Haiti 10 years later: What happened to the billions pledged to help the people of Haiti?
Apr 22, · Haiti's government has estimated losses from the quake to be approximately $8 billion. Economists and world bodies have estimated the cost of rebuilding at between $8 billion . Jan 20, · When Haiti was rocked by an earthquake on Jan. 12, , images of despair and damage struck a chord with people around the world. American journalist .
Americans texted tens of millions of dollars in donations and governments gave billions, but five years after an earthquake left corpses and rubble piled across Haiti, 85, people still live in crude displacement camps and many more in deplorable conditions. The disconnect between the massive amount how to cover blue under eye circles private and public how much was donated to haiti and the poverty, disease and homelessness that still plague the country raises a question that critics say is too difficult to answer: Where did all that money go?
In Coralia this week, father of two Serafin Jean Rose, 33, said he has benefited from the American dollars that have poured in since Jan. After his home was destroyed, he was moved to one of the tent camps. A year ago, they were given enough waz to move out and build a tin now.
He works as a carpenter and has been able to feed his family of four. Ninety-five percent of the 1. At leastpeople are in new hillside slums, known as Canaan-Jerusalem, where there are wooden and tin homes but no running water, electricity or sanitation yet. A high-profile celebrity-backed charity is being probed for its use of funds, and some U. In the immediate aftermath of the 7. At a donors conference in New York three months after Port-au-Prince and much of the south was wrecked, nations from around the globe, led by the United States, pledged billions more for the short juch long term — how to ask for a lower interest rate be managed by a commission co-chaired by Bill Clinton and the Haitian prime minister.
The U. Some global development analysts say that the spending structure — with the vast majority of money being funneled through foreign contractors instead of the Haitian government how much was donated to haiti local outfits — has built-in inefficiencies, compounded by a lack of accountability and transparency.
Agency for International Development, which oversees the aid program, says using experienced Beltway-based firms that could move quickly in the beginning was a necessity, but acknowledges that more should go to local entities. The new goal is to put 17 percent of funding in Haitian hands.
The American companies relied on a maze of subcontractors, increasing overhead and obscuring whether the money was being spent wisely, critics said. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. Still, there is no doubt many lives were saved and good work was done, under daunting circumstances and in the face haitl overwhelming destruction. Tom Adams, the State Department's special coordinator for Haiti, conceded "it has been a challenge to implement certain parts of our assistance package," but pointed to progress in job creation, health, security and agriculture.
The housing program can hardly be branded a success, though. It's put up about so far. In the meantime, there are still 85, people in displacement camps — half of which did not have latrines, according to a UN report. Development plans for Port-au-Prince meant some downtown renters were evicted, their buildings demolished, earlier this year.
Audits of other contracts have also highlighted problems with small projects. Michel Hospital. Yele dissolved in amid questions about its bookkeeping and payouts, and the New York attorney general's office said this week it is still investigating the group's finances.
That money would have been spent very, very quickly," Katz said. She started this role in December, Connor is responsible for reporting and writing breaking news, features and enterprise stories for NBCNews. Connor joined NBC News from the New York Daily News, where she was a senior writer covering a broad range of news and supervising the health and immigration beats.
Prior to that she was an assistant city editor who oversaw breaking what to do in anchorage in september and the courts and entertainment beats. She lives in Brooklyn, N. Rappleye is a reporter with the Investigative Unit at NBC News, covering immigration, criminal justice and human rights issues. Her award-winning work mch coverage of the Oklahoma tornadoes, the U. IE 11 is not supported.
Hauti an optimal fonated visit our site on another browser. News Opinion World Business Tech. Share this —. Follow NBC News. Tracy Connor. Hannah Rappleye. Erika Angulo.
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Jan 13, · Then there's the troubling case of Fugees rapper Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti charity, which took in $16 million in on the strength of his star-power, and spent more than $4 million . Jan 12, · In fact, of the $ billion allocated to Haitian Rebuilding and Relief in by the US Congress, according to the US Government Accountability Office (or GAO), only $ million had been.
That's where the island's shore meets the rest of the world. And the best place for that is here at the seaport in the nation's capital: Port-au-Prince, near the earthquake's epicenter. There, at this moment, a gigantic "supermaritime" cargo ship called the Sarine is off-loading more than five metric tons of rice that has just arrived from Miami.
If you think of the rice as post-earthquake assistance money - the individual grains as donated dollars - you might get some idea about what's happened since the earthquake of Jan. Not to mention a sense of where the individual rice grains or the dollars have gone. And, like the grains of rice aboard, the dollars mount into the hundreds of millions; even billions.
