In Haiti, Is Foreign Aid Doing More Harm Than Good?

Nearly a year after the devastating earthquake struck Haiti, rehabilitating the Caribbean nation remains a struggle. Dependence on foreign aid and disregard for Haitians’ desire for direct participation in rebuilding their nation are only making the situation worse, a United Nations official says.

For Michele Montas, a Haitian serving as a special adviser to the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, letting Haitians take the lead in rehabilitating their nation is “a lost battle.”

“I’m working with a lot of sophisticated people but who have absolutely no notions of what this country is about,” she was quoted by Slate as saying. “I work at the U.N., and every day I have to go to meetings, I’m the only Haitian there, and I have to tell them, ‘Your perception is not right.’ I feel that it is a lost battle.”

Foreign non-governmental organizations have been spearheading rehabilitation efforts in Haiti.

“There is a vicious paradigm to it: If everything is OK, the NGO has no mission. Maybe that begs some questions,” said Georges Sassine, a businessman and president of the Haitian Association of Industrialists. “We have to produce a lot more for ourselves. The more we do, the less we will need NGOs.”

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.