Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti Relief & Reconstruction Watch

Haiti: 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.

Relief organizations and the Haitian government are still attempting to assess the extent of the damage that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake. The Haitian government belatedly declared a month-long state of emergency yesterday. The official death toll has been raised to 54, with 21 people still unaccounted for, as the AP reported today.

As with other recent storms to hit Haiti, Sandy’s arrival in Haiti might well have been just the start of the latest disaster. Heavy rains – let alone storms – always bring an increase in cholera infections. But as the Boston Globe reports:

…money for cholera prevention is running low.

Funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire in February and will not be renewed, said Cate Oswald, [Partners in Health’s] director of programs in Haiti.

The impact of the storm on Haiti’s crops is also only now being assessed, and the news is worse than many had thought it would be: “More than 70% of crops – including bananas, plantains and maize – were destroyed in the south of the country, officials said,” as the BBC reported. As we noted earlier, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe warned Reuters that “Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy,” “so food security will be an issue.”

The New York Times, Miami Herald and The Guardian have all cited the Haitian government in reporting that 200,000 people had been left homeless – or at least had their homes damaged – by the storm. Newly homeless means more people thrown into a state of vulnerability: vulnerable to cholera and other illness and disease, vulnerable to rape and gender-based violence, vulnerable to hunger, and vulnerable to forced eviction when/if these people move into displaced persons settlements.

Organizations with proven track records of doing important work in Haiti have mobilized and are raising funds to provide relief, respond to the increased risk of new cholera infections, and other lingering impacts of the latest unnatural disaster to hit Haiti. These include Partners in Health; Doctors Without Borders; the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which advocates on behalf of IDPs and victims of rape and gender-based violence; and the Under Tents campaign which fights for the right to housing in Haiti.

Relief organizations and the Haitian government are still attempting to assess the extent of the damage that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake. The Haitian government belatedly declared a month-long state of emergency yesterday. The official death toll has been raised to 54, with 21 people still unaccounted for, as the AP reported today.

As with other recent storms to hit Haiti, Sandy’s arrival in Haiti might well have been just the start of the latest disaster. Heavy rains – let alone storms – always bring an increase in cholera infections. But as the Boston Globe reports:

…money for cholera prevention is running low.

Funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is set to expire in February and will not be renewed, said Cate Oswald, [Partners in Health’s] director of programs in Haiti.

The impact of the storm on Haiti’s crops is also only now being assessed, and the news is worse than many had thought it would be: “More than 70% of crops – including bananas, plantains and maize – were destroyed in the south of the country, officials said,” as the BBC reported. As we noted earlier, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe warned Reuters that “Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy,” “so food security will be an issue.”

The New York Times, Miami Herald and The Guardian have all cited the Haitian government in reporting that 200,000 people had been left homeless – or at least had their homes damaged – by the storm. Newly homeless means more people thrown into a state of vulnerability: vulnerable to cholera and other illness and disease, vulnerable to rape and gender-based violence, vulnerable to hunger, and vulnerable to forced eviction when/if these people move into displaced persons settlements.

Organizations with proven track records of doing important work in Haiti have mobilized and are raising funds to provide relief, respond to the increased risk of new cholera infections, and other lingering impacts of the latest unnatural disaster to hit Haiti. These include Partners in Health; Doctors Without Borders; the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, which advocates on behalf of IDPs and victims of rape and gender-based violence; and the Under Tents campaign which fights for the right to housing in Haiti.

“The whole south is under water,” Haitian Prime Minister Lamothe told the AP this weekend. Four days of rain that saw accumulations surpass 20 inches have left over 50 dead and 20 missing throughout Haiti as floods hit the South and West departments especially hard. According to the most recent update from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 52 are reported dead, with 20 and 18 in the West and South departments, respectively. OCHA notes that over 20,000 were evacuated and 90 camps damaged.

With some 370,000 Haitians still living in camps with nothing but tattered tarps to protect themselves, the rains were especially damaging. Kristen and Wawa Chege of the Mennonite Central Committee describe the situation:

whole camps flooded as streams emerged between tents, shelters fell under the weight of sitting water, dirt floors turned to mud, and precious possessions were ruined. Efforts to raise mattresses off the ground using cinder blocks, and string clothes from wires inside their tent made little difference as the rain poured in through holes in the tent, or seeped in below the walls. As one man succinctly put it, “everything is wet”.

Agriculture

In August, tropical storm Isaac inflicted massive damage to the agricultural sector in Haiti, resulting in an estimated $242 of damages. As food prices have risen, protests against the high cost of living and against the Martelly government have proliferated. The passing of hurricane Sandy will only exacerbate the problems. As Susan Ferreira reports for Reuters:

“Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy,” he said, “so food security will be an issue.”

A rise in food prices in Haiti triggered violent demonstrations and political instability in April 2008. Jean Debalio Jean-Jacques, the Ministry of Agriculture’s director for the southern department, said he worried that the massive crop loss “could aggravate the situation.”

“The storm took everything away,” said Jean-Jacques. “Everything the peasants had in reserve – corn, tubers – all of it was devastated. Some people had already prepared their fields for winter crops and those were devastated.”

In Abricots on Haiti’s southwestern tip, the community was still recovering from the effects of 2010’s Hurricane Tomas and a recent dry spell when Sandy hit.

“We’ll have famine in the coming days,” said Abricots Mayor Kechner Toussaint. “It’s an agricultural disaster.”

Ferreira adds that humanitarian workers are concerned because stocks of supplies have not been replenished since tropical storm Isaac.

Cholera

As occurred following Isaac, the most deadly aspect of Sandy could be the resulting increase in cholera cases that will occur in the weeks ahead. Nearly 90 people died from cholera in the month following Isaac, as infection rates greatly increased due to the rain. Since the beginning of the epidemic in October 2010, some 7,600 have died and nearly 600,000 have fallen ill.

According to Dr. Juan Carlos Gustavo Alonso of the Pan American Health Organization, aid organizations are already seeing a spike in cholera cases, especially in the west department where most of the remaining IDPs are located. Over 80 cases have been reported just from the IDP camps in the capital.

Despite overwhelming evidence that United Nations troops were responsible for cholera’s introduction, two years have passed without the UN taking responsibility.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Although the full extent of the damage from Sandy has yet to be fully evaluated, the damage will likely be at least as great as that from Isaac. Prime Minister Lamothe said that the Haitian government would be issuing a plea for disaster aid in the coming days. The devastation brought on by Sandy and Isaac highlights the need for greater disaster risk reduction programs to ensure Haiti is not so susceptible to natural disasters.

The Haiti Reconstruction Fund, which has been the largest single recipient of donor contributions, has two projects which focus on disaster risk reduction in the south department, one of the hardest hit areas. While the UN’s $8 million dollar program has mostly been completed, the Inter-American Development Bank’s $14 million, 5-year project has yet to get off the ground. The project targets disaster mitigation works in Les Cayes and Camp Perrin. Both those communities were hit hard by flooding last week from Sandy.

While it will be important to react to the current disaster to ensure cholera’s spread is mitigated, IDPs receive the support they need, and the agricultural sector is strengthened, the hurricane also shines a light on Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the need for greater preparation and prevention measures.

 

“The whole south is under water,” Haitian Prime Minister Lamothe told the AP this weekend. Four days of rain that saw accumulations surpass 20 inches have left over 50 dead and 20 missing throughout Haiti as floods hit the South and West departments especially hard. According to the most recent update from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 52 are reported dead, with 20 and 18 in the West and South departments, respectively. OCHA notes that over 20,000 were evacuated and 90 camps damaged.

With some 370,000 Haitians still living in camps with nothing but tattered tarps to protect themselves, the rains were especially damaging. Kristen and Wawa Chege of the Mennonite Central Committee describe the situation:

whole camps flooded as streams emerged between tents, shelters fell under the weight of sitting water, dirt floors turned to mud, and precious possessions were ruined. Efforts to raise mattresses off the ground using cinder blocks, and string clothes from wires inside their tent made little difference as the rain poured in through holes in the tent, or seeped in below the walls. As one man succinctly put it, “everything is wet”.

Agriculture

In August, tropical storm Isaac inflicted massive damage to the agricultural sector in Haiti, resulting in an estimated $242 of damages. As food prices have risen, protests against the high cost of living and against the Martelly government have proliferated. The passing of hurricane Sandy will only exacerbate the problems. As Susan Ferreira reports for Reuters:

“Most of the agricultural crops that were left from Hurricane Isaac were destroyed during Sandy,” he said, “so food security will be an issue.”

