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Outrage at £310k Lottery money for pygmies

June 22, 2009

Daniel Jones

Sunday People

21 June 2009

 

Lottery chiefs were last night under fire for ignoring struggling Brits while giving millions to obscure foreign causes - including £310,000 to help African pygmies make pottery.

 

Your hard-earned cash will go to Rwanda's Twa tribe to "develop their traditional skills" with clay.

 

Another £467,000 is being paid to teach beekeeping in Kenya.

 

And just under £500,000 has been earmarked for yak-herders in Tibet - to boost their public relations profile.

 

The grants come from the £70million dished out overseas by the Big Lottery Fund since its international programme was launched in December 2006.

 

But last night watchdogs and MPs accused lotto chiefs of snubbing the needs of UK good causes.

 

Fund papers - handed to The People under freedom of information laws - show the pygmy project is run by Gloucestershire-based charity Forest Peoples Programme to boost the tribe's "self-confidence and social standing".

 

The £467,000 given to Kenyan villagers to keep bees - run by Gateshead-based charity Traidcraft Exchange - is designed to encourage exports in the east African state.

 

Tibetan herders were given nearly £500,000 at the start of 2008 - much of it for improving their image and for lobbying.

 

Cambridge-based Fauna and Flora International say the cash will let herders "demonstrate their abilities to government" - basically PR.

 

Almost £10,000 has gone to a treegrowing project in the Philippines.

 

The Zoological Society of London hope to "rehabilitate" shrinking mangrove forests in south-east Asia. And about £500,000 has been given to Sport UK to use football to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among youngsters in South Africa, where the killer virus is rampant.

 

But Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The lottery was set up to support arts, sport, heritage and charities.

 

"It will be galling for lottery players to find their money is going to things like Tibetan herders instead of these good causes."

 

And Matthew Elliott, of the watchdog TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "The fund must not neglect British projects at the expense of politically correct foreign initiatives."

 

The Big Lottery Fund replaced the Community Fund, which was discredited after a string of controversial awards - including £420,000 to help Peruvians breed fatter guinea pigs to eat.

 

daniel.jones@people.co.uk

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