The list of international development projects funded by British aid grows more bizarre – an anti-litter drive in Jordan, a water park in Morocco, a study of coconuts in the Pacific, measuring the carbon footprint of the Dakar rally in Senegal.Only last month, the Foreign Office revealed it had dished out £300million on schemes including a TV game show in Ethiopia, free productions of Shakespeare in Haiti and fish farming in Madagascar.
So Chancellor George Osborne is quite right to launch a root-and-branch review of aid spending to cut waste and ensure funds are directed to the right places.
But unfortunately he will not address the blindingly obvious central problem.
Because Britain is now bound by law to lavish a massive £12billion a year – 0.7 per cent of national income – on foreign aid, the Department for International Development simply can’t find enough worthy projects to spend it on.
With so many areas of British life crying out for cash – cancer drugs, elderly care, affordable housing – isn’t this profligacy just grotesque?