A rise in food prices in Haiti triggered violent demonstrations and political instability in April 2008. Jean Debalio Jean-Jacques, the Ministry of Agriculture’s director for the southern department, said he worried that the massive crop loss “could aggravate the situation.”

“The storm took everything away,” said Jean-Jacques. “Everything the peasants had in reserve – corn, tubers – all of it was devastated. Some people had already prepared their fields for winter crops and those were devastated.”

In Abricots on Haiti’s southwestern tip, the community was still recovering from the effects of 2010’s Hurricane Tomas and a recent dry spell when Sandy hit.

“We’ll have famine in the coming days,” said Abricots Mayor Kechner Toussaint. “It’s an agricultural disaster.”

Ferreira adds that humanitarian workers are concerned because stocks of supplies have not been replenished since tropical storm Isaac.

Cholera

As occurred following Isaac, the most deadly aspect of Sandy could be the resulting increase in cholera cases that will occur in the weeks ahead. Nearly 90 people died from cholera in the month following Isaac, as infection rates greatly increased due to the rain. Since the beginning of the epidemic in October 2010, some 7,600 have died and nearly 600,000 have fallen ill.

According to Dr. Juan Carlos Gustavo Alonso of the Pan American Health Organization, aid organizations are already seeing a spike in cholera cases, especially in the west department where most of the remaining IDPs are located. Over 80 cases have been reported just from the IDP camps in the capital.

Despite overwhelming evidence that United Nations troops were responsible for cholera’s introduction, two years have passed without the UN taking responsibility.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Although the full extent of the damage from Sandy has yet to be fully evaluated, the damage will likely be at least as great as that from Isaac. Prime Minister Lamothe said that the Haitian government would be issuing a plea for disaster aid in the coming days. The devastation brought on by Sandy and Isaac highlights the need for greater disaster risk reduction programs to ensure Haiti is not so susceptible to natural disasters.

The Haiti Reconstruction Fund, which has been the largest single recipient of donor contributions, has two projects which focus on disaster risk reduction in the south department, one of the hardest hit areas. While the UN’s $8 million dollar program has mostly been completed, the Inter-American Development Bank’s $14 million, 5-year project has yet to get off the ground. The project targets disaster mitigation works in Les Cayes and Camp Perrin. Both those communities were hit hard by flooding last week from Sandy.

While it will be important to react to the current disaster to ensure cholera’s spread is mitigated, IDPs receive the support they need, and the agricultural sector is strengthened, the hurricane also shines a light on Haiti’s vulnerability to natural disasters and the need for greater preparation and prevention measures.

 

A press statement [PDF] released today, co-signed by CEPR and a number of other organizations, states:

On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes, and humanitarian organizations renew their call for the United Nations and U.S. government to help Haiti install the clean water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the ongoing epidemic.

The cholera epidemic in Haiti has received less U.S. attention during the presidential campaign season, but it remains a critical problem for this Caribbean neighbor that is not being adequately addressed and is undermining broader aid efforts.  Last month, 260 new cholera cases were reported daily, and 2-3 children died a day.  Since the epidemic broke out in October 2010, 7,564 Haitians have reportedly died from cholera and some 600,000 persons (6% of the Haitian population) have been infected. The number is undoubtedly much higher, as cases in more remote areas are often unreported. As the World Health Organization has stated, those without access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation, and hygiene constitute the majority of cholera cases.

Two years after the epidemic started, not enough action has been taken to assist the Government of Haiti in acquiring essential water and sanitation infrastructure.  A regional coalition that includes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization is developing a plan with the Government of Haiti to build water and sanitation systems that will cost $2.2 billion. Despite this encouraging progress, the plan still needs to be finalized and funded before implementation can begin.

The U.N. especially has a legal and moral responsibility to play a leadership role in helping end the epidemic.  Independent scientific studies have established that cholera was brought to Haiti by troops from the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and that the waste disposal practices at the U.N. base allowed the bacteria to contaminate Haiti’s largest river system.  The undersigned groups call on the U.N. to commit long-term resources to work with the Government of Haiti to build water and sanitation systems that are critical to halting the continued spread of the disease.

This July, 104 members of Congress sent a letter to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., requesting that she urge the world body to act decisively to address Haiti’s cholera crisis. Congressional members Chris Smith and Albio Sires made a similar plea to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The undersigned groups urge Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton to fulfill these important appeals and to call on the U.N. to help Haiti acquire the necessary funding to develop the water and sanitation infrastructure needed to stop the epidemic.

Signatory Groups:

Alternative Chance

American Jewish World Service

Canada Haiti Action Network

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti

Grassroots International

Hastings to Haiti Partnership

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Just Foreign Policy

li,li,li! Read

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

New Media Advocacy Project

Other Worlds

The Haiti Support Group

TransAfrica Forum

 

A press statement [PDF] released today, co-signed by CEPR and a number of other organizations, states:

On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the cholera epidemic in Haiti, human rights groups, faith-based organizations, policy institutes, and humanitarian organizations renew their call for the United Nations and U.S. government to help Haiti install the clean water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the ongoing epidemic.

The cholera epidemic in Haiti has received less U.S. attention during the presidential campaign season, but it remains a critical problem for this Caribbean neighbor that is not being adequately addressed and is undermining broader aid efforts.  Last month, 260 new cholera cases were reported daily, and 2-3 children died a day.  Since the epidemic broke out in October 2010, 7,564 Haitians have reportedly died from cholera and some 600,000 persons (6% of the Haitian population) have been infected. The number is undoubtedly much higher, as cases in more remote areas are often unreported. As the World Health Organization has stated, those without access to safe drinking water, proper sanitation, and hygiene constitute the majority of cholera cases.

Two years after the epidemic started, not enough action has been taken to assist the Government of Haiti in acquiring essential water and sanitation infrastructure.  A regional coalition that includes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization is developing a plan with the Government of Haiti to build water and sanitation systems that will cost $2.2 billion. Despite this encouraging progress, the plan still needs to be finalized and funded before implementation can begin.

The U.N. especially has a legal and moral responsibility to play a leadership role in helping end the epidemic.  Independent scientific studies have established that cholera was brought to Haiti by troops from the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and that the waste disposal practices at the U.N. base allowed the bacteria to contaminate Haiti’s largest river system.  The undersigned groups call on the U.N. to commit long-term resources to work with the Government of Haiti to build water and sanitation systems that are critical to halting the continued spread of the disease.

This July, 104 members of Congress sent a letter to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., requesting that she urge the world body to act decisively to address Haiti’s cholera crisis. Congressional members Chris Smith and Albio Sires made a similar plea to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  The undersigned groups urge Ambassador Rice and Secretary Clinton to fulfill these important appeals and to call on the U.N. to help Haiti acquire the necessary funding to develop the water and sanitation infrastructure needed to stop the epidemic.

Signatory Groups:

Alternative Chance

American Jewish World Service

Canada Haiti Action Network

Center for Economic and Policy Research

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti

Grassroots International

Hastings to Haiti Partnership

Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti

Just Foreign Policy

li,li,li! Read

Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

New Media Advocacy Project

Other Worlds

The Haiti Support Group

TransAfrica Forum

 

As both Clintons and a coterie of celebrities and foreign investors flew into northern Haiti yesterday, some took the opportunity to praise Sae-A, the giant Korean garment manufacturer that opened a factory in the new Caracol industrial park. Hillary Clinton, for one, told reporters:

And I too want to thank Sae-A, because Sae-A took a decision that was something of a risk, never having worked in Haiti before, after a tremendous natural disaster that was so devastating. But they brought their expertise and they brought their commitment. And Chairman Kim, we thank you for everything that you and the leadership of Sae-A is doing.

But Sae-A’s decision to set up shop in Caracol could hardly be described as risky, as almost the entire cost of the project was borne by other actors. The New York Times, in an in-depth July investigation into the new park, reported that the land was provided free of charge by the Haitian government, the physical infrastructure was provided by the Inter-American Development Bank for around $100 million, and the United States government chipped in $124 million for  infrastructure, energy and housing services. The industrial park tenants are also granted significant tax-exemptions, and will only have to pay docking fees, which are estimated to be just $17,500 a year, hardly a boon to Haiti’s coffers. Sae-A, which reported over $1.1 billion in export business last year, committed to spending just $39.2 million on the factory. 

