The supplemental funding bill for Haiti has languished in Congress since it was introduced over 6 weeks ago. News accounts this week, however, suggest that the funding will be attached to the upcoming war funding bill that lawmakers hope to pass before the Memorial Day recess. Last week the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) issued a statement which read, in part:
It is urgent that Congress approve a generous aid relief and reconstruction package that supports a sustainable, decentralized, Haitian-led recovery as soon as possible. A delay in approving the supplemental will postpone much needed efforts in Haiti and affect the replenishment of the International Disaster Assistance account, damaging the U.S. government's ability to address humanitarian crises around the globe.
As LAWG goes on to point out, the needs on the ground remain extreme. But along with the increased funding, there must also be increased accountability. The supplemental does provide some resources for the Inspector General of USAID, however Congress must ensure that the funding is used quickly and efficiently to meet the urgent needs of the Haitian population, including right now. Haiti’s rainy season has already begun, and a possibly devastating hurricane season looms just around the corner. Yet thousands of earthquake survivors and displaced persons still lack adequate shelter and sanitation in order to make it through the coming months, to say nothing of proper access to education, health care and food distributions. If urgent efforts are not undertaken now, Haiti could face a second catastrophe.

The supplemental could also go a long way to ensuring that food aid does not greatly distort the local agricultural market. The supplemental provides some funding for food aid, however it does not ensure local or regional procurement. Looking specifically at the case of rice, if donors agreed to purchase food aid locally it would do a great deal to stimulate local production without greatly distorting the market. This would cost only a small fraction of the total aid pledged to Haiti, while ensuring livelihoods for thousands of Haitians.





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