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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Deadly Storm Underscores Importance of Rich Nations Living up to Aid Pledges

Deadly Storm Underscores Importance of Rich Nations Living up to Aid Pledges

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010 15:05
Jonathan Katz reports for the Associated Press on the status of aid the US had pledged for reconstruction efforts in Haiti. The verdict: “Not a cent of the $1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived.” Rich nations not living up to their pledges is a topic we have reported on previously, but the effects were recently highlighted when a storm swept through Haiti last week, killing at least five. Although it lasted just 30 minutes, the storm had dire consequences for the displaced earthquake survivors throughout the country. Describing the situation, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA wrote:
In camp Automeca the situation is very dramatic. The people who were not evicted from the camp and forced to relocate two months ago are now living on a very fragile piece of land, on the downhill slope where the latrines were previously located. The camp has become a sea of mud and the air is dominated by a staggering odor left behind by human waste. We found the residents practically nude, scrambling to clean belongings and cut the branches and trunks of fallen trees. The rains and winds had tattered some of the tens and destroyed others. We don’t yet have a firm number on how many were destroyed, but it is much the same as in the rest of the camps – many will not sleep tonight and they have nowhere to go.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported yesterday that even after some emergency shelter materials (tents and tarps) were delivered, there are still at least 14,000 families who are without even what meager shelter they had before the storm.

Despite the dire situation on the ground, and the clear fact that relief and reconstruction is a matter of life and death, countries continue to fail to live up to their aid pledges. Katz reports on CHF International, described as “the primary U.S.-funded group assigned to remove rubble and build temporary shelters.” Although only 2 percent of rubble has been removed, and less than 10 percent of the planned shelters built, CHF International has had to stop work.
"It's just a matter of one phone call and the trucks are out again. We have contractors ready to continue removing rubble. ... We have local suppliers and international suppliers ready to ship the amount of wood and construction materials we need," said CHF country director Alberto Wilde. "It's just a matter of money."
Yet, as it turns out, one US Senator, Tom Coburn (R-OK) has held up reconstruction funds. But it is not just the US that has failed to live up to their pledges, which themselves were not as much as it once appeared. Despite grandiose statements about billions of dollars in aid, the Associated Press found “that $874 million of the funds pledged by other countries at the donors conference was money already promised to Haiti for work or aid before the quake. An additional $1.13 million wasn't ever going to be sent; it was debt relief. And $184 million was in loans to Haiti's government, not aid.”

The UN Special Envoy for Haiti has been tracking aid pledges (PDF), and with just one week left in fiscal year 2010 (the time frame the pledges were for) only 35.7 percent of the near $2 billion in pledges have been disbursed, and this does not include the United States. If one added the $1.15 billion pledge from the US, just over 20 percent of the funds meant for fiscal year 2010 have been disbursed. Only three of the top 30 donors have disbursed close to 100 percent of their pledges; Brazil, Australia and Spain. Of the $686 million  that has been disbursed, over $100 million is in the form of loans (PDF).

With bilateral aid slow to arrive, private organizations, which raised over a billion dollars from Americans alone, could fill the gap. Although updated numbers are not readily available, a few months ago most organizations were sitting on millions of dollars for what they described as longer-term projects.

What is clear, however, is that the emergency phase in Haiti is not over. The lack of funding and lack of progress is putting lives at risk, and with each passing day and each violent storm, more IDPs are being put in danger.


 

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