Additionally, U.S. legislation provides duty-free access to the U.S. market, which was used by Clinton to “woo” the apparel industry. Deborah Sontag of the Times sums it up:

In exchange, thanks to a deal that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker, Sae-A looked forward to tax exemptions, duty-free access to the United States, abundant cheap labor, factory sheds, a power plant, a new port and an expatriate residence outfitted with special kimchi refrigerators.

Of course, it is also the case that if labor costs go up, subsidies end, or business doesn’t boom, Sae-A can simply walk away. Though non-binding, a memorandum of understanding between the Haitian Ministry of Economy and Finance, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the IADB, and the United States Department of State includes the following provision:

It shall be acknowledged by the Participants that the continuation of participation under this MOU for Sae-A is contingent upon the existence of adequate infrastructure, labor force, labor policies, favorable access to export markets, access to sufficient funding and any other circumstances that affect the feasibility of investment by Sae-A.

Sae-A and other global apparel companies often compete in a race to the bottom, leaving countries in search of lower labor costs after wages rise. Due to rising expenses in Guatemala, Sae-A has closed their factory there. A local paper carried the story with the headline, “A Maquila Closes and Goes to Haiti.” A Sae-A spokesperson also told the New York Times that once trade preferences for Nicaragua end in 2014, “a lot of product orders now going to factories in Nicaragua can go through the Haiti operation.” But what’s preventing this from happening in Haiti down the road?

Mr. Aguerre, of the IADB sums it up:

Yes, it’s low-paying, yes, it’s unstable, yes, maybe tomorrow there will a better opportunity for firms elsewhere and they will just leave. But everyone thought this was a risk worth taking.

So, though there may not be much risk for Sae-A, there is a definite risk for the people of Haiti. There’s also conceivably a risk for the U.S. government, which is touting this as the “centerpiece” of their reconstruction efforts, as well as for the IADB, Haitian government and other entities that are providing financial backing for the project.

 

As both Clintons and a coterie of celebrities and foreign investors flew into northern Haiti yesterday, some took the opportunity to praise Sae-A, the giant Korean garment manufacturer that opened a factory in the new Caracol industrial park. Hillary Clinton, for one, told reporters:

And I too want to thank Sae-A, because Sae-A took a decision that was something of a risk, never having worked in Haiti before, after a tremendous natural disaster that was so devastating. But they brought their expertise and they brought their commitment. And Chairman Kim, we thank you for everything that you and the leadership of Sae-A is doing.

But Sae-A’s decision to set up shop in Caracol could hardly be described as risky, as almost the entire cost of the project was borne by other actors. The New York Times, in an in-depth July investigation into the new park, reported that the land was provided free of charge by the Haitian government, the physical infrastructure was provided by the Inter-American Development Bank for around $100 million, and the United States government chipped in $124 million for  infrastructure, energy and housing services. The industrial park tenants are also granted significant tax-exemptions, and will only have to pay docking fees, which are estimated to be just $17,500 a year, hardly a boon to Haiti’s coffers. Sae-A, which reported over $1.1 billion in export business last year, committed to spending just $39.2 million on the factory. 

Additionally, U.S. legislation provides duty-free access to the U.S. market, which was used by Clinton to “woo” the apparel industry. Deborah Sontag of the Times sums it up:

In exchange, thanks to a deal that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton helped broker, Sae-A looked forward to tax exemptions, duty-free access to the United States, abundant cheap labor, factory sheds, a power plant, a new port and an expatriate residence outfitted with special kimchi refrigerators.

Of course, it is also the case that if labor costs go up, subsidies end, or business doesn’t boom, Sae-A can simply walk away. Though non-binding, a memorandum of understanding between the Haitian Ministry of Economy and Finance, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the IADB, and the United States Department of State includes the following provision:

It shall be acknowledged by the Participants that the continuation of participation under this MOU for Sae-A is contingent upon the existence of adequate infrastructure, labor force, labor policies, favorable access to export markets, access to sufficient funding and any other circumstances that affect the feasibility of investment by Sae-A.

Sae-A and other global apparel companies often compete in a race to the bottom, leaving countries in search of lower labor costs after wages rise. Due to rising expenses in Guatemala, Sae-A has closed their factory there. A local paper carried the story with the headline, “A Maquila Closes and Goes to Haiti.” A Sae-A spokesperson also told the New York Times that once trade preferences for Nicaragua end in 2014, “a lot of product orders now going to factories in Nicaragua can go through the Haiti operation.” But what’s preventing this from happening in Haiti down the road?

Mr. Aguerre, of the IADB sums it up:

Yes, it’s low-paying, yes, it’s unstable, yes, maybe tomorrow there will a better opportunity for firms elsewhere and they will just leave. But everyone thought this was a risk worth taking.

So, though there may not be much risk for Sae-A, there is a definite risk for the people of Haiti. There’s also conceivably a risk for the U.S. government, which is touting this as the “centerpiece” of their reconstruction efforts, as well as for the IADB, Haitian government and other entities that are providing financial backing for the project.

 

Hillary and Bill Clinton arrived in Haiti today with a delegation of foreign investors and celebrities to showcase the Caracol industrial park, “the centerpiece of the U.S. effort to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake,” reports Trenton Daniel for the AP.  Government officials and international partners have touted the park’s potential to create thousands of jobs, but there have been a host of criticisms on social, environmental and labor issues. Speaking with the AP, sociologist Alex Dupuy notes:

“This is not a strategy that is meant to provide Haiti with any measure of sustainable development … The only reason those industries come to Haiti is because the country has the lowest wages in the region,” Dupuy said.

Sae-A will pay employees Haiti’s minimum wage, which is $5 a day. Workers will be eligible for bonuses based on performance.

Reports from the ground indicate that the factory is not complying with the minimum wage law, however. Etant Dupain, writing on the Let Haiti Live website, notes:

Before the official inauguration, several thousand employees have been working in the Caracol park for the last three months at a wage of 150 gourdes ($3.75 US) a day. Since October 1st, the new minimum wage law has gone into effect, with the government setting the minimum at 300 gourdes a day. Despite this, the managers of the factory operating at Caracol aren’t respecting the new official minimum wage.

The new minimum wage would be 200 gourdes, with piece rate employees earning 300. Caracol would be far from the only factory in Haiti not adequately compensating their employees. The most recent Better Work Haiti report, released last week, found that 21 of 22 factories covered in their analysis (Caracol is not covered yet) were non-compliant with minimum wage laws. This refers to the old minimum wage. Better Work is a joint program of the International Labor Organization, International Finance Corporation and the U.S. Department of Labor. Of course, whether employees are earning $3 or $5 a day, it is still far below what the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center determined to be a “living wage” for workers in the garment industry.

 

Hillary and Bill Clinton arrived in Haiti today with a delegation of foreign investors and celebrities to showcase the Caracol industrial park, “the centerpiece of the U.S. effort to help the country recover from the 2010 earthquake,” reports Trenton Daniel for the AP.  Government officials and international partners have touted the park’s potential to create thousands of jobs, but there have been a host of criticisms on social, environmental and labor issues. Speaking with the AP, sociologist Alex Dupuy notes:

“This is not a strategy that is meant to provide Haiti with any measure of sustainable development … The only reason those industries come to Haiti is because the country has the lowest wages in the region,” Dupuy said.

Sae-A will pay employees Haiti’s minimum wage, which is $5 a day. Workers will be eligible for bonuses based on performance.

Reports from the ground indicate that the factory is not complying with the minimum wage law, however. Etant Dupain, writing on the Let Haiti Live website, notes:

Before the official inauguration, several thousand employees have been working in the Caracol park for the last three months at a wage of 150 gourdes ($3.75 US) a day. Since October 1st, the new minimum wage law has gone into effect, with the government setting the minimum at 300 gourdes a day. Despite this, the managers of the factory operating at Caracol aren’t respecting the new official minimum wage.

