HaitiHaiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch is a blog that tracks multinational aid efforts in Haiti with an eye towards ensuring they are oriented towards the needs of the Haitian people, and that aid is not used to undermine Haitians' right to self-determination.

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It is now officially hurricane season. Rains have picked up over the previous weeks and this is already causing a surge in the number of new cholera cases. The most recent data from the MSPP (Ministere de la Sante Publique et da la Population) show that there have been over 320,000 cases, 170,000 hospitalizations and that 5,337 people have died as a result of the disease. In a statement on June 1, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) noted that:

During the last days the MSPP and PAHO/WHO have observed an increase in the number of alerts of cholera cases, mainly in the Departments of South-East, Grand-Anse, South, Center and West. New cholera cases have been reported in IDP camps.
Also pointing out that, "due [to] lack of resources numerous NGOs have been withdrawing from these areas and interrupting their water-trucking programs. This situation makes more vulnerable the health of the IDP populations." The Health Cluster vulnerability analysis shows that the West department, because of the high concentration of IDPs, is the most at-risk part of the country. Yesterday, Oxfam reported an increase in cholera cases in the area of Carrefour where, according to the IOM, over 60,000 IDPs are spread between 124 sites. Oxfam public health promoter Mimy Muisa Kambere said:

The current cholera outbreak in the Carrefour area is far worse than the one registered in November. At that time, there were a maximum of 900 reported cases of cholera per week. Now, over 300 new cases are registered every single day. However, the number of casualties is far lower than we saw in November as people are able to get help faster.

A draft report produced for USAID has been circulating online and has generated controversy as a result of its estimates of the death toll numbers from last year's devastating earthquake in Haiti which don’t match up with previously published figures. While media outlets have latched onto this sensational story and tied it in to the discussion over continued assistance to Haiti, there are other aspects of the paper that appear much more relevant to the current situation of relief efforts in Haiti.

To begin with, the report – even if its results are only partially reliable – makes it clear that there are an extremely large number of people living in damaged and dangerous housing. According to the report, many people have returned to housing once slated for destruction, a phenomenon we have written about previously.

As Timothy Schwartz, the lead author of the study, writes:

It means that as many as 570,178 people (114,493 residential groups or families) are living in 84,951 homes that may collapse in foul weather or in the event of another tremor. That’s yellow buildings. For Red buildings it means that 465,996* people (100,430 residential groups) are living in 73,846 buildings that might collapse at any moment.  Discussing the growing problem of people returning to unsafe yellow and red buildings, Dr. Miyamoto emphasized the gravity of the situation,

"Occupied yellow and red houses are extremely dangerous since many are a collapse hazard.  People occupy these houses despite communications and warnings from MTPTC engineers since they have nowhere to go but the camps. People do not want to stay in these tents. Security is poor and they are exposed to diseases. I see little children sleeping next to the heavily cracked walls every day."

As we previously mentioned, last week the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent government agency tasked with evaluating the performance of the federal government in selected areas, released their assessment of U.S. efforts in Haiti.  The report – which bears the less-than-optimistic title “Haiti Reconstruction: U.S. Efforts Have Begun, Expanded Oversight Still to be Implemented” – offers more a description of the general framework of the relief effort than a critical examination of its results to date.  For those not aware of where and how hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding are being channeled in Haiti, the report has a number of useful pie charts, flow charts and bar graphs that provide a clearer picture of where U.S. funds are being spent, and where they aren’t.  Although the report offers no examination of whether the programs implemented by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are actually effective, it does shine a light on some of the structural problems affecting the international relief mission.

The four broad sectors receiving U.S. funding are 1) Infrastructure and Energy (46% of total funds); 2) Governance and Rule of Law (16%); Health and other basic services (13%); and Food and Economic Security (7%).  The breakdown of spending within each sector provides evidence of misplaced priorities.  For instance, while significant funds are being channeled towards improving Haiti’s energy infrastructure, roads and permanent housing, only a comparatively small amount of allocations are going to rubble removal ($25 million), although the continued presence of rubble throughout Port-au-Prince remains the biggest obstacle to the reconstruction of Haiti’s devastated capital city.

