Bureaucracy Delays US Aid for Haiti Reconstruction - AP

A view of Fort National in Port-au-Prince's Bel Air neighborhood six months after the massive Jan. 12 disaster. Photo by: Sophia Paris / UN

Almost nine months since a massive earthquake hit Haiti, the Caribbean country has yet to receive any of the funding pledged by the U.S. for its long-term rehabilitation.

“Not a cent of the [USD]1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived,” The Associated Press reports.

The U.S. aid money for Haiti is still tied up in Washington due to “bureaucracy, disorganization and a lack of urgency,” according to AP.

U.S. President Barack Obama asked Congress in March for USD2.8 billion in emergency aid for Haiti, which includes the USD1.5 billion for long-term reconstruction. But it took the Senate until May and the House until July to pass a supplemental request for the funds, which made USD971 million available but did not specify how or when to spend the money.

“Without that final step, the money remains in the U.S. Treasury,” according to AP.

The authorization bill that stipulates how aid for Haiti will be delivered was pulled by a senator for further study, who AP learned is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

“He is holding the bill because it includes an unnecessary senior Haiti coordinator when we already have one” in U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten, Coburn spokeswoman Becky Bernhardt was quoted by AP as saying.

The bill proposes a new coordinator in Washington who would work with the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator to draft a rebuilding strategy. The position will be paid USD1 million each year over five years.

State Department spokesman Charles Luoma-Overstreet said the department anticipates the money to come in the coming weeks and months. On Sept. 20, the department sent lawmakers a “spending plan” and gave the latter 15 days to review the plan.

“If they fail to act on the plan, the money could be released as soon as specific projects get the OK,” according to AP.

Other donors have not been diligent either in keeping their aid commitments. Only USD686 million of the USD8.75 billion that some 50 other nations and organizations committed for Haiti has reached the Caribbean nation so far, according to AP, stressing that the amount is less than 15 percent of the total funding pledged for 2010-2011. 

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.