The new minimum wage would be 200 gourdes, with piece rate employees earning 300. Caracol would be far from the only factory in Haiti not adequately compensating their employees. The most recent Better Work Haiti report, released last week, found that 21 of 22 factories covered in their analysis (Caracol is not covered yet) were non-compliant with minimum wage laws. This refers to the old minimum wage. Better Work is a joint program of the International Labor Organization, International Finance Corporation and the U.S. Department of Labor. Of course, whether employees are earning $3 or $5 a day, it is still far below what the AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Center determined to be a “living wage” for workers in the garment industry.

 

It has now been over two years since the first cholera death in Haiti after more than a century. Over 7,500 people in Haiti have died from the disease so far, and over 600,000 have been sickened. While there has been a drop in cholera cases in 2012 over 2011, Oliver Schulz, Doctors Without Borders’ Head of Mission in Haiti says, “We continue to see an average of 250 new cases each week in our facilities, but this is still a high number.”

Doctors Without Borders notes that

Reduced international funding is limiting the response of the humanitarian agencies working in the areas of medical care and providing access to clean water and sanitation.

“This year, MSF had to keep most of our CTCs open throughout the year because cholera  is far from being controlled. The measures to prevent and treat cholera are still not enough,” lamented Schulz.

In fact, the response capability of the Ministry of Health remains extremely low two years after the onset of the epidemic. As a result, during the most recent peak last May, MSF treated more than 70 percent of the total number of patients registered in Port-au-Prince.

Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to UN (MINUSTAH) troops as the cause of the disease outbreak, the UN has refused to accept responsibility. Notably, its own report on the origins of the epidemic attempted to place blame on Haiti’s poor sanitation and water infrastructure, rather than UN negligence. But BBC now reports that one of the authors of that report, Daniele Lantagne, is much more convinced that UN behavior is responsible:

The 2011 UN report – co-signed by [Lantagne] – acknowledged that inadequate toilets in the Nepalese UN camp in the mountain town of Mirabalais [sic] could have leaked the cholera bacterium into the nearby Meye River which flows into the country’s main waterways.

But the report stressed that the outbreak “was not the fault” of any “group or individual”.

The Panel of Experts added that the subsequent spread of the disease across Haiti was due to many factors – including the country’s deeply inadequate water supply and almost non-existent sewage disposal systems.

Now, Dr Lantagne says the new genome data (in addition to other evidence) has changed her view since she had co-authored the UN report which effectively said no-one was to blame.

 

 

“We can now say,” Dr Lantagne said, “that the most likely source of the introduction of cholera into Haiti was someone infected with the Nepal strain of cholera and associated with the United Nations Mirabalais camp.”

A few scientists have also sought to shift attention from the UN to environmental causes. Rita Colwell attributed the epidemic to a “perfect storm” of converging environmental factors. But epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux refutes Colwell’s hypothesis in a new article:

The cholera epidemic is therefore not the consequence of the “perfect storm” described by Rita Colwell, a renowned expert on cholera. For this scientist, a “perfect storm” of environmental circumstances in 2010 enabled the bacteria to surface, as the impoverished country was hit by a massive earthquake, a hurricane and a “very hot summer season.”

In reality, the epidemic started in an area spared by the earthquake, following a summer which was not especially hot and, last but not least, at the time Hurricane Tomas stroke the country, thousands of cholera cases and hundreds of deaths were already recorded.

As the BBC notes, thousands of cholera victims and their relatives are suing the UN for its role in causing the epidemic. A central goal for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and other groups seeking justice on cholera is to obtain adequate funding to bring Haiti’s water and sanitation system up to international standards. As Doctors Without Borders states:

Only long-term imporovements to water and sanitation will make it possible to contain cholera.

“This will take time, and this is why medical care for cholera patients remains a key challenge that the Haitian authorities need to address right now,” Schulz explained

It has now been over two years since the first cholera death in Haiti after more than a century. Over 7,500 people in Haiti have died from the disease so far, and over 600,000 have been sickened. While there has been a drop in cholera cases in 2012 over 2011, Oliver Schulz, Doctors Without Borders’ Head of Mission in Haiti says, “We continue to see an average of 250 new cases each week in our facilities, but this is still a high number.”

Doctors Without Borders notes that

Reduced international funding is limiting the response of the humanitarian agencies working in the areas of medical care and providing access to clean water and sanitation.

“This year, MSF had to keep most of our CTCs open throughout the year because cholera  is far from being controlled. The measures to prevent and treat cholera are still not enough,” lamented Schulz.

In fact, the response capability of the Ministry of Health remains extremely low two years after the onset of the epidemic. As a result, during the most recent peak last May, MSF treated more than 70 percent of the total number of patients registered in Port-au-Prince.

Despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to UN (MINUSTAH) troops as the cause of the disease outbreak, the UN has refused to accept responsibility. Notably, its own report on the origins of the epidemic attempted to place blame on Haiti’s poor sanitation and water infrastructure, rather than UN negligence. But BBC now reports that one of the authors of that report, Daniele Lantagne, is much more convinced that UN behavior is responsible:

The 2011 UN report – co-signed by [Lantagne] – acknowledged that inadequate toilets in the Nepalese UN camp in the mountain town of Mirabalais [sic] could have leaked the cholera bacterium into the nearby Meye River which flows into the country’s main waterways.

But the report stressed that the outbreak “was not the fault” of any “group or individual”.

The Panel of Experts added that the subsequent spread of the disease across Haiti was due to many factors – including the country’s deeply inadequate water supply and almost non-existent sewage disposal systems.

Now, Dr Lantagne says the new genome data (in addition to other evidence) has changed her view since she had co-authored the UN report which effectively said no-one was to blame.

 

 

“We can now say,” Dr Lantagne said, “that the most likely source of the introduction of cholera into Haiti was someone infected with the Nepal strain of cholera and associated with the United Nations Mirabalais camp.”

A few scientists have also sought to shift attention from the UN to environmental causes. Rita Colwell attributed the epidemic to a “perfect storm” of converging environmental factors. But epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux refutes Colwell’s hypothesis in a new article:

The cholera epidemic is therefore not the consequence of the “perfect storm” described by Rita Colwell, a renowned expert on cholera. For this scientist, a “perfect storm” of environmental circumstances in 2010 enabled the bacteria to surface, as the impoverished country was hit by a massive earthquake, a hurricane and a “very hot summer season.”

In reality, the epidemic started in an area spared by the earthquake, following a summer which was not especially hot and, last but not least, at the time Hurricane Tomas stroke the country, thousands of cholera cases and hundreds of deaths were already recorded.

As the BBC notes, thousands of cholera victims and their relatives are suing the UN for its role in causing the epidemic. A central goal for the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and other groups seeking justice on cholera is to obtain adequate funding to bring Haiti’s water and sanitation system up to international standards. As Doctors Without Borders states:

Only long-term imporovements to water and sanitation will make it possible to contain cholera.

“This will take time, and this is why medical care for cholera patients remains a key challenge that the Haitian authorities need to address right now,” Schulz explained

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston writes for AlterNet this week:

Over the past few decades, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has seen its staff level drop significantly at the same time as the amount of money under its discretion has rapidly increased. Over this time, USAID has stepped up its reliance on for-profit contractors to fill the void. The result, as Hillary Clinton stated in her confirmation hearing (USAID is part of the State Department), is that USAID has “turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver.”

To be sure, there are efforts are underway to slowly fix this. In the meantime, the status quo reigns, with perhaps nowhere serving as a better example of the pitfalls than Haiti. Since the devastating earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded some $450 million in contracts – with 70 percent of them going to DC-area contractors, the so-called “beltway bandits”. The largest USAID contractor in Haiti (and the world, for that matter), Chemonics has received some $177 million of this total. With such a large amount of resources going to one company, you might expect there to be vigilant oversight and strict guidelines. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken.

The USAID Inspector General released a report last week that shines some much-needed light onto the operations of USAID’s largest contractor. The report looks at the $53 million dollar Haiti Recovery Initiative run by Chemonics, the follow-up program to a $39 million program that began right after the quake. Among the findings in the audit: projects were “not on track”, the monitoring and evaluation system was weak and arbitrary, there was a lack of community involvement in project planning and they failed to get the appropriate environmental approvals before undertaking potentially damaging projects. This isn’t the first time Chemonics has been criticized for their work in Haiti . The same Inspector General found a host of similar problems with the original $39 million contract the year before, yet USAID turned around and gave Chemonics another $50 million anyway.

