Monday, July 12, 2010

Hope for Haiti?

This past weekend, I got together with some Haitian friends to size up our experience with the Haitian reconstruction effort. I met these friends shortly after the devastating earthquake of January 12, and we have served as a Board of Advisers of sorts for each other; we've provided moral support and recruited each other into our various projects for Haiti. We've grown quite close over the last few months -- I suppose tragedy has a way of bringing people together. But I was still surprised when we all seemed to share the same sentiment: Haitians have become disillusioned with the reconstruction process. Turns out our experience is more that just anecdotal. Despite the record pledges for aid to Haiti--pledges that both Clintons had a hand in organizing-- the reality on the ground is not much different than it was a few months ago.
In a recent article summing up the relative failure of reconstruction, the author cites the following statistics:
  • Amount pledged for Haiti's reconstruction over the following 18 months at the March 31 UN conference: $5,300,000,000
  • Percentage of this amount that has been paid: 1.9
  • Amount of pledged U.S. bilateral search and rescue assistance to Haiti that was delivered in the wake of the earthquake: $0
  • Value of aid the French government has promised Haiti through pledged contributions to UN agencies, NGOS and the Red Cross: $180 million
  • Quantity of this aid that has been delivered: $0
  • Estimated number of Haitians who remain homeless after the earthquake: 1,500,000
  • Amount that has been collected for Haiti relief by U.S. charities: $1,300,000,000
  • Number of Haitians without even tents or tarps for shelter: 232,130
Less than 2 % of international funds pledged for Haiti has actually made its way to the island? None of the US bilateral aid or French support through the UN or NGOs has been disbursed? The international community made many promises for a "New Haiti" that would provide the institutions and resources the Haitian people so desperately need to succeed. But that is not possible without the pledged funding. There were also promises that the Haitian voice would not be lost; Haitians living on the island and throughout the diaspora were to play a central role in the rebuilding process. These promises are not materializing and Haitians are losing hope. Fast.


Hope Lewis said...

Shameful! Thank you for keeping the pressure and the spotlight on, Marjorie. Among other things, we all must hold our own governments accountable for their lack of action and empty promises.

Marjorie Florestal said...

Thanks hope. I agree we need to find a mechanism for keeping our governments accountable. It is frustrating. When the media leaves, it's all too easy to forget the suffering, and left to its own devices governments will often reproduce the same old failed policies. Here's to Change We Can Believe In!