Though the U.S. has allocated over $98 million to health care, only $10 million is being channeled to education (or approximately 1% of total U.S. spending on Haiti’s reconstruction).   Haiti’s education sector was in crisis well before the earthquake – with over 60% of students dropping out of school before the sixth grade and the literacy rate hovering around 50%.  There are now heaps of rubble where many schools stood and the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of children in tent camps have no access to any form of education.  Given the crucial role that education must play in Haiti’s reconstruction, it’s difficult to understand why this “sub-sector” is receiving so little funding.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report last week noting, among other things, that the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) is still not operational, although it still has several months to do so before its mandate ends:

although the commission's mandate ends in October 2011, IHRC is not fully operational due to delays in staffing the commission and defining the role of its Performance and Anticorruption Office--which IHRC officials cited as key to establishing the commission as a model of good governance.

The GAO goes on to note a significant disconnect between what the Haitian government has identified as priorities, and what IHRC has green-lighted:

although the Haitian government identified nearly equal 18-month funding requirements for debris removal and agriculture, IHRC has approved about 7 times more funding for agriculture projects.

This is perhaps not surprising considering the IHRC’s problems in ensuring involvement of Haitian partners in decision-making.

The debris removal, of course, is necessary in part to clear space for new shelters, and getting displaced persons out of IDP camps, where cholera – abetted by a severe lack of adequate sanitation – can be a serious danger. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported this weekend on a new milestone in post-quake tragedy: 5,200 cholera deaths and 300,000 infections over the past seven months.) Yet just 20 percent of the rubble has been removed, according to various officials. USAID has not made rubble removal much of a priority either, according to the USAID Office of the Inspector General.

An editorial in the New York Times today describes the findings of a UN report that shows the cholera outbreak “may have originated” at a MINUSTAH camp, and says “The fact that the disease is still spreading is a reminder of how much more help Haiti needs and the consequences of continued neglect.”

The editorial concludes:

Even as relief agencies are winding down their presence in Haiti, about 680,000 people are still living in camps and waiting for permanent shelter. Life in this setting is precarious, without adequate access to latrines and safe drinking water.

The United Nations’ overall appeal to respond to the epidemic, for $175 million, is 48 percent financed. Haiti’s continuing health emergency may have been overlooked in a crush of world events, but while the sick and dying are waiting for the world to respond, the disease is not.

The editorial was, unfortunately, all too well-timed, as the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Pan-American Health Organization issued a new warning today of expected "(fresh) outbreaks of cholera in the West, including Port-au-Prince, South and Southeast Departments" accompanying heavy rains and possible flooding.

As we have recently noted, the ongoing cholera epidemic – which now seems to be entering a deadly resurgence, and could kill as many as 11,000 people this year, is closely linked to inadequate sanitation in the IDP camps. This is a theme also addressed in OCHA's warning today: "More water means more cholera and the sanitation in the country is still very weak," Reuters reported OCHA spokesperson Emmanuelle Schneider as saying.

Poor sanitation, a lack of suitable transitional housing, and the poorly funded cholera appeal are all markers of the international community’s failings to come through for the people of Haiti. Now, members of the U.S. Congress are demanding answers. Yesterday, the House passed, by voice vote, bill HR 1016, which, the Miami Herald reports, requires the Obama administration to send to Congress

a report to assess the overall progress of relief, recovery, and reconstruction of Haiti and requires the president to assess within six months the effectiveness of U.S. assistance to Haiti.

…according to the Rep. Frederica Wilson (D – FL), who added an amendment to the bill regarding deportees.

Also covering the bill’s passage, AP's Jim Abrams reported that:

Earlier we reported on an Inspector General report that is extremely critical of USAID/OFDA and their grantees’ efforts in providing housing to displaced Haitians. The audit, however, also raised a separate issue, based on the fact that “USAID/OFDA’s mandate is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and reduce the economic impact of the recent earthquake in Haiti.”

The audit reported that:

As part of the audit, the audit team visited a camp where USAID/OFDA was funding the construction of 800 shelters. There we met a resident who was dying of breast cancer. The woman’s entire right breast was an open wound, and she was suffering great pain. Concerned for the welfare of this person, the audit team alerted grantee officials that the woman needed immediate medical help. The audit team members asked whether the grantee could use their knowledge of local community resources to seek help. However, the auditors were told that many people were sick in Haiti and that helping one person would lead to others asking for help.

The audit team informed USAID/OFDA of the situation, but was told by a USAID/OFDA official in Haiti that USAID could not do anything and that the issue should be taken up with the grantee.

An audit by the USAID Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that looked at USAID efforts to provide transitional housing in Haiti was published a few weeks ago and has yet to receive any attention from the media. The report, however, is extremely damning in its assessment of US government efforts to provide housing and represents the first real attempt at accountability in the failure to adequately provide housing for those displaced by the earthquake.

