Until recently, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had been saying that 218,000 people living in so-called red sites around the capital Port-au-Prince would have to move.
Since January's earthquake, Americans have already given $800.9 million in private donations to help the country rebuild. The money has gone to 23 charities that ABC News has been tracking. Only about 37 percent of the money has been spent. Nearly $588 million in donations is still sitting on the sidelines, as millions of Haitians continue to suffer.Harris also points out that only half of the 9,000 latrines that are needed have been built.
Charities say that spending too quickly would risk creating waste and robbing money from the long-term work that must be done. But while they plan for the long-term, there is an immediate crisis.
More than a million people are homeless and a fifth of them still have no shelter, with the rainy season officially starting Friday and the hurricane season just around the corner.
Most of the news reported over the past week by AHP News and Radio Solidarité has focused on the many conferences and preparatory meetings convened by the international community as well as the Haitian private sector, the Haitian Diaspora, commissions of the Haitian Parliament, civil society organizations and NGOs, and individual governments. Surely the sheer breadth and number of these meetings should be enough to indicate the high stakes involved. There can also be no question that Haitians are well able to match the international organizations and governments - if not with equal resources to hold meetings, at least with expertise, focus, commitment and passion. Some of these meetings were already taking place before the nightmare of the January 12th earthquake. Some draw upon documents prepared in recent years. All of them indicate a capacity and willingness to hold consultations on the question of rebuilding a better Haiti.
The detainees have received little or no mental health care for the trauma they suffered, lawyers at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center said, despite an offer of free treatment at the jail by a local Creole-speaking psychotherapist.
This is a short video looking at IDP camps in Cite Soleil, Grand Goave, and Chanmas where people still have almost nonexistent shelter. The UN shelter cluster claims they’ve provided shelter materials to 75% of Haiti’s 1.3 million displaced people. Most people I talk to believe that’s an overestimate.
The Cite Soleil camp featured in the video, in particular, I know has received nothing in months. I’ve gone back several times. Last time kids were digging mini-trenches with sticks and rocks to divert the rain. It’s down the street from the Doctors Without Borders clinic.
The international community must do a better job of delivering aid more quickly and effectively to Haitians living in camps in and around Port-au-Prince.Click here to view this important video.
On an empty road in Cite Militaire, an industrial zone across from the slums of Cite Soleil, a group of women are gathered around a single white sack of U.S. rice. The rice was handed out Monday morning at a food distribution by the Christian relief group World Vision.
According to witnesses, during the distribution U.N. peacekeeping troops sprayed tear gas on the crowd.
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.
"Rebuilding Haiti does not mean returning to the situation that prevailed before the earthquake," according to the 53-page document, the first detailed account of how Haiti and its international backers plan to spend their money over the next 18 months. "It means addressing all these areas of vulnerability, so that the vagaries of nature or natural disasters never again inflict such suffering or cause so much damage and loss."
A group of Washington based groups, the "ad-hoc Haiti advocacy coalition", released a document today which includes numerous recommendations for implementing a Haitian led reconstruction. The purpose of the document is "to ensure that Haitian input is accessible to international policymakers, donors, and media as critical strategy and funding decisions are being made that will impact Haiti’s future. The compilation consists of documents from Haitian civil society, international NGOs, coalitions and diaspora conferences. Below are some of the general points and principles for guiding both short-term and long-term reconstruction:
The AP reports on a speech Bill Clinton gave to aid organizations working in Haiti. Clinton issued a stark warning; if urgent efforts are not made to relocate those displaced, up to 40,000 may die during the rainy season. Clinton stressed the need for aid organizations to empower the Haitian government, and make efforts to turn Haiti into a self-sufficient nation, echoing statements made by human rights groups to the Inter American Commission earlier in the week. The AP reports that Clinton said:
Every time we spend a dollar in Haiti from now on we have to ask ourselves, 'Does this have a long-term return? Are we helping them become more self-sufficient? ... Are we serious about working ourselves out of a job?As Haitian officials have consistently said, they face serious budget issues and are unable to pay many workers, as such, Clinton asked organizations "to allocate 10 percent of their spending in Haiti for government salaries and employee training." Clinton also urged organizations in Haiti to "participate in an online registry and make their expenditures transparent."