The same process had already played out before in Afghanistan. After USAID awarded a $100 million contract to Chemonics for work in the agricultural sector of Afghanistan, a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found significant problems with the program. Yet despite the documented problems, just like in Haiti, the next year USAID turned around and gave the same contractor another $100 million. The Inspector General also found numerous problems with that program.

To read the rest, click here.

 

CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston writes for AlterNet this week:

Over the past few decades, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has seen its staff level drop significantly at the same time as the amount of money under its discretion has rapidly increased. Over this time, USAID has stepped up its reliance on for-profit contractors to fill the void. The result, as Hillary Clinton stated in her confirmation hearing (USAID is part of the State Department), is that USAID has “turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver.”

To be sure, there are efforts are underway to slowly fix this. In the meantime, the status quo reigns, with perhaps nowhere serving as a better example of the pitfalls than Haiti. Since the devastating earthquake in January 2010, USAID has awarded some $450 million in contracts – with 70 percent of them going to DC-area contractors, the so-called “beltway bandits”. The largest USAID contractor in Haiti (and the world, for that matter), Chemonics has received some $177 million of this total. With such a large amount of resources going to one company, you might expect there to be vigilant oversight and strict guidelines. Unfortunately, you would be mistaken.

The USAID Inspector General released a report last week that shines some much-needed light onto the operations of USAID’s largest contractor. The report looks at the $53 million dollar Haiti Recovery Initiative run by Chemonics, the follow-up program to a $39 million program that began right after the quake. Among the findings in the audit: projects were “not on track”, the monitoring and evaluation system was weak and arbitrary, there was a lack of community involvement in project planning and they failed to get the appropriate environmental approvals before undertaking potentially damaging projects. This isn’t the first time Chemonics has been criticized for their work in Haiti . The same Inspector General found a host of similar problems with the original $39 million contract the year before, yet USAID turned around and gave Chemonics another $50 million anyway.

The same process had already played out before in Afghanistan. After USAID awarded a $100 million contract to Chemonics for work in the agricultural sector of Afghanistan, a 2005 Government Accountability Office report found significant problems with the program. Yet despite the documented problems, just like in Haiti, the next year USAID turned around and gave the same contractor another $100 million. The Inspector General also found numerous problems with that program.

To read the rest, click here.

 

Haiti’s leading human rights attorney Mario Joseph has been the subject of death threats and police surveillance and harassment in the past several months, along with other lawyers. As the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) reports, Joseph, IJDH Managing Attorney and the director of its Haitian affiliate Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) has received as many as 3-4 death threats a day, while police in vehicles with tinted windows have monitored the BAI office in Port-au-Prince and harassed and searched people leaving. Threats against BAI and Mario have also been spray painted on walls nearby.  While IJDH notes that Joseph has been the targets of threats in the past, it says “the current intimidation appears more organized, more persistent and more closely linked to the Haitian government than previous incidents.”

U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D – MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, condemned the threats this week, saying:

“As a long-time supporter of Haiti in the United States Congress, I am concerned by recent reports that suggest that Haitian attorneys and human rights advocates, including prominent attorney Mario Joesph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), are being targeted with political intimidation and threats of physical harm as a result of their legal representation of politically vulnerable individuals and groups,” said Conyers.

“The ability of an attorney to provide legal assistance free of harassment to any client is a critically important component of a well-functioning justice system. All necessary steps should be taken to protect these attorneys and advocates, who help ensure that all Haitians have equitable access to justice and due process. My office has contacted the State Department to express my concern about these recent reports.”

As the Miami Herald reported earlier this month, Joseph and other lawyers may be the targets of political persecution by the Martelly government. Chief Prosecutor of Port-au-Prince Jean Renel Sénatus claims Haiti’s Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon fired him after he refused to issue an arrest warrant for Joseph and 35 other “political opponents.” The Herald also reported that

Senatus also said that Josue Pierre-Louis, a presidential legal advisor and head of the six-member electoral council, asked him to serve warrants against two attorneys — Newton St. Juste and Andre Michel — who have brought corruption complaints against the presidential family and members of Haiti’s government.

Sanon, Sénatus claims, said the arrest warrants “would make the President very happy.” The reported arrest warrants followed Joseph’s summoning by Investigating Judge Jean Wilner Morin of the Port-au-Prince Trial Court in September to appear for questioning in what appears to have been another effort at harassment and intimidation.

Amnesty International issued an October 4 alert about the attorneys

Urging authorities to immediately and independently investigate the accusation of threats and intimidation towards the lawyers – ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice – and providing effective protection to the lawyers according to their wishes;

Asking the Haitian authorities to clarify why the arrest of the 36 political opponents is being sought and insist that any accusation must be carried out under internationally recognizable criminal offences;

Asking authorities to ensure that anyone charged is given a fair trial in compliance with international standards.

The National Lawyers Guild and a number of other organizations have also condemned the threats and intimidation against Joseph and the other attorneys.

Joseph and BAI have taken on a number of politically sensitive cases, including efforts to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier – whom the Martelly administration has been reluctant to pursue, the defense of government critics, and of course the claim against the United Nations on behalf of thousands of cholera victims. Joseph has also helped impede the forced evictions of internally displaced persons from camps, and has pursued rape and gender based violence (GBV) cases on behalf of women and children living in the camps, among other cases.

Joseph said in an interview this week with the Pacifica Evening News that the threats and intimidation began after a judge dismissed political violence charges against Duvalier in January 2012, and intensified soon after Joseph filed a request for an investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) into what he termed “the deterioration and contempt for human rights in Haiti” under the Martelly government. IJDH also recently released a report on the Martelly administration’s intimidation and “stonewalling” of the media, one of the concerns Joseph highlighted in his appeal to the IACHR.

It would be difficult to overstate Joseph’s importance in confronting the powerful and the work that he, BAI and IJDH have done to bring rule of law and justice to Haiti. Joseph and IJDH Director Brian Concannon were responsible for the convictions of 53 soldiers and death squad members in Haiti’s landmark Raboteau Massacre trial. Martelly provoked outrage early in his term when he nominated Bernard Gousse to be Prime Minister, since Gousse had shown sympathy for Louis Jodel Chamblain, Jean Tatoune, and others convicted for their crimes in the massacre and had previously served as Justice Minister during the unelected interim regime following the 2004 coup d’etat, in which Haiti experienced some of the worst political violence in the hemisphere.

Haiti’s leading human rights attorney Mario Joseph has been the subject of death threats and police surveillance and harassment in the past several months, along with other lawyers. As the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) reports, Joseph, IJDH Managing Attorney and the director of its Haitian affiliate Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) has received as many as 3-4 death threats a day, while police in vehicles with tinted windows have monitored the BAI office in Port-au-Prince and harassed and searched people leaving. Threats against BAI and Mario have also been spray painted on walls nearby.  While IJDH notes that Joseph has been the targets of threats in the past, it says “the current intimidation appears more organized, more persistent and more closely linked to the Haitian government than previous incidents.”

U.S. Congressman John Conyers (D – MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, condemned the threats this week, saying:

“As a long-time supporter of Haiti in the United States Congress, I am concerned by recent reports that suggest that Haitian attorneys and human rights advocates, including prominent attorney Mario Joesph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), are being targeted with political intimidation and threats of physical harm as a result of their legal representation of politically vulnerable individuals and groups,” said Conyers.

“The ability of an attorney to provide legal assistance free of harassment to any client is a critically important component of a well-functioning justice system. All necessary steps should be taken to protect these attorneys and advocates, who help ensure that all Haitians have equitable access to justice and due process. My office has contacted the State Department to express my concern about these recent reports.”

As the Miami Herald reported earlier this month, Joseph and other lawyers may be the targets of political persecution by the Martelly government. Chief Prosecutor of Port-au-Prince Jean Renel Sénatus claims Haiti’s Justice Minister Jean Renel Sanon fired him after he refused to issue an arrest warrant for Joseph and 35 other “political opponents.” The Herald also reported that

Senatus also said that Josue Pierre-Louis, a presidential legal advisor and head of the six-member electoral council, asked him to serve warrants against two attorneys — Newton St. Juste and Andre Michel — who have brought corruption complaints against the presidential family and members of Haiti’s government.

Sanon, Sénatus claims, said the arrest warrants “would make the President very happy.” The reported arrest warrants followed Joseph’s summoning by Investigating Judge Jean Wilner Morin of the Port-au-Prince Trial Court in September to appear for questioning in what appears to have been another effort at harassment and intimidation.

