better spent at home to make sure kids don’t go hungry at school and everyone has plenty of heating during winter to name a few.
Whilst in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia and a so called developing country, we saw more brand spanking new Range Rover’s than we have ever seen in our life. The average wage in Cambodia is $1 a day, so how do people afford these luxury cars?
We also noticed the Lao and Cambodian immigration officials strutting around with brand new iPhone’s, funded by the extra $8 they ask for at the border point from every foreigner that passes through.
Unfortunately the people that suffer the greatest from removing foreign aid are the ones that really need it the most. However, as we saw them suffering now, would it get any worse for them? Surely there must be a better way than simply handing over large sums of money for governments to spend as they wish. Until these countries straighten out their corrupt practices, start using the money as intended and stop ripping off foreign tourists, why don’t the governments in the developed countries stop the aid?