The audit looks at progress on 16 grants, totaling $139 million that were awarded from January 2010 through June 2010. The biggest recipients of these funds were CHF International, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and GOAL Ireland. The full list of grantees is available in the report.

The audit found that USAID/OFDA grantees completed just 6 percent of planned transitional shelters by the onset of last year's hurricane season (June 2010). By November 2010, just 22 percent of shelters had been completed. The audit notes that grantees will not be able to complete all the shelters they had planned due to “rising costs and unrealistic initial cost estimates.” There is also a 65 percent shortfall in the efforts to repair “14,375 homes minimally damaged in the earthquake.”

The inspector general made a series of recommendations to USAID, however they note that, “No management decisions have been reached on Recommendations 1, 3, 5, 6, and 7.” There are only seven recommendations.

Yesterday, the UN “independent panel” released their long awaited report (PDF) on the origin of cholera in Haiti. Although the ultimate conclusion of the panel was that “the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances…and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual,” the report is a serious indictment of MINUSTAH, specifically the base in Mirebalais. The report finds that the cholera outbreak began in a tributary near the MINUSTAH base and that the “sanitation conditions at the Mirebalais MINUSTAH camp were not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination of the Meye Tributary System of the Artibonite River.” (Check out the picture of the sewage pit on page 22 of the report).

The report does find that cholera “strains isolated in Haiti and Nepal during 2009 were a perfect match”. The MINUSTAH troops at the base were from Nepal. And the disease was introduced “as a result of human activity.” But, as Colum Lynch asked today:

In the end, the panel echoed the U.N.'s talking points throughout the cholera crisis: that the battle to end the scourge should take priority over determining how it got there. "The source of cholera in Haiti is no longer relevant to controlling the outbreak," he said. "What are needed at this time are measures to prevent the disease from becoming endemic," the report concluded.

Surely, no one would quibble with that sentiment. But wasn't the panel's primary mission to do just that?

The AP’s Trenton Daniel put a spotlight on rising food prices in Haiti over the weekend. Daniel writes:

Soaring food prices aren't new in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and heavily dependent on imports. Now those prices are rising again, mirroring global trends, while the cost of gasoline has doubled to $5 a gallon. Haitians are paying more for basic staples than much of Latin America and the Caribbean, an Associated Press survey finds.

A number of factors have led to the most recent surge in prices. As we reported in early March:

The FAO warned that, “The low-income food deficit countries are on the front line of the current surge in world prices.” Haiti, which imports nearly 50 percent of its food, according to the WFP, could be especially vulnerable.

International factors have exacerbated the negative effects of the cholera epidemic and last year’s Hurricane Thomas, both of which greatly affected agricultural regions. All of this comes at a particularly bad time for Haiti, where the months of April and May are generally the least food secure months of the year. FEWS Net has warned “The size of the food insecure population will be larger than usual, peaking in April/May.”

In the wake of last week’s letter by 53 members of the U.S. Congress urging prioritizing the needs of IDP’s, Georgianne Nienaber underscores the urgency of the situation in a new piece for Haiti Live News and other publications. Likening the looming disaster of an expected spike in cholera deaths with the sinking of the Titanic, Nienaber suggests that the current international response is akin to that of the SS Californian, which, although having been less than 10 miles away from the Titanic on April 15, 1912, made no attempt to rescue the doomed voyagers.

Nienaber writes that the number of cholera cases is already growing quickly with the onset of the rainy season:

The country-wide fatality rate is 1.7 percent, but rural Sud Est department stands at a disastrous 7.9 and Grande Anse is not far behind with a 5.4 percent death rate. The Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP) provides statistics that usually lag behind real time, but you can find them on the webpage.

In a better assessment from the ground in Mirebalais, the epicenter of the outbreak, PBS reports that the Partners in Health cholera center saw 500 cases in the three weeks prior to the recent rains. They have seen 1,000 cases in the last two weeks.

While the UN has offered estimates of up to 400,000 total cases by October 2011, a new study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, predicts nearly 800,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths from the cholera outbreak.

While millions of dollars collect interest in the bank accounts of large NGO’s, and while pledges by various foreign governments go unfulfilled, treatment for cholera remains greatly underfunded. Nienaber notes that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the urgent, but still neglected needs earlier this month:

[T]he withdrawal of some humanitarian agencies from cholera treatment centres and camps risks creating a shortage in the provision of services. The Cholera Appeal is 45 per cent funded, and the overall Haiti Appeal received only 10 per cent of the requested funds.

