Farmers and foreign aid

Australians are known to lend a hand in times of crisis and uniting to tackle the worst drought on record has been no different.

Charitable givers and politicians alike are also generous towards worthy causes further afield and ready to pool resources to help those in need on a global scale too. 

There have been some calls to redirect all foreign aid and concentrate solely instead on alleviating the suffering of Australian farmers living through the worst drought on record.

But, is this allocation of funds from overseas to Australia misguided?

Bushfires, cyclones, flooding and drought have certainly taken their toll on Australian farmers, but funds received through charitable giving need to be used wisely to ensure Australia is well prepared for potential catastrophic events.

However, if we don’t support neighbouring countries with developing the infrastructure and implementing solid disaster management plans, it will cost more to assist with relief efforts.

After the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in northern Sumatra, Australian began a 10-year partnership with Indonesia focussing on risk reduction which has resulted in better plans for infrastructure, escape routes, warning systems and other practical assistance.

Considering many Australians regularly travel to Indonesia, it can be looked at safeguarding our own country too.

Australians on average donate $350 per person per year however the percentage allocated to international humanitarian aid fell from 39% in 2010 to 31% in 2018. Foreign aid stands at its lowest level since the 1950’s due to Australia’s reduced commitments.

The world is interconnected through travel, work and trade, so to cut foreign aid may seem counterproductive.

Why the calls for a choice when Australia has the means to support developing countries while also supporting Australian farmers? Perhaps it’s a concern for what is happening right here in Australia where citizens are confronted daily by the reality of the suffering caused by drought.