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"Smarter Aid, not more Aid!"

Foreign Aid: Upside Down; Inside Out, & Roundabout!

Almost every day Cambodia has conferences and workshops, ostensibly to promote development for the poor, but always senior officials and experts take pride of place to expound their wisdom down from upon high. The “Sage on the Stage!”

Just now, today, I received a call from development expert. “Our donor has some money.  We stand a good chance of getting it.  We have an idea, only we need your help...... to find the beneficiaries!”

And this message will be typical of many like it in every country where overseas aid and development money goes out to “Calls for Proposals”.

Cows End Poverty - Maybe?

Kan Srey Oun, like many children in Cambodia proudly entrusted with looking after her family's cow.

If Northumberland’s famous Chillingham wild cattle lived in Cambodia, they would be long gone. Sadly few people would have appreciated such beautiful unique creatures beyond their meat.  Cambodia may possibly have a distant bovine cousin of the Chillingham cattle, called the Kouprey, but this has not been spotted since 1957.

The Kouprey © WWF / Helmut Diller
Cows, however do play an important part in Cambodia’s development, especially for the rural poorest.  I qualify that by saying that they can play such a role, provided the modern-day version of “rustlers” don’t have their way, as often as they do. And if good sense had prevailed, the country’s tourist industry would have gained lucrative income from the Kouprey, as indeed it could now – from elephants; tigers; sun-bears and so many other fine creatures endangered from poaching and loss of habitat for agro-industrial concessions.

More to Cambodian Culture than Angkor Wat

Here is the slightly fuller version of the article published in the Khmer Times, with more scholarly and  pointed references.  Also below is a second photograph and caption.

 The Putaing Community Social Enterprise Group decided to revive Bunong Song and Dance for extra income from performing at traditional ceremonies and for eco-tourism visitors.

More to Cambodian Culture than Angkor Wat

Cambodia can justifiably take great pride in Angkor Wat and its classic dance led by its graceful Apsaras.

Yet there is far more to Cambodian culture, to be just as proud about, and not just to impress or attract foreign visitors. All Cambodians should appreciate and enjoy their compatriots’ heritage and culture.