Late Wednesday night the CEP announced the final results of the second round of Haiti’s elections, formalizing Michel Martelly’s ascension from kompa musician to the presidency. Yet although it was largely ignored yesterday, the story that is now receiving the most attention from the media, as a result of statements of “concern” from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and the UN, has to do with the long-ignored legislative elections. In a controversial move, the CEP switched the winners of 17 out of 77 seats that were in the running in the Chamber of Deputies were changed from the preliminary results. 15 of these went from an opposition party to INITE, the governing party, while INITE lost the other two seats. Many of the changes appear far-fetched, as shown below. The net result was that INITE increased their plurality in the Chamber of Deputies, going from 33 to 46 of the 99 seats. Three of the 99 seats are still in play, with another round in May. The international community was quick to react, with the OAS issuing a strongly worded statement last night questioning the CEP:

the Joint Mission can only question whether the eighteen changes in position announced during the proclamation of the final results in fact express the will of the voters in those constituencies.

Anonymous diplomats, speaking with AFP, were even clearer in laying the blame on President Preval:

Matching diplomatic sources have told AFP that the Inité party of outgoing President René Préval have exerted significant pressure to modify the Haitian legislative elections in its favor and increase its representation in Parliament.

“It's clear as day, a great deal of pressure” was put on the CEP which unveiled, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the results of the presidential and legislative elections, according to a European source.

However this should come as little surprise to the foreign entities that have been most involved in the electoral process, namely the U.S., the European Union and Canada. In an effort to gain legitimacy for the presidential elections, these powers have largely ignored or papered over the serious flaws that had been present since the beginning of the electoral process. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (funded by USAID), in a report over a year ago on organizing elections in Haiti, wrote that, “Giving the mandate of organizing the upcoming elections to the current CEP would mean that the electoral process would be considered flawed and questionable from the start.” While the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti warned that, “The CEP’s close relationship with President Rene Préval has raised doubts about its ability to be politically neutral.” Rather than addressing these problems, the three aforementioned international entities funded the elections to the tune of $30 million and then pressured Haiti to accept the results despite an unprecedented low turnout, a high level of fraud and other irregularities and a politically motivated electoral council.

CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in The Guardian today:

Corruption takes many forms, and if the United States seems like it has less of it than many developing countries, this is partly because we have legalized so much of it. Election campaign contributions are only the most costly and debilitating form, a legalized bribery that, for example, gives the pharmaceutical and insurance companies a veto over health care policy and generally hollows out our limited form of democracy.

This legalization of corruption reached a new milestone last December when one Lewis Lucke, a long-time U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) official turned influence peddler, sued a consortium of firms operating in Haiti for $492,000, for breach of contract. As Lucke would have it (sorry!), he was promised $30,000 a month, plus incentives, to use his influence to secure contracts for these nice fellas. He got them $20 million dollars worth of contracts, but they cut him off after two months. The defendants in the case are Ashbritt, a U.S. contractor with a questionable track record, and the GB Group, one of the largest Haitian conglomerates. Together they formed the Haiti Recovery Group, which they incorporated in the Cayman Islands, to bid on reconstruction contracts.

Lucke was well positioned for the job, having formerly been in charge of the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort in Haiti for the U.S. government. (He was also previously the USAID Iraq Mission Director – we know how that reconstruction turned out.) His lawsuit states that when he worked for USAID "He met with Haitian officials, former United States Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the State Department, World Bank, and other participants . . .”. He was then hired by Ashbritt to, among other things, make “strategic introductions to key stakeholders, organizers, and brokers of Haitian recovery efforts…” Bill Clinton and George W. Bush established the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to help Haiti “build back better,” and Clinton is co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which has met about six times since the earthquake, and has been widely criticized for its lack of Haitian representation in decision-making.

Today, fifty-three Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscoring the gross inadequacy of relief efforts of USAID,  International Organization of Migration (IOM) and other aid organizations in Haiti’s camps for the internally displaced (IDPs).

Co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY), Donald Payne (NJ) and Frederica Wilson (FL), the letter urges the administration to focus its attention on the deteriorating situation in the camps, in particular the lack of water, sanitation and other basic services; the increase in gender-based violence; and the frequent occurrence of forced evictions of camp residents.

