The decision, announced in an interview with The Associated Press, is potentially explosive in a country where a small elite owns most of the land in and around the capital.
That elite, a traditionally corrupting force in Haitian politics, has the power to bring down the government.
Every time I meet with foreign leaders and delegations, I tell them that [shelter] is the most urgent need.
The pair are advising the World Bank on the use of crowd-sourced mapping, primarily through the open-source program OpenStreetMap, in the relief and recovery effort in Haiti.
"These guys are like vultures coming to grab the loot over this disaster, and probably money that might have been injected into the Haitian economy is going to be just grabbed by these companies and I'm sure that they are not only these mercenary companies but also the other companies like Halliburton or these other ones that always [come] on the heels of the troops."
The Air Force did initially give priority to military units that were sent to secure the airport, distribute aid and keep the peace. But then it started taking flights according to a reservation system open to anyone.
Because of that, key aid was delayed in some cases while less-critical flights got in.
Aid agencies are intensely preoccupied with providing essential humanitarian assistance in Haiti. Haitians, however, cannot wait for traditional development assistance experts to conceive and implement public and private-sector capacity-building, policy reform, educational initiatives and other long-term programs.
"Everybody needs to understand the need to act right now, otherwise the planting season will be lost," Geri Benoit, Haiti's ambassador to Italy and the Rome-based UN food agencies, told IPS.
Media monitor and analyst Danny Schecter probes beneath the superficiality of TV-coverage of Haiti relief, and the focus on celebrity benefits, saying that “Entertainment and popular culture are moving and valuable but ongoing popular education on the issues is more important.”
Among Danny’s recommendations:
We need another professionally staffed website to insure public accountability and transparency on where all the money raised by international agencies, national governments and charities is going.
The U.N.'s top humanitarian relief coordinator John Holmes scolded his top aid lieutenants for failing to adequately manage the relief effort in Haiti, saying that an uneven response in the month following the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake was undercutting confidence in the U.N.'s ability to deliver vital assistance, according to a confidential email obtained by Turtle Bay.Click here to read more, including the entire confidential e-mail.
Some Haitians are welcoming France's new interest in their nation as a counterbalance to the United States, which has sent troops there three times in the past 16 years. But Sarkozy's visit is also reviving bitter memories of the crippling costs of Haiti's 1804 independence.
A third of the population was killed in an uprising against exceptionally brutal slavery, an international embargo was imposed to deter slave revolts elsewhere and 90 million pieces of gold were demanded by Paris from the world's first black republic.
*This post has been edited slightly for accuracy.
With the Inter-American Development Bank saying that the reconstruction of Haiti could cost upwards of $14 billion, and with billions in aid already coming in to Haiti, it is vitally important to keep a close eye on where that money is being spent.
The Federal Procurement Data System - Next Generation, has set up a function where you can track contracts awarded for Haiti related work. The list, however, is not exhaustive; there is a message on the site saying that the list only “represents a portion of the work that has been awarded to date.” For instance the US Agency for International Development lists only two contracts totaling just under $150,000. USAID, however, says that through the Office of Transition Initiatives they have already given $20 million to three companies: Chemonics, Internews, and Development Alternatives Inc. The reality may be that these companies have received even more money than that though. The Miami Herald reported on February 8 that:
The U.S. Agency for International Development has given two assignments for Haiti-related work to two beltway firms involved in international development: Washington, D.C.-based Chemonics International and Bethesda, Md.-based Development Alternatives Inc.
The emergency work assignments, which are worth $50 million each, are likely the first of many the agency will hand out to private firms to help Haiti get on its feet after the devastating quake Jan. 12.
And I think, frankly, it’s working really well, and I believe that this will be something that people will be able to look back on in the future as a model for how we’ve been able to sort ourselves out as donors on the ground and responding to an earthquake.
Haiti's elite -- a small, politically connected group as comfortable lobbying President René Préval as lawmakers in Washington -- is positioning itself for business opportunities emerging from their country's reconstruction.
“At a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis we are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal,”
"Everyone was trying to survive, because they were looking for food and water, " the Washington-based correspondent said. "If there was more empathy in news reporting, the perspective would be different." Liu also lashed out at peacekeeping troops in Haiti. He said the troops told Taiwan's second rescue team not to go outside because it was not safe, but what the reporter saw were people who were staring over airport walls at the relief goods they hoped to receive as soon as possible.
[T]he Haitian government has only received 49,198 of the 200,000 tents it has requested from the international community, and only 15,000 of these tents are available in Haiti as of today.