Still, somehow, no one seems quite sure precisely how many grains - or dollars - we're talking about. The accounting seems to have a sliding scale that can move hundreds of millions of dollars one way or another.
At the time of publication, President Bill Clinton, the UN Special Envoy to Haiti and the co-chair of overseeing the nation's re-construction for the last two years, hasn't responded to repeated requests by GlobalPost regarding specific aid and cash donation figures. Where those billions went following the 7. Inside of the recovery effort, however, are unquestionable successes along with the failures. And, to be fair, because the money came in so quickly and in such great volume, much of it has been wasted or lost like so much rice spilling on the docks.
Or stolen, like the sacks of rice from here which will end up in Haiti's black market for food. The situation grows complicated And the metaphor here of this crane off-loading rice by the metric ton packs a still larger and more complex metaphor, according to aid experts, about this country's history along a still-active fault line of aid, politics and blame in the aftermath of the quake.
As for this specific ship, the Sarine, it has a double-steel hull and is roughly feet long. And now, pulled up to the quay in Port-au-Prince, the "grabbing box" from a huge off-load crane reaches down into the vessel's hold, and, like the hand of God, lifts another half-ton or so of rice out - hundreds of thousands of individual grains of rice.
Then the loose rice is dumped into a white, V-shaped steel hopper whose nozzle sits inside a small hut on the Port-au-Prince waterfront. After that - using a sewing machine - the top of each bag is sealed. As I watch, over and over - bag after bag after bag - a man running the V-shaped hopper turns to me.
He rubs his belly. The man flashes a grin back, and shrugs. But I'm not that kind of hungry. The rice bags move from the factory along an assembly line to waiting trucks which will travel deeper into Haiti to feed a nation still suffering from hunger on a vast scale.
But the economy of rice in Haiti says everything about the condition the country is in. The US government subsidizes and "donates" ton after ton of rice in Haiti and in so doing has through the last several decades completely undercut Haitian rice farmers and left them destitute and migrating into cities where they live in hovels that were destroyed by the quake. As recently as the early s, Haiti was producing just about all of its own rice.
Now more than 60 percent is imported from the US, making it the fourth largest recipient of American rice exports in the world. That was before the quake and now with donated rice coming in as well, Haiti is even more awash in rice while American agribusiness makes billions of dollars every year through generous government subsidies.
There is perhaps some bitter irony here that the subsidies were promoted in large part by President Clinton to help his home state of Arkansas, the largest rice producing state in the US, thereby crippling a sector of the economy in Haiti where Clinton has worked so tirelessly to help with the recovery. Cohen was part of a team at Oxfam America that this week delivered a scathing report on how reconstruction in Haiti was proceeding at a "snail's pace," leaving half a million Haitians still homeless two years after the quake.
It urged the Haitian government and donor countries to accelerate the delivery of funds for reconstruction.
It applauded the initial emergency relief effort, but said the Haitian government and donor countries have failed to come up with a coordinated strategy to rebuild the country and house the more than , people still living in tents and under tarpaulins without access to running water, a toilet or a doctor. According to recently published reports by Oxfam, the UN, the US Government Accountability Office and international aid experts interviewed by GlobalPost, billions of dollars of aid were pledged to Haiti's reconstruction, but promises of funding have not translated into money on the ground.
Officials heading up USAID's efforts in Haiti say they are frustrated by the political and practical realities that slow the pace of reconstruction. They point to costly and painful failures such as the lack of preparedness for the cholera outbreak which still looms over Haiti.
It requires Haitians to take ownership of fixing their own country and their own problems with the support of the international community and increasingly private investment. Haiti is a formerly French colonial island nation occupying a little less than half of the Caribbean island originally called Hispanola the other half of the island, the Dominican Republic, is a former Spanish colony.
Haiti's capital and gravitational center, Port-au-Prince, is said to be named for the French sailing ship, Prince , which pulled into the island's harbor in The island soon became a critical stop in the slave trade in the Americas, with Port-au-Prince being one of the most popular hubs.
The colonial overseers grew rich, exporting sugar and coffee to the world. Because of this history of slavery and repression, some Haitians believe their island is cursed. By , and due somewhat to the slave trade - not to mention a wide-ranging naval war between Britain and France - a British ship called the HMS Hankey , sailing out of West Africa, arrived in Port-au-Prince, carrying with it some West Africans and some British citizens who had been unsuccessful in colonizing a West African island called Bulama.
They were also carrying something new. It was ultimately discovered to be a virus called Yellow Fever, and Haiti was its first New World landfall. The virus killed thousands around Port-au-Prince before the ship sailed for Philadelphia to join a convoy for safe passage back to London. At Philadelphia, Benjamin Rush, a noted physician of the age, surmised the boat carried some new form of "pestilence" after more then 10, Philadelphians died within weeks; he ultimately ordered the ship burned to the water line during its trip home.
