Haiti – What Happened to All the Money?

In times of crisis countries and governments are quick to offer aid and funds to people inflicted with disaster, as happened in Haiti on January 12th of this year. But now, six months on, has the lot of the Haitian people improved much? The sad answer is; No!

Devastation to Port Au Prince

Devastation to Port Au Prince

Country after country that has suffered a natural disaster, and the indescribable hardship to its population, face the same barren fact that the rich countries seldom live up to their promises. People made homeless, such as the Haitian population of Port Au Prince, continue living in makeshift shanties made of cardboard and wood scraps. So why are the Haitian people still living in shanty towns?

1 Billion Dollars

The EU promised $474m; Brazil $210m; The UK $32.7m; France $10.4m; the USA $100m, and Canada $131.5m. This is only the tip of the iceberg, for many smaller nations also pledged money for the relief of the suffering in Haiti.

In total, some $5.3 billion from 60 nations was pledged to help the Haitian people get their infrastructure back in some sort of working order, of that only 10% has actually been delivered, and most of that as cancelled debt. This means that very little has actually arrived to repair the devastation to the country’s infrastructure, in which little has changed. So why have the pledges not been fulfilled?

It would seem that after the disaster dropped from the world headlines, many governments took a second look at the huge amounts of money they had donated in haste, and the whole question of paying the pledges dropped into the quagmire of politics and bureaucracy, and will of course in time, be totally forgotten. 

Shanty Town

In the last 50 years the world has reeled to 33 natural disasters, everything from famine, drought, earthquakes, hurricanes and epidemics and the total number of casualties registers in the billions. When disaster strikes it is natural for countries to seek outside help, for no one country has the money or resources to battle such an event alone. Even the United States was offered, and accepted, outside help for Hurricane Katrina.

Haiti Tent City

I am still of the opinion that an international organisation should be set up for the immediate, and long-term recovery of nations struck by natural disasters (I refer you to my blog Haiti Earthquake – Why Was the World Not Better Prepared? of 25 January 2010).

A Caribbean Hurricane

We are of course to blame, for our reliance on fossil fuels and our desperate need to own a car will be our undoing.

Meanwhile, the people of Haiti, Bangladesh, Africa and many others, continue to survive in squalor because nations cannot live up to their promises.

It is time for a change of strategy for YOU may be next!

Roy.


2 Responses to “Haiti – What Happened to All the Money?”

  1. Robert L Bagley,II Says:

    While this is a excellent answer to the question, yet there were other sources that actually raised millions. My question is where did that money go. For instance, charitable organizations, churches, musical concerts, disaster organizations, all raised millions. Numerous religious groups, large and small flocked to Haiti with funds donated by their parishioners. Television,newspaper, magazines, mailers, all flooded our conscious of the need to help. Where did that money go? Is there any real accounting, has any group demonstrably brought about change for any of the peoples of Haiti?

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    • Hi Robert,
      You are quite right in your query of course, and there will always be a question hanging over what happened to this money. However, I believe most of it was used in the initial aid given to the people of Haiti in the form of direct medical aid, tents etc. It would have got to the ‘front line’ fairly quickly and for the most part, put to good use. The millions raised by charitable donations were a mere drop in the ocean of what was required to rebuild a shattered city however.
      The biggest problem was the monetary aid ‘promised’ by governments, much of which arrived a lot later. I say promised, because in many respects much of the donated money never turned up because many governments considered writing off Haiti’s debt to them was sufficient help. Not true of course, but as I said, most of the government donations were more political in nature rather than a true desire to help. Subseqeunt aid was flittered away on non-essentials and much of it ended up in people’s pockets.
      It is a sad fact of our times that when a major catastrophe strikes and people are dying, many so-called ‘helpers’ are looking to line their own pockets, ignoring the suffering that accompanies such an event.
      Reports at the beginning of this year have stated that many of the major charities have kept back vast sums running into tens of millions rather than putting it to good use. This is shameful!
      Meanwhile, the people of Haiti go on suffering in very poor conditions and the actual clearing of the wrecked buildings of Port au Prince to allow for rebuilding has barely scratched the surface.
      Best Regards,
      Roy.

      Like

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