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Mis-management of US funding for Haiti

P-au-P., 17 Aug. 2012 [AlterPresse] --- A lack of transparency by the United States authorities in the allocation of funds to humanitarian organisations in Haiti has exposed serious flaws in the management of US taxpayer’s money, according to an article published on 24 July this year by the The Miami Herald.

Trenton Daniel and Martha Mendoza, the AP reporters who wrote the article, compiled the piece as part of an investigative report into US aid to Haiti under a Freedom of Information Act request, pulling data from the US development Agency, USAID and the US State Department.

Their research revealed a lack of access to clear details showing which organisations receive US funding and the ways in which these organisations spend this money.

In an interview with Alterpresse, Mendoza highlighted the overuse by US authorities, notably USAID, of the “off-the-record” reply as an oft-used tactic to provide limited information.

Karin Roy, a USAID spokesperson, told up to 50 humanitarian organisations only to publish their budgets after an official overview by USAID.

This lack of transparency is a well-known flaw in US funding mechanisms, says the report. It promotes corruption and a waste of resources forming a closed system that reduces competition and blocks proper evaluation of projects.

Information that is published is often imprecise and incomplete and the US administrative reports are sometimes based on obsolete and incoherent data.

This lack of clarity in the use of funding seems to lead to the belief that the US (but not only) promises have not been kept. “Build back better” was the desire that animated the donors to support Haiti following the earthquake that hit the country on 12 January 2010.

Lack of transparency to cover up un-kept promises

Two and a half years later, due to badly managed funding by both the US and Haitian sides due to politically fragile platforms, the reconstruction of Haiti has become a foggy and twisted reality.

The majority of the time, when progress has been announced, they end up referring back to the situation before the earthquake focusing on education where the number of children in school corresponds more to the concept of re-education.

Building back a better Haiti? Most of this is built on programmes created or at least set in motion before the earthquake as opposed to real advances achieved after January 2010.

According to AP reports, out of $998 millions USD spent on reconstruction aid, 1 of every 5 dollars is pegged to AIDS-prevention programmes. USAID highlights a bridge they built on the Ennery river in the Artibonite region, [as an example of money used to re-build Haiti], but in reality this construction had nothing to do with the earthquake.

In terms of positive aid, one asks if it’s possible to take a critical approach on certain ways this aid is delivered? In March 2010, debt cancellation seemed like the “simplest” solution for Haiti, according to congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Nonetheless, public debt has come back into play and at the moment stands at $657 million USD. This has happened because financial flows would otherwise be blocked, as debt cancellation doesn’t allow for loans, notably from the United States. [rs apr 17/08/2012 10:00]