World Cup 2010 threatens community projects

20th November 2009

Rising flight costs caused by 2010 World Cup has caused a significant drop in the number of volunteers for community projects

The 2010 World Cup is having a negative impact on community projects in host country South Africa, say volunteering organisations.

Rising costs during the event, primarily caused by increased flight prices for June and July 2010, has caused a significant number of volunteers to change their dates or drop out of aid-reliant projects in the country.

Global Vision International (GVI), which currently has 17 volunteer-based projects in South Africa, acknowledges that hosting the World Cup will bring huge benefits to South Africa but says there will also be a short-term loss of support to many projects and that this could have long-term consequences as much of the funding for these projects is generated by volunteer participation.

GVI projects in South Africa include work in orphanages, teaching and conservation. A spokesperson for GVI said that although it is hard to quantify exactly how many people have been deterred by the increased cost, they currently have about 100 volunteers booked on projects for the South African summer period when they would normally expect figures closer to 200.

African Conservation Experience (ACE), a smaller organisation that has been specialising in environmental projects in Southern Africa for 10 years, was initially excited about the positive impact the event could have on the country.

“Unfortunately the World Cup has resulted in a significant drop in volunteers being able to support conservation projects we work with due to the cost of flights, and accommodation,” says UK Operations Manager Alexia Massey.

“Flight costs are extortionate, well over £1000 during most of the World Cup period,” says Massey. And flights are not the only thing adding to overheads, with local businesses using the World Cup as an opportunity to increase profits: “A guest house we regularly use has quadrupled its cost,” says Massey.

GVI is hoping airlines will help their projects survive the Cup. “We have been looking to find reasonably priced seats to South Africa for volunteers during the World Cup, but have been disappointed following initial enquiries to airlines flying from the UK and North America,” says a spokesman.

“It would be fantastic if an airline would subsidise flights for GVI volunteers demonstrating their commitment to South Africa by enabling the continuation of the critical humanitarian and conservation work GVI conducts.”

Massey agrees that this would help South Africa benefit from the event. “To ensure viable ongoing support to our conservation projects, a continuous flow of volunteers is essential and the World Cup is putting this in jeopardy,” she says. “We are torn between the excitement of showing South Africa in a new light with the World Cup, and the impact it is having on our conservation projects and volunteers.”

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