In December 2010, the AP conducted an analysis of Haitian earthquake contracts given out by the US government, finding that only $1.60 out of every $100 went to Haitian companies. In the story, USAID responded:

US AID says it is committed to increasing the amount of contracts going to Haitians.

“We already are engaging with Haitian communities to make them aware of how they can partner with us,” said Janice Laurente, a spokeperson for US AID.

Yet a new analysis from Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch shows that since December 2010, not a single contract has been awarded to a Haitian firm, according to the Federal Procurement Data System  (FPDS).  As of April 14, 2011, 1490 contracts had been awarded, since the January 2010 earthquake, for a total of $194,458,912. Of those 1490 contracts, only 23 have gone to Haitian companies, totaling just $4,841,426, or roughly 2.5 percent of the total.

Dear Friend of CEPR,

Several times per year, we at the Center for Economic and Policy Research ask our friends and supporters to consider making a donation to sustain our work. This spring, we are asking for support for a crucial part of CEPR’s international work, our Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog.

CEPR created the Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog in the first few weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, with a focus on ensuring that the most urgent needs of the Haitian people are being met. Through direct traffic as well as a partnership with Wired magazine, Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch has been able to reach thousands of people, including policymakers, journalists and aid workers on the ground in Haiti. From the very first post (there are now over 275 posts), the blog has focused extensively on the issue of adequate shelter and sanitation.

Following the earthquake in Haiti, Lewis Lucke became the United States' Special Coordinator for Relief and Reconstruction in Haiti. But less than a year after the earthquake he was in court suing the Haiti Recovery Group and its two partners, Ashbritt Inc. and the GB Group, for nearly $500,000. According to the AP, about two months after Lucke "finished" his work as US Special Coordinator, he began working with Ashbritt, a company we've written about numerous times before. The AP continues:

Lucke claims he "played an integral role" in securing two $10 million contracts -- the one from the Haitian government and a second from the World Bank -- along with a third with CHF International worth $366,000. He said he fulfilled his obligations under the contract by performing such services as "providing an understanding of the recovery efforts, making key introductions, and identifying sources of funding for HRG projects."

The incentives under the contract provided he would be paid a bonus if the HRG earned contracts worth more than $6 million. Lucke says he is owed about $492,483 as well as attorney's fees for the breach of contract.

Before the lawsuit was settled, however, Lucke was back at it. In December 2010, Lucke became a board member of MC Endeavor Inc. and its subsidiary, CENTIUUM Holdings Inc. The company describes itself as an "international Smart-Home Builder and Sustainable Community Developer utilizing green technologies". In a press release announcing Lucke's decision to join the board, the company touts Lucke's work in Haiti:

Ambassador Lucke most recently served as U.S. Response Coordinator for the Haiti earthquake, leading the United States’ $1.0 billion to date relief and recovery program. The reconstruction phase is next and is expected to take about $10 Billion to build interim and permanent housing for over 1 million homeless earthquake victims.

As Bill Clinton heads to Haiti to participate in the second day of meetings of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), the exclusion of Haitian and civil society input should be on top of the agenda. Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald reported yesterday, “Almost nine months after a battered Haiti approved a U.S.-backed blueprint for its recovery, small nongovernmental and grassroots community organizations essential to the country’s long-term reconstruction are being left behind in the nearly $2 billion in reconstruction projects that have been approved.” But not only are they missing out on the funding, they are being overlooked in the decision making process as well.

In December the 12 Haitian members of the IHRC wrote a formal letter outlining their marginalization within the IHRC. They wrote:


The twelve Haitian members present here feel completely disconnected from the activities of the IHRC. There is a critical communication and information shortage at the TIC [Information and Communication Technology] on the part of the Executive Secretary and even more from the Executive Committee. In spite of our role in the governance structure of the institution, we have so far received no follow-up on the IHRC activities.

In general, contact is only established one day before the board meetings. Board members have time neither to read, nor analyze, nor understand--and much less to respond intelligently--to projects submitted at the last minute, despite all the complaints expressed and promises made on this subject.


The letter adds that, “In reality, Haitians members of the board have one role: to endorse the decisions made by the Director and Executive Committee.”

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos chaired a UN Security Council meeting today, reportedly attended by representatives of 14 countries (including the foreign ministers of MINUSTAH members Argentina and Chile) and UN Special Envoy to Haiti Bill Clinton, that focused on Haiti. According to Colombia Reports, Santos said:

"Think of what we could achieve if instead of having a high percentage of military personnel, the mission had more civilian personnel and more engineers to assist the removal of debris, a task which is starting to show significant progress thanks to the efforts of the Haitian authorities," the president said.

