Haitians Cast Doubt on Foreign Aid's Role in Quake Recovery

Haitians displaced by the January 2010 earthquake gather at a tent camp in Port-au-Prince. Many of them are skeptical that the massive foreign aid can easy poverty in the country. Photo by: Logan Abassi / UN

Despite billions of dollars in aid pledges for post-quake rebuilding, Haiti still lays in ruins, with many Haitians skeptical that the massive foreign aid can ease poverty in the Caribbean nation.

“The only people making money in Haiti are the NGOs [non-governmental organizations] who use the Haitian people to raise money and pay for their big cars,” Clenor Fleurent, a Haitian barber, told The Washington Post. “With my own eyes I don’t see progress. I don’t see anything.”

Less than 5 percent of the rubble has so far been cleared, while a million Haitians are still homeless a year after the disaster, The Associated Press reports. A cholera outbreak in the quake-hit nation has also claimed more than 3,600 lives, and the outcome of November’s presidential election is being contested.

Humanitarian activist and actor Sean Penn has blamed the slow disbursement of aid pledges for the sluggish recovery efforts in Haiti.

“How would it be if we were to do a redo of the donors conference, with caveats?” Penn, who runs a 55,000-person tent camp outside Port-au-Prince, was quoted by Politics Daily as saying in a Jan. 10 discussion on Haiti’s rehabilitation at the Brookings Institution. “A conference which would allow the Haitian government and the Haitian people to hold donor nations’ feet to the fire by requiring not cash – but tangible components of reconstruction?”

Of the USD2.01 billion pledged by 55 public donors for recovery activities in quake-ravaged Haiti in 2010, some USD1.28 billion, or 63.6 percent, has so far been disbursed, a new analysis by the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti reveals.

>> UN Report: In 2010, Public Donors Disbursed USD1.28B for Haitian Rebuilding

Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has expressed the same disappointment over the slow delivery of Haitian aid commitments, attributing it to the uncertainty of who will succeed outgoing President Rene Preval.

“Perhaps some donors say, ‘Let’s wait until we know exactly who will be there for the next five years,’” AP quoted Bellerive as saying.

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.