Killen: Haiti Should Take Charge of its Development

The Haitian government, though plagued with corruption, should not be left out in the process of rebuilding the quake-hit nation, an official of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development argues.

The principle of local ownership is based on objective assessments of “what works – and what doesn’t and drawn from experience in the field,” Brenda Killen writes in a blog in response to an opinion piece by Joel Brinkley published by the International Herald Tribune. In that op-ed, Brinkley argued: “If the world wants to help Haiti, aid officials should put aside that Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The donors should decide what to do with their money.”

Killen said: “[E]ven where systems are weak and there is corruption and inefficiency, ownership is key to uncovering and reversing this.”

And Haiti is no exception to this.

“[E]arthquake or not, is Haiti in a position to be able to direct all international aid resources through its own government systems? Absolutely not. On this we agree. But does this mean we should not be working with the Haitians? Or does it mean we should be working to help them get to a point where aid can eventually go through Haiti’s national systems? We believe the answer is the latter. Absolutely, we should and we must,” says Killen, who heads the OECD division working on aid effectiveness.

Donors, instead, should be helping Haiti build the capacity of local institutions to help combat corruption, Killen says.

“At the heart of the issue is the question of how to combat corruption. Punishing a crime requires legal institutions. Should foreign charities or donor governments run these too? Rather than standing on the high moral ground and telling Haitians what they must do, shouldn’t we be helping Haiti to build those institutions,” Killen asks.

About the author

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    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.