And

"If we have a United Nations operation in Haiti, why don't we use it to serve their immediate needs and begin to cement its transition towards development?" Santos continued.

"Today, the proliferation of organizations operating on this island without any coordination between themselves or the Haitian authorities, undermines any effort to strengthen the institutions of the country and they affect the ability to undertake long-term initiatives which means that their efforts do not lead to anything concrete."

"It does not help Haiti if the international community does not take into account the vision of the Haitians about their own problems. For this reason if the Haitian people accept the renewed support of the international community, we propose that it be based on a foundation that guarantees the effectiveness of our joint action," Santos added.

Preliminary results announced by the CEP last night showed Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly with 67.6 percent of the vote, while Mirlande Manigat received 31.5 percent. While news headlines focus on the “landslide” victory for Martelly, he actually received the support of only 16.7 percent of registered voters -- far from a strong mandate -- as early reports show Martelly with just 716,986 votes to Manigat’s 336,747. Reports indicate that turnout was even lower than in the first round, when it was a historically low 22.8 percent, and Martelly’s percent of votes (as well as Manigat’s) would have been even smaller were it not for the use of new electoral lists which removed some 400,000 people from the rolls.

Nevertheless, media reports have largely ignored the issue of turnout. AOL’s Emily Troutman reported last night that, “Martelly's 67 percent of the vote is nearly unprecedented in Haiti and a clear mandate for his leadership”. Not only is the 67 percent number misleading in terms of his overall support, it is also far from unprecedented (as other reporters have also stated). In 1990 Aristide was elected with 67 percent of the vote, but with significantly higher turnout. Aristide received over one million votes in 1990 even though there were over one million fewer registered voters at the time. In 1995, Preval was elected with over 87 percent of the vote. In 2000, Aristide received over 3.5 times as many votes as Martelly did in the runoff elections last month. Even Preval’s most recent term began with a greater mandate than Martelly’s; in 2006 he received nearly one million votes with 700,000 fewer registered voters.

Given the immense problems with the relief effort, many of which were discussed yesterday, it is encouraging to see the “Assessing Progress in Haiti Act” making its way through the US Congress. The bill (H.R. 1016), citing the level of devastation, the slow pace of reconstruction and the massive amount of money pledged, requests that:


Not later than six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President, in consultation with the heads of all relevant agencies, including the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shall transmit to Congress a report on the status of post-earthquake humanitarian, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti, including efforts to prevent the spread of cholera and treat persons infected with the disease.


The report “shall include a description, analysis, and evaluation” of the overall relief efforts, specific USG projects, projects to “protect vulnerable populations, such as internally displaced persons, children, women and girls, and persons with disabilities” and projects in health, sanitation and water. The report would also require the government to measure the “extent to which United States and international efforts are in line with the priorities of the Government of Haiti and are actively engaging and working through Haitian ministries and local authorities.”

The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA] and has 13 cosponsors, has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The full text of the bill can be read here.

"[T]he second round of the presidential and legislative elections was quite an improvement in many ways on the first round," according to the joint OAS-CARICOM observation mission. Yet reports are now emerging that a high number of tally sheets (PVs) have been excluded due to fraud or irregularities. Le Nouvelliste and Radio Kiskeya both reported that 18 percent of the tally sheets that have been counted thus far have been quarantined. Le Nouvelliste added, however, that many of these are subject to continuing analysis that could allow them to eventually be counted. The problems associated with the excluded sheets include missing signatures of polling station members, ballot stuffing, and missing voter identification numbers, among other problems.

Radio Kiskeya reports that 4,427 tally sheets have been counted, out of a total of 11,182 and that of those, 18.7 percent (830), have been excluded for fraud or other irregularities. In the first round of the election, the CEP quarantined just 312 tally sheets, while the OAS recommended excluding an additional 234. Since the CEP never actually published detailed final results, it is impossible to determine how many sheets were actually excluded. Either way, with just a fraction of the tally sheets having been counted, it appears the number of irregular tally sheets already greatly exceeds the number from the first round. If the current rate of exclusion holds, then over 2,000 tally sheets will be excluded. If the current rate of exclusion holds, then over 2000 tally sheets will be discarded. Given a similar turnout to the first round, this would equal roughly 200,000 votes.


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