USAID-Funded Parliament Building Still Vacant 4 Months After “Inauguration”
|Monday, 19 March 2012 14:41|
Jacob Kushner and Jean Pharés Jérôme of Global Post report today on the high-profile USAID project to build a temporary building for Haiti’s parliament. Although the $1.9 million building was “inaugurated” in November 2011, Kushner and Jérôme report that:
But more than four months later, that location remains vacant. The building is scattered with woodwork trimmings and debris from a costly ongoing renovation paid for by the Haitian treasury because legislators say the United States never finished the job. And critics in Haiti charge that the unfinished work and empty building stand as a powerful metaphor for much of what is wrong with USAID’s approach to development in Haiti: that it lacks coordination with and input from the Haitians themselves about how best to undertake reconstruction projects.
The building remains nothing more than a “shell” and the Haitian government has already spent $770,000 in renovations and will have to spend much more before it is actually usable. Cholzer Chancy of Haiti’s Chamber of Deputies told Global Post, “It may cost more for us to renovate it than for them to build it in the first place.”
“We explained to them what could be done, we consulted with them on that, and they approved the project,” he said. “We answer to the American people and we need to be good stewards of their tax money, and I think we’ve done that in this case.”
The authors continue:
But to the half a million Haitians who remain displaced to tents and shacks since the earthquake, the $2 million US aid dollars spent on an empty building and the hundreds of thousands more taken from the Haitian Treasury to renovate it seem inexcusable.
The contract to build the temporary parliament building is part of an indefinite quantity contract with Chemonics International. The for-profit development company has received two contracts through USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) since the earthquake totaling $73 million. Chemonics has also received over $80 million for the USAID WINNER program. They are the largest single recipient of USAID funds since the earthquake. HRRW has reportedpreviously on Chemonics, and in November did a three-part series looking at USAID’s reliance on contractors, the lack of oversight of Chemonics and other contractors and their previous poor performance in Afghanistan and Haiti.