Amnesty International issued an October 4 alert about the attorneys

Urging authorities to immediately and independently investigate the accusation of threats and intimidation towards the lawyers – ensuring that those responsible are brought to justice – and providing effective protection to the lawyers according to their wishes;

Asking the Haitian authorities to clarify why the arrest of the 36 political opponents is being sought and insist that any accusation must be carried out under internationally recognizable criminal offences;

Asking authorities to ensure that anyone charged is given a fair trial in compliance with international standards.

The National Lawyers Guild and a number of other organizations have also condemned the threats and intimidation against Joseph and the other attorneys.

Joseph and BAI have taken on a number of politically sensitive cases, including efforts to prosecute former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier – whom the Martelly administration has been reluctant to pursue, the defense of government critics, and of course the claim against the United Nations on behalf of thousands of cholera victims. Joseph has also helped impede the forced evictions of internally displaced persons from camps, and has pursued rape and gender based violence (GBV) cases on behalf of women and children living in the camps, among other cases.

Joseph said in an interview this week with the Pacifica Evening News that the threats and intimidation began after a judge dismissed political violence charges against Duvalier in January 2012, and intensified soon after Joseph filed a request for an investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) into what he termed “the deterioration and contempt for human rights in Haiti” under the Martelly government. IJDH also recently released a report on the Martelly administration’s intimidation and “stonewalling” of the media, one of the concerns Joseph highlighted in his appeal to the IACHR.

It would be difficult to overstate Joseph’s importance in confronting the powerful and the work that he, BAI and IJDH have done to bring rule of law and justice to Haiti. Joseph and IJDH Director Brian Concannon were responsible for the convictions of 53 soldiers and death squad members in Haiti’s landmark Raboteau Massacre trial. Martelly provoked outrage early in his term when he nominated Bernard Gousse to be Prime Minister, since Gousse had shown sympathy for Louis Jodel Chamblain, Jean Tatoune, and others convicted for their crimes in the massacre and had previously served as Justice Minister during the unelected interim regime following the 2004 coup d’etat, in which Haiti experienced some of the worst political violence in the hemisphere.

Nearly three years after the earthquake of January 2010, durable housing solutions remain nonexistent while tens of thousands remain at risk of forced evictions. According to the International Organization for Migration, there are currently 369,000 individuals residing in 541 official IDP camps throughout Haiti. Yet over 20 percent of the remaining individuals are in constant risk of eviction. Fortunately, camp residents are organizing to fight back. Public Radio International’s The World reports:

Enter Patrice Florvilus. After the earthquake, the attorney formed an organization that represents residents of tent camps who’ve been threatened with eviction.

“Our strategy is to stop evictions by making landlords follow the law, which can mean a lengthy legal process. And that’s what the landlord wants to avoid,” Florvilus said.

It doesn’t always work, but a legal defeat can sometimes turn into a de facto victory. In one case, the mayor of Delmas ordered families off government land. A court upheld the eviction order. But then the mayor backed off — locals say because of organized opposition.

But activists have faced many difficulties, including intimidation and jail time. Meena Jagannath reported last month on the case of David Oxygène, an activist who was imprisoned for over two months. He was arrested during one of his group’s weekly protests against the Martelly government calling for improved social policies, including adequate housing.

More recently, a protest organized by camp residents to protest the lack of adequate housing was cancelled following threatening phone calls and other forms of intimidation. GlobalPost reports:

She [Alexis Erkart of Other Worlds] says fear and fatigue run high in the camps, and residents are consistently faced with the prospect of forced evictions, but have nowhere else to go.

Erkert told GlobalPost yesterday via email that yesterday’s protest was being organized by a number of camps, but that “a number of camp residents reported receiving threatening phone calls and thugs coming to the camps telling people not to participate in the protest. There was enough fear that they decided to hold off.”

“More and more camps are evicted with no housing plan in place, without viable options for the future,” said Erkert. “They have no access to the government, and limited access to the media. It makes me deeply sad that today they were stripped of one of the only means available to them to make their voices heard.”

The most recent report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 61,000 have been evicted from camps already, with over 78,000 additional camp residents facing the threat of eviction. In addition, some 78,600 individuals were “resettled” with some support from the IOM after facing eviction, though it is likely that in many of these cases the camp residents felt like they had no other option but to face eviction or accept a small sum and fend for themselves.

On the other hand, the government and international communities’ flagship resettlement program, 16/6 has had only a minor impact on the camp population. A press release marking the one-year anniversary of the program says that some 44,000 people have been resettled through the program, significantly less than has been forcibly evicted. Also, only 60 of the remaining IDP sites are planned to benefit from return programs similar to 16/6. If carried out these would only benefit around 27,000 of the remaining 369,000 IDPs. The 16/6 plan also calls for the rehabilitation of neighborhoods and the construction of new housing, yet so far these aspects have lagged far behind the removal of residents from camps. As of April, only 5,000 news houses had been built throughout the country by NGOs and international partners.

Haiti Grassroots Watch recently reported on the failure of the large housing expo that was meant to be a jumping off point for the provision of new housing:

The project consisted of an exposition of some 60 model homes for post-earthquake reconstruction, and the building of an “Exemplar Community” for 150 families, planned for former farmland outside the capital Port-au-Prince.

Altogether, the BBBC cost over two million dollars in “reconstruction” funding. Most went for the Expo that was barely visited and whose models homes today sit empty, as well as for the Exemplar Community – a community that was never built.

But nobody carried the projects forward, nor does anyone seem to be bothered with them today. Rather than housing earthquake victim families as the government had promised, 14 months later, the 67 model homes are empty.

Some large public plazas have been cleared, the area around the National Palace is now empty and the sprawling tent camp near the airport has all but disappeared, but while the problem may have receded from public sight, the displacement crisis and lack of adequate housing is no less an issue. Meanwhile, those organizing to fight for their right to housing are facing an increasingly hostile environment.

For more information on the lack of adequate housing and forced evictions, visit the Under Tents website.

 

Nearly three years after the earthquake of January 2010, durable housing solutions remain nonexistent while tens of thousands remain at risk of forced evictions. According to the International Organization for Migration, there are currently 369,000 individuals residing in 541 official IDP camps throughout Haiti. Yet over 20 percent of the remaining individuals are in constant risk of eviction. Fortunately, camp residents are organizing to fight back. Public Radio International’s The World reports:

Enter Patrice Florvilus. After the earthquake, the attorney formed an organization that represents residents of tent camps who’ve been threatened with eviction.

“Our strategy is to stop evictions by making landlords follow the law, which can mean a lengthy legal process. And that’s what the landlord wants to avoid,” Florvilus said.

It doesn’t always work, but a legal defeat can sometimes turn into a de facto victory. In one case, the mayor of Delmas ordered families off government land. A court upheld the eviction order. But then the mayor backed off — locals say because of organized opposition.

But activists have faced many difficulties, including intimidation and jail time. Meena Jagannath reported last month on the case of David Oxygène, an activist who was imprisoned for over two months. He was arrested during one of his group’s weekly protests against the Martelly government calling for improved social policies, including adequate housing.

More recently, a protest organized by camp residents to protest the lack of adequate housing was cancelled following threatening phone calls and other forms of intimidation. GlobalPost reports:

She [Alexis Erkart of Other Worlds] says fear and fatigue run high in the camps, and residents are consistently faced with the prospect of forced evictions, but have nowhere else to go.

Erkert told GlobalPost yesterday via email that yesterday’s protest was being organized by a number of camps, but that “a number of camp residents reported receiving threatening phone calls and thugs coming to the camps telling people not to participate in the protest. There was enough fear that they decided to hold off.”

“More and more camps are evicted with no housing plan in place, without viable options for the future,” said Erkert. “They have no access to the government, and limited access to the media. It makes me deeply sad that today they were stripped of one of the only means available to them to make their voices heard.”

The most recent report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that 61,000 have been evicted from camps already, with over 78,000 additional camp residents facing the threat of eviction. In addition, some 78,600 individuals were “resettled” with some support from the IOM after facing eviction, though it is likely that in many of these cases the camp residents felt like they had no other option but to face eviction or accept a small sum and fend for themselves.

