Much fuss is being made in the British parliament over foreign aid.
The current level is 0.5 percent of gross national income. While the government wants to keep this level, the opposition is demanding an increase to 0.7 percent. To give you an idea of the sums involved, 0.7 percent is worth more than £14 billion. (That’s a real British billion, not a fake, American billion.)
But nowhere do we see anything about the recipients of this large sum of money. Let us take a look. The top five countries receiving UK aid are Pakistan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Yemen and Nigeria.
Pakistan is one of the richest countries in Asia. But many Pakistanis, with no basic human rights, are reduced to begging in the streets. For most people, especially women and children, poverty is a fact of life.
With more than 112 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous nation in Africa after Nigeria, and the fastest growing economy in the region. However, it is also one of the poorest, with a per capita income of $850, that’s per year.
Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. Poverty makes no distinction between urban and rural areas. The poverty line is 70 Afghanis a day.
This is equivalent to just 1 U.S. dollar.
Yemen has large oil and gas reserves. But, even though there is no shortage of agricultural land, Yemen is one of the poorest of the world’s low-income countries. Some 80 percent of the population lives in poverty.
Nigeria has the unenviable distinction of being the poverty capital of the world. Nearly 87 million people, that’s about 50% of the population, live in abject poverty. The Nigerian’s own National Bureau of Statistics reports that 39.1 percent of Nigerians live below the international poverty line of just $1.90 per day.
And, just for comparison, we look at two countries not receiving the UK’s aid, Israel and the United States.
We in Israel are not doing too well. An OECD report issued in 2016 ranks Israel as having the highest rate of poverty among its members. Approximately 21 percent of Israelis were found to be living under the poverty line which stood at 5,216 shekels per month for a couple. The average among OECD countries is a poverty rate of 11 percent of the population.
Among Israel’s poor are, of course, Ultra-Orthodox Jews who choose not to work. Israeli Arabs do not fare too well, but a recent report has shown that poverty in Arab families has improved by nearly 10% in the last decade.
US federal poverty level (FPL) for a family of two is $17,420 per year.
The poverty rate for 2020 averaged out at 9.2 percent. America being America, white people came in at 6.6 percent, Hispanic people at 13.8 percent and Black people at 15.2 percent.
Who Gets the Money?
So, we now know where the UK’s hard-earned cash is going, but we don’t know who is getting it. Is foreign aid going to the poor, starving, family living in a mud hut or is it going to maintain the lifestyle of the few despotic leaders who are doing nothing to improve the lives of their countrymen?
Is it buying much-needed food and medicine or is it paying for wine (only the best), women (the best money can buy) and song (the best things in life are free)?