This is the star-crossed history of Haiti. It is a nation blessed by location: it has rich farming soils, a lovely and temperate tropical climate and a stunningly resourceful island populace. It has periods of prosperity and hope that are recent enough for many Port-au-Prince residents - and the millions who live in the diaspora - to remember a time when it was a playground for rich tourists and when it confidently produced most of the food it ate. But its geographic location makes Haiti uniquely prone to cataclysms such as tropical storms and hurricanes, while what is known in geological terms as the "Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system," a ragged edge that runs along the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates, has triggered a string of earthquakes over the centuries.
Still, perhaps owing to the island's difficult past, it remains one of the most hopeful places imaginable. Most of the people living there have historically had very little in the way of resources, and have been ruled and controlled by a small wealthy few, which means any good that comes non-wealthy Haitians' way tends to be celebrated.
By , due to several slave uprisings, the poor natives overthrew French rule and became the first free nation in Latin America. Like other new democratic successes of the Atlantic World, the Haitians discovered self-determination. Haiti created home-grown problems, too: despots, self-interested rulers and military coups.
Eventually people with names like Duvalier and Aristide and Cedras would become world famous for a power-lust and greed that has defined Haitian leadership. On three occasions in the last century, the US military intervened, including the 20, US troops deployed in And along with political upheaval came regular hurricanes, mudslides and earthquakes, with international aid often "pledged" but few Haitians ever really seeing it.
This exploitation by mercantile forces of seemingly beneficent empires combined with the squandering of aid amid a culture of corruption is the very history of the country, and the contemporary reality in which Haiti finds itself. In the year following the earthquake, things were no different. Today as the guys with the green eyeshades get more deeply involved, it becomes clear that in the wake of the Haitian earthquake of the US government began to pay itself back for its humanitarian graciousness as much as it actually helped the people of Haiti.
Expanding the picture doesn't change it. Not that the people of Haiti didn't benefit from all this money and assistance. But, really, over the last two years, the effort to assist post-earthquake Haiti has mostly benefited - or at least subsidized - the aid and relief institutions and private corporations that nominated themselves to help Haiti in its based time of need. The money was clearly intended for Haiti, but it ended up returning to the same place it came from.
In a land sometimes referred to as "The Republic of NGOs," the money that does stay in Haiti often fuels the NGO crowd's expensive taste for the aesthetic of international aid. And if you really want to see the face of humanitarian spending post-earthquake in Haiti - the financial clout of the NGOs - there's only one place to go: the Toyota dealership in Port-au-Prince. As with any cataclysm or war zone, a white Toyota Land Cruiser is perhaps the ultimate symbol of international interventional power.
And in and around Port-au-Prince, the vehicles are omnipresent. At the dealership, a modern and well-tended building on the city's airport road with mirrored-glass windows from floor to ceiling and a perfectly buffed showroom floor. Inside the dealership, we finally run into nice woman in some sort of managerial position, don't use my name, she asks.
We ask her how sales have been. But, you know what? A lot come from Gibraltar, too. Loaded off cargo ships that the NGOs bring for themselves. You can tell those, they say Gibraltar on the back, sort of near the license plate. I'd say - here? The woman is leaning against a desk in the sales office. But, you know, for all of the Land Cruisers in Haiti now, we also do the maintenance and repairs, if they get in accidents we fix them. If you pay the taxes, you can just sell the car.
She disappears into an outlying office, then returns a minute later. But, you know, right after the earthquake, for several months, we were probably selling that many Land Cruisers every month.
Maybe twice that many. I start doing the math in my head. And that's a conservative estimate. The woman sees me starting to do the math. She knows this was probably not the right thing to say. After all, if the NGOs figure out that she's being disloyal, they might not use the dealership anymore. And as the only dealership in the country, maybe all the Land Cruisers would begin to come from Gibraltar.
In the world of post-earthquake Haiti, it's the equivalent of killing a goose laying golden eggs. She doesn't want to talk anymore. In so many gentle ways, she suggests our time together is over. As I leave the dealership, I can't help thinking about all the rice being off-loaded from the Sarine and the money behind it, getting there to help the people of Haiti. Some does appear to get spilled, a little bit, and some of it goes into the bellies and lives of the Haitians that need it so badly.
But at least, after a week on the ground in this beautiful, star-crossed, and hopeful island nation, now we know a little better where all that money went - or never got to at all. Chrome Safari Continue. Be the first to know. Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.
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