[ View the story "Haiti: 4 years after the quake" on Storify] Haiti: 4 years after the quake Less than 1% of funds pledged went to local non-profits. Who’s to blame for the slow recovery?
AJAMStream· Fri, Jan 10 2014 11:18:32
Hundreds of thousands of people dead. More than half a million displaced. An entire metropolis more than 60 percent destroyed. The earthquake on January 12, 2010 that ravaged southern Haiti sent thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits and foreign governments into the region aimed at providing humanitarian relief. Countries flocked to the Caribbean nation to assist with rescue and recovery, medical and food services and long-term infrastructure development.
The United States is the largest foreign contributor of aid to Haiti, pledging more than $3.6 billion toward relief, recovery, and reconstruction. But the government and many American charity organizations have come under fire for how much of the funding is actually being used.
released in June by the Government Accountability Office found the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is in charge of some of the biggest projects in Haiti, has yet to distribute a large amount of the money.
USAID has only spent 31 percent of the funds allocated and that doesn't include money the report couldn't track. A law requiring the State Department to document the progress of reconstruction programs ended in September 2012 so Congress now lacks information to track spending. Part of those funds (more than $170 million)
went toward an industrial park
and power plant championed by the Clinton Bush Haiti fund. But the plant is located in northern Haiti, 82 miles from the earthquake zone.
Critics also take issue with which organizations are receiving money. The largest recipient of government funding for Haiti's reconstruction has been the U.S.-based companies, more than half in the Washington, D.C., area alone. The
, by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, also found that of the nearly 1,500 contracts awarded by U.S. authorities, less than one percent went to Haitian companies. Meanwhile, progress in Haiti is slow at best. Many of the infrastructure projects USAID had promised have been scaled down or halted.
Since October 2010, Haiti has also faced a
that researchers believe was brought to the island by United Nations aid workers. The disease has killed more than 8,300 people and sickened more than 650,000. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commissioned a study on the epidemic and issued a report that did not determine conclusively how the cholera was introduced to Haiti. Yet an independent analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence that links UN peacekeepers from Nepal as the source.
USAID agency officials say these reports don't provide the full scope of aid provided to Haiti. USAID insists all of the $1.3 billion designated for initial humanitarian relief immediately after the earthquake had been spent. They also pinpoint difficulties working with the Haitian government in acquiring land titles as a factor to why reconstruction plans have been scaled back. Still, the American Red Cross says 90 percent of people
by the earthquake have moved back into communities.
Yet many American charity organizations face mounting
for staff salaries and extravagant living conditions in Haiti. More than 174,000 Haitians are still homeless or in temporary housing and thousands face
. The Stream asks where did the money go and who's to blame?
What do you think? Is more accountability needed to track where U.S. funding for Haiti earthquake relief is going? Is international aid helping or hindering Haiti? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.