EU Aid: where development goes to die

The Telegraph has a great piece lambasting the spending of the European Development Fund, an entity “managed by the notoriously spendthrift EuropeAid and has – it is fair to say – not covered itself in glory.”

Here are some of the projects that European tax money supported:

“Officials at the EDF have somehow contrived to spend thousands of pounds on trapeze lessons, a study on the development of the Pacific Coconut, flying a gamut of officials from across Oceania to a renewable energy conference in Aruba (no, really), supporting the work of the EU’s press operation in Jamaica, and a study into the ‘youth perceptions, attitudes and views towards EU development policy’ in Zimbabwe.”

Well, at least the last study on the list seems vital.  Pushing back the frontiers of science…


Great Britain has also done its fair share of funding questionable aid projects. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. “£13,500 on measuring the carbon footprint of the Dakar off-road rally in Bolivia
  2. £4,757 to promote Moldova fashion industry
  3. £970 to promote ‘safe and responsible use of Facebook’
  4. £6,000.72 on anti-littering campaign in Jordan
  5. £3,400 to help find female mates for endangered fish in Madagascar”

Obviously not huge sums of money,  but it does make you wonder how well they are spending the rest of their budgets.  The Telegraph article is titled “Britain spends on foreign aid like a drunk at closing time” and notes that “in a Government supposedly wracked by austerity, officials at the Department for International Development (Dfid) had to spend £3.7 billion in just eight weeks.”

We are sending more than kids back to Central America

In the “truth is stranger than fiction” category, it turns out that the US is also shipping burros to Guatemala.  The Bureau of Land Management is in charge of dealing with wild horses and burros in the US.  Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society, argues that instead of putting into place a feasible plan of dealing with fertility issues in these wild populations, the government has decided it’s easier to just ship them to Central America.

Pacelle, for one, is not amused.  He notes that the program is “at odds with the provisions of the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act, which requires that the BLM’s first priority has to be the humane treatment of wild burros in their care.”

He also sensibly adds that “Guatemala has burros of its own, and does not need shipments of burros compliments of the BLM.”  I’ve read many cases of odd foreign aid practices over the years, but this is one of the strangest.  Or maybe it’s not foreign aid.  Perhaps we are selling the burros to cover the cost of their airfare!