Yesterday, President Obama formally asked congress (PDF) to approve ammendements to the budget in the amount of $2.8 billion. It is important to note that most of this money can be used to reimburse funds that were already spent by the agencies, so the total new assistance will not be the total $2.8 billion. The BBC reports that the Senate is " is said to be close to a bill meeting Mr Obama's request." Following is the breakdown of agencies that would receive funding:
$150 million to the Department of Agriculture (food aid).
$655 million to the Department of Defense.
$220 million to the Department of Health and Human Services.
$60 million to the Department of Homeland Security.
$1,491 million to USAID and the State Department.
$219.8 million to the Department of the Treasury.
$5.2 million to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
You can read the whole document here, and see the breakdown within agencies.
International aid has been given generously, but distributed poorly, without input from earthquake survivors. As a result, children are going hungry, women are at risk of sexual violence and exploitation, and families are sleeping in the rain, without waterproof shelter.The groups had previously issued a series of recommendations in advance of the donor conference.
In Haiti, the rainy season is about to begin, necessitating relocation of the score of people displaced by the earthquake and currently living in over crowded camps. There are plans to move roughly 150,000 people currently living in the camps to the center of Port-au-Prince by May, yet only one site with a capacity of under 4,000 people has been secured to date.
When rains drenched the capital on Thursday night, the Golf Club de Pétionville turned to mud. It was a frightening preview of what the rainy season will hold for the 45,000 people who live there if they stay. Tents collapsed. Ditches overflowed with sewage. People and their belongings were swept downhill.
[M]any Haitians see the expansion of foreign companies as a way to take advantage of the widespread poverty plaguing the country, where the unemployment rate is up to 80 per cent.
The exploitation concerns come as former US presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush prepare to visit the Caribbean nation on Monday to discuss long-term recovery efforts with Haitian officials.
And a part of their plans will be to discuss the expansion of clothing industries in the country - in which workers earn less than $4 a day - one of the lowest wages in the world.
It is the beginning of the rainy season in Haiti. What people had feared since the earthquake is happening. After only 20 minutes of one of the first rains of the season in the camps, the scene quickly transforms into rain soaked mud-bath. Water seeps through everywhere. People are getting wet outside and inside their tents. Tarpaulin sheets have to be cut with knives to prevent them from collapsing under the weight of the rain water. People are panicking and trying to protect themselves. What will it be like for Haiti's people when the real rains come?
"It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake...I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else."Chief humanitarian coordinator for the UN, John Holmes, echoed this statement, telling the AP:
"A combination of food aid, but also cheap imports have ... resulted in a lack of investment in Haitian farming, and that has to be reversed."The article notes that while these criticisms have been coming from aid groups for years, "world leaders focused on fixing Haiti are admitting for the first time that loosening trade barriers has only exacerbated hunger in Haiti and elsewhere."
The devastated capital of Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of camps are located, is ground zero for the crisis of the homeless. Refugees in overcrowded shelters live in conditions of utter squalor, surrounded by piles of trash in mosquito-infested camps where the air is thick with the odor from overflowing latrines, and drainage lines are clogged with sewage.To read the entire article, click here.
Security is a problem. So is hygiene.
The flimsy tents and tarps in these camps will be no match for the coming storms, which is why an all-out effort must be made to relocate as many of the displaced as possible, particularly children, before it's too late.
The focus should be on the 29 of 425 sites in and around the capital, with about 200,000 homeless, that U.N. officials say are the most vulnerable to flooding and have been targeted for resettlement. The government's chief advisor on relocation, Gerard-Emile ``Aby'' Brun, says it will take $86 million to build relocation sites and another $40 million to secure rights to the land.
At this stage, money should not be the problem. More than $1 billion in aid has flowed into Haiti, and more is coming.