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The Politics of Aid

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Wednesday, 10 March 2010 10:12

Jacqueline Charles reports for the The Miami Herald today on the politics of aid in Haiti. Charles notes that despite hundreds of thousands still without shelter, the "behind-the-scenes jockeying" by aid groups, NGOs and governments alike will only increase. Charles writes:

The battle includes aid groups known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and U.N. agencies that want to be the chief humanitarian agencies, countries that are lobbying for a seat at the decision table, and leaders from around the world who fly in frequently making promises that have yet to be met.
Mark Turner of the International Organization for Migration, a UN agency, explains simply, "the world is pumping in money here and everyone wants in on the action." Turner continues:
"But organizationally, the aid industry is like corporations. A budget depends on a big job that is high profile, and if you want budget, you want staff, you have to be here."
But most of the $2 billion dollars that have flowed into the country have bypassed the Haitian Government:
"All of the millions that are coming into Haiti right now are going into the hands of NGOs," Préval told The Miami Herald before heading to Washington where he planned to ask the U.S. to reverse its long-standing policy of not providing money directly to the Haitian government. The U.S. and others had stopped funding the government directly because of Haiti's history of corruption.

Préval said his government had received $7 million out of the many millions promised. Haitian government officials acknowledge that it was difficult to control aid agencies before the quake, and now it's become even more difficult.
Charles reports on the effects of this aid jockeying and influx of organizations on the Haitian people:
The increase, often small groups incapable of handling the challenge of such a disaster, has led to increased traffic jams, haphazard tent distributions, confusion and even backlash.

"The population is always a victim because it never benefits," said Mordochee Saint-Louis, a community leader who lives in an encampment with 2,000 people left homeless.

In another camp, 2,677 residents living on a private plot sleep in soggy cardboard and on dirty sheets fastened by tree limbs, instead of in tents.

A few weeks ago, a white tent sprouted up in the middle of the camp ground, delivered there by an NGO. Soon after, another aid group brought a potable-water bladder. And several days ago, Korean aid workers dropped by and vaccinated the children.

No one has come to coordinate the effort, or even deliver food, say camp leaders, who recently created their own food coupons -- pink slips that are ready to be swapped for the real thing should an aid group come.

"It's growing everyday," said Peterson Jean, a camp leader. "Nobody has come."

To read the entire article, click here.

Tags: aid distributions | ngos | shelter | UN

 

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