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Home Publications Blogs Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch Washington Post Reports on the US' "New Approach to Aid"

Washington Post Reports on the US' "New Approach to Aid"

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Tuesday, 30 March 2010 12:27
Mary Beth Sheridan reports for the Washington Post on the US' new approach to aid in Haiti:
An internal Obama administration assessment concludes that the U.S. government has provided $4 billion in aid to Haiti since 1990 but "struggled to demonstrate lasting impact," according to a summary of the review, which has not been publicly released.

On Wednesday, at an international donor conference, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to outline U.S. plans to spend an additional $1 billion or so to rebuild the earthquake-devastated nation.

This time, U.S. officials say, they will do things differently.
The main difference, writes Sheridan, is a focus on building up the Haitian state, rather than working around it. This has been a key recommendation from international experts, as well as human rights groups and Haitian civil society. Sheridan notes that while US officials insist that the Haitian government will be the decision maker, the plan "allots $48 million to housing and offices for up to 300 short- and long-term U.S. personnel."

One question that continues to come up, Sheridan writes, is the possibility of waste:
"It becomes a large cookie jar for people to benefit themselves. It doesn't have this real sense of delivering public services," said Terry F. Buss, author of "Haiti in the Balance," a book about the failure of foreign assistance.
Sheridan continues:
U.S. aid has gone to large contractors that manage budgets bigger than those of Haitian ministries -- but they have produced "mixed results," according to a summary of the U.S. policy review, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

In an interview, Mills, who led the review, said that past U.S. assistance to Haiti was dispersed over too many areas to have impact, and that no strategy was in place to transition to Haitian control.

In contrast, the new U.S. plan focuses on four areas: health; agriculture; governance and security; and infrastructure, with a particular emphasis on energy. In each one, "we anticipate making investments that would strengthen the ministries," Mills said.
The roughly $1 billion for reconstruction forms part of the $2.8 billion supplemental that President Obama requested from Congress. Some of the money will be used to reimburse money already spent, while some will be used on emergency needs.

To read the entire article, click here.

Tags: aid coordination | ngos | reconstruction

 

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