On the other hand, the government and international communities’ flagship resettlement program, 16/6 has had only a minor impact on the camp population. A press release marking the one-year anniversary of the program says that some 44,000 people have been resettled through the program, significantly less than has been forcibly evicted. Also, only 60 of the remaining IDP sites are planned to benefit from return programs similar to 16/6. If carried out these would only benefit around 27,000 of the remaining 369,000 IDPs. The 16/6 plan also calls for the rehabilitation of neighborhoods and the construction of new housing, yet so far these aspects have lagged far behind the removal of residents from camps. As of April, only 5,000 news houses had been built throughout the country by NGOs and international partners.

Haiti Grassroots Watch recently reported on the failure of the large housing expo that was meant to be a jumping off point for the provision of new housing:

The project consisted of an exposition of some 60 model homes for post-earthquake reconstruction, and the building of an “Exemplar Community” for 150 families, planned for former farmland outside the capital Port-au-Prince.

Altogether, the BBBC cost over two million dollars in “reconstruction” funding. Most went for the Expo that was barely visited and whose models homes today sit empty, as well as for the Exemplar Community – a community that was never built.

But nobody carried the projects forward, nor does anyone seem to be bothered with them today. Rather than housing earthquake victim families as the government had promised, 14 months later, the 67 model homes are empty.

Some large public plazas have been cleared, the area around the National Palace is now empty and the sprawling tent camp near the airport has all but disappeared, but while the problem may have receded from public sight, the displacement crisis and lack of adequate housing is no less an issue. Meanwhile, those organizing to fight for their right to housing are facing an increasingly hostile environment.

For more information on the lack of adequate housing and forced evictions, visit the Under Tents website.

 

The USAID Inspector General (OIG) released an audit this weekend of Chemonics’ Haiti Recovery Initiative II program (HRI-II), funded by USAID. HRI-II, the successor to the HRI program which began right after the earthquake, aims to “help Haiti strengthen its economy and public institutions in the three strategic development corridors of Port-au-Prince, Saint-Marc, and Cap-Haitien,” according to the OIG. But, as the Associated Press reports today:

A newly released audit says the largest U.S. contractor working to stabilize Haiti after the 2010 earthquake is “not on track” to compete its assignments on schedule, has a weak monitoring system and is not adequately involving community members.

The audit is the second since the earthquake to find significant problems with Chemonics’ work in Haiti. The AP reported in December 2010:

And an audit this fall by USAID’s Inspector General found that more than 70 percent of the funds given to the two largest U.S. contractors for a cash for work project in Haiti was spent on equipment and materials. As a result, just 8,000 Haitians a day were being hired by June, instead of the planned 25,000 a day, according to the IG.

Nevertheless, Chemonics has been the largest single recipient of post-earthquake funding from USAID. For the two HRI programs, Chemonics has received $103.8 million. This same process played out in Afghanistan, where despite consistently failing to produce results, Chemonics continued to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

Weak Monitoring and Evaluation

One consistent pattern that has clearly emerged in the aftermath of the earthquake is the lack of oversight of contractors by USAID. As we have described before, after years of hollowing out USAID, it has “turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver,” in the words of Hillary Clinton. In turn, much of the monitoring and evaluation is actually the responsibility of the contractor itself. USAID’s contract with Chemonics contains numerous reporting requirements, yet allows the contractor to fulfill most of them without any oversight. Chemonics is required to keep an “activity database,” but the contract notes that Chemonics is responsible “for ensuring that the database contains accurate, complete, and up-to-date information.” Additionally, the contract states that USAID and Chemonics “are expected to jointly develop a system of processes and tools for the monitoring and evaluation of the country program.”

As the newly released audit finds however, both the database and the evaluation tools were poorly implemented and “made it difficult to measure the program’s impact,” as well as contributed to delays which have made the program “not on track to complete all activities.”

 

The OIG notes that the performance indicators that Chemonics developed were “not well-defined” and that the “activity database” “did not have enough information for [the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives, OTI] to see whether the activity was on track to end on time and to meet its objectives. “ In one example, the OIG found that the entry in the database for the temporary parliament building built with USAID funds simply stated:

“The subcontractor will be responsible for the following:
1)Assembling and installation of steel-framed structures; 2) Connection of utilities.

Going on to note that, “No dates or estimated timelines were included.” Of course, this is the same temporary parliament building that was left vacant for months after it was “inaugurated.” As Jacob Kushner and Jean Pharés Jérôme reported in March:

But more than four months later, that location remains vacant. The building is scattered with woodwork trimmings and debris from a costly ongoing renovation paid for by the Haitian treasury because legislators say the United States never finished the job. And critics in Haiti charge that the unfinished work and empty building stand as a powerful metaphor for much of what is wrong with USAID’s approach to development in Haiti: that it lacks coordination with and input from the Haitians themselves about how best to undertake reconstruction projects.

Of course, this is not just a problem with Chemonics, but with USAID/OTI, the office that gave them the contract. As the OIG notes, “All of the problems discussed in this finding stemmed from the fact that OTI did not make monitoring and evaluation a priority early in the HRI-II’s implementation.”

Lack of Oversight

When the OIG audited Chemonics in 2010, perhaps the most damning finding was that OTI was not conducting internal financial reviews despite that the fact that Chemonics was “expending millions of dollars rapidly on [Cash-for-Work] programs in a high-risk environment.” It seems as though little has changed in the subsequent years, as the newly released audit finds that:

OTI has conducted only one evaluation for HRI-II so far, and it took place in June 2011 to discuss and draft OTI’s strategy for Haiti, to build the new HRI-II team, and to propose ideas of where to conduct activities.

This despite the fact that “According to the HRI-II contract, program monitoring efforts should include regular evaluations of the program, as well as the activities… In general, they should be conducted between two and four times a year.”

Lack of Community Involvement

The lack of involvement of the local community has been one of the main points of criticism of the aid industry in Haiti, and on this front the audit finds Chemonics at fault as well. The OIG finds, “not all activities implemented have involved community participation in a way that guarantees sustainability.” In one especially egregious example, Chemonics

used contractors from Port-au-Prince to implement a number of activities in Cap-Haitien and Saint-Marc; these contractors brought their own people to do the jobs instead of hiring locals. As a result, residents saw jobs in their neighborhoods being done by outsiders, and without an understanding of the activities, they did not see how anyone local benefitted.

The OIG also found that “urban beautification” projects failed for similar reasons. The OIG writes, “The purpose of these projects was to improve public areas by installing plants and benches, as well as doing minor masonry work, and to project “a positive image of what role the nearby Caracol industrial park and other upcoming economic investments will play in citizens’ lives.” Although Chemonics did do some plantings, “they died from lack of care.” Meanwhile:

According to the project’s final evaluation report, residents did not understand how the activity led to the beautification of the area nor did they associate it with the industrial park. Limonade’s mayor said the municipality could have been involved more in planning the activity to ensure its success.

The Financials

Despite a growing record of a failure to produce and a number of OIG audits finding significant problems in the implementation of their programs, Chemonics has continued to receive tens of millions of dollars for Haiti projects, and hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. For fiscal year 2011, Chemonics received $735 million dollars in contracts from USAID, more than any other vendor.  According to publically available information, Chemonics has received over $175 million for their work just in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.

The OIG noted in their audit that:

Budget line items in the contract provided for grants under contract ($37.3 million) and “non-grant under contract” activities, such as direct procurement of goods and services ($3.3 million) for a total of $40.6 million. As of February 2012, 141 activities worth about $22.9 million had been developed and approved, leaving $17.7 million available for new activities to be approved, implemented, completed, and closed in the 7 months left.”

Yet despite having over $17 million left, and not being on track to complete their projects, USAID has allocated an additional $23.3 million to Chemonics for the HRI-II project since February 2012, according to the Federal Procurement Database System. As for how much of this gets spent in Haiti and how much goes to overhead and back to their Washington DC headquarters, there is no information available. Documents obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by HRRW have redacted any cost information and the mandated reporting requirements on who received funds were not released. The cost information was redacted because it is considered proprietary information, presumably of the contractor, yet the AP reported recently on their quest to obtain financial information from USAID contractors in Haiti:

When the AP asked for a budget breakdown, FHI 360 spokeswoman Liza Morris said, “We were pulling that for you but were told that it was proprietary by our funder.”

Who is the funder?

“Our funder,” she said, “is USAID.”

Reform and Pushback

A key piece of USAID reform initiative is supposed to be to move away from their reliance on these large for-profit contractors and shift more aid to local country systems. USAID Administrator Shah said just last week that their goal was to have 30 percent of USAID funds going to local organizations or governments by 2015. As we pointed out, this seems incredibly optimistic since at this point less than 1 percent of USAID funds are channeled directly to Haitian organizations. USAID has a long way to go, and unfortunately the road is not being made easier by the for-profit aid world. John Norris, writing in Foreign Policy, explains:

The theory behind relying more on local institutions is simple and compelling: If the goal of development is to build sustainable local capacity and ownership, why not have countries play a larger role in helping help themselves? Not only is this good development policy in countries where proper management controls are in place, it also has the potential to save American taxpayers a great deal of money.

U.S. contractors, looking at losing large amounts of revenue, were not about to take this lying down. The Professional Services Council (PSC), an umbrella group of government contracting firms, quickly hired lobbyists to push back against procurement reform and helped establish the Coalition of International Development Companies, an advocacy coalition of 50 contractors touting the role of “America’s most effective, efficient and innovative international development companies” in advancing the national interest. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but increased lobbying funded by the PSC directly preceded a sharply worded letter from the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight, Rep. Darrell Issa, to USAID questioning the wisdom of procurement reform. The letter hammered home one of the key arguments that contractors had been using against channeling more money directly to developing-country institutions: the threat of waste and corruption by foreigners.

Of course, with hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded to for-profit firms each year, and the lack of oversight and evaluation of those firms well established, the threat of waste and corruption by them is a much greater worry.

 

The USAID Inspector General (OIG) released an audit this weekend of Chemonics’ Haiti Recovery Initiative II program (HRI-II), funded by USAID. HRI-II, the successor to the HRI program which began right after the earthquake, aims to “help Haiti strengthen its economy and public institutions in the three strategic development corridors of Port-au-Prince, Saint-Marc, and Cap-Haitien,” according to the OIG. But, as the Associated Press reports today:

A newly released audit says the largest U.S. contractor working to stabilize Haiti after the 2010 earthquake is “not on track” to compete its assignments on schedule, has a weak monitoring system and is not adequately involving community members.

The audit is the second since the earthquake to find significant problems with Chemonics’ work in Haiti. The AP reported in December 2010:

And an audit this fall by USAID’s Inspector General found that more than 70 percent of the funds given to the two largest U.S. contractors for a cash for work project in Haiti was spent on equipment and materials. As a result, just 8,000 Haitians a day were being hired by June, instead of the planned 25,000 a day, according to the IG.

Nevertheless, Chemonics has been the largest single recipient of post-earthquake funding from USAID. For the two HRI programs, Chemonics has received $103.8 million. This same process played out in Afghanistan, where despite consistently failing to produce results, Chemonics continued to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

Weak Monitoring and Evaluation

One consistent pattern that has clearly emerged in the aftermath of the earthquake is the lack of oversight of contractors by USAID. As we have described before, after years of hollowing out USAID, it has “turned into more of a contracting agency than an operational agency with the ability to deliver,” in the words of Hillary Clinton. In turn, much of the monitoring and evaluation is actually the responsibility of the contractor itself. USAID’s contract with Chemonics contains numerous reporting requirements, yet allows the contractor to fulfill most of them without any oversight. Chemonics is required to keep an “activity database,” but the contract notes that Chemonics is responsible “for ensuring that the database contains accurate, complete, and up-to-date information.” Additionally, the contract states that USAID and Chemonics “are expected to jointly develop a system of processes and tools for the monitoring and evaluation of the country program.”

As the newly released audit finds however, both the database and the evaluation tools were poorly implemented and “made it difficult to measure the program’s impact,” as well as contributed to delays which have made the program “not on track to complete all activities.”

 

The OIG notes that the performance indicators that Chemonics developed were “not well-defined” and that the “activity database” “did not have enough information for [the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives, OTI] to see whether the activity was on track to end on time and to meet its objectives. “ In one example, the OIG found that the entry in the database for the temporary parliament building built with USAID funds simply stated:

“The subcontractor will be responsible for the following:
1)Assembling and installation of steel-framed structures; 2) Connection of utilities.

Going on to note that, “No dates or estimated timelines were included.” Of course, this is the same temporary parliament building that was left vacant for months after it was “inaugurated.” As Jacob Kushner and Jean Pharés Jérôme reported in March:

But more than four months later, that location remains vacant. The building is scattered with woodwork trimmings and debris from a costly ongoing renovation paid for by the Haitian treasury because legislators say the United States never finished the job. And critics in Haiti charge that the unfinished work and empty building stand as a powerful metaphor for much of what is wrong with USAID’s approach to development in Haiti: that it lacks coordination with and input from the Haitians themselves about how best to undertake reconstruction projects.

Of course, this is not just a problem with Chemonics, but with USAID/OTI, the office that gave them the contract. As the OIG notes, “All of the problems discussed in this finding stemmed from the fact that OTI did not make monitoring and evaluation a priority early in the HRI-II’s implementation.”

Lack of Oversight

When the OIG audited Chemonics in 2010, perhaps the most damning finding was that OTI was not conducting internal financial reviews despite that the fact that Chemonics was “expending millions of dollars rapidly on [Cash-for-Work] programs in a high-risk environment.” It seems as though little has changed in the subsequent years, as the newly released audit finds that:

OTI has conducted only one evaluation for HRI-II so far, and it took place in June 2011 to discuss and draft OTI’s strategy for Haiti, to build the new HRI-II team, and to propose ideas of where to conduct activities.

This despite the fact that “According to the HRI-II contract, program monitoring efforts should include regular evaluations of the program, as well as the activities… In general, they should be conducted between two and four times a year.”

Lack of Community Involvement

The lack of involvement of the local community has been one of the main points of criticism of the aid industry in Haiti, and on this front the audit finds Chemonics at fault as well. The OIG finds, “not all activities implemented have involved community participation in a way that guarantees sustainability.” In one especially egregious example, Chemonics

used contractors from Port-au-Prince to implement a number of activities in Cap-Haitien and Saint-Marc; these contractors brought their own people to do the jobs instead of hiring locals. As a result, residents saw jobs in their neighborhoods being done by outsiders, and without an understanding of the activities, they did not see how anyone local benefitted.

The OIG also found that “urban beautification” projects failed for similar reasons. The OIG writes, “The purpose of these projects was to improve public areas by installing plants and benches, as well as doing minor masonry work, and to project “a positive image of what role the nearby Caracol industrial park and other upcoming economic investments will play in citizens’ lives.” Although Chemonics did do some plantings, “they died from lack of care.” Meanwhile:

According to the project’s final evaluation report, residents did not understand how the activity led to the beautification of the area nor did they associate it with the industrial park. Limonade’s mayor said the municipality could have been involved more in planning the activity to ensure its success.

The Financials

Despite a growing record of a failure to produce and a number of OIG audits finding significant problems in the implementation of their programs, Chemonics has continued to receive tens of millions of dollars for Haiti projects, and hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. For fiscal year 2011, Chemonics received $735 million dollars in contracts from USAID, more than any other vendor.  According to publically available information, Chemonics has received over $175 million for their work just in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake.

The OIG noted in their audit that:

Budget line items in the contract provided for grants under contract ($37.3 million) and “non-grant under contract” activities, such as direct procurement of goods and services ($3.3 million) for a total of $40.6 million. As of February 2012, 141 activities worth about $22.9 million had been developed and approved, leaving $17.7 million available for new activities to be approved, implemented, completed, and closed in the 7 months left.”

Yet despite having over $17 million left, and not being on track to complete their projects, USAID has allocated an additional $23.3 million to Chemonics for the HRI-II project since February 2012, according to the Federal Procurement Database System. As for how much of this gets spent in Haiti and how much goes to overhead and back to their Washington DC headquarters, there is no information available. Documents obtained from Freedom of Information Act requests submitted by HRRW have redacted any cost information and the mandated reporting requirements on who received funds were not released. The cost information was redacted because it is considered proprietary information, presumably of the contractor, yet the AP reported recently on their quest to obtain financial information from USAID contractors in Haiti:

When the AP asked for a budget breakdown, FHI 360 spokeswoman Liza Morris said, “We were pulling that for you but were told that it was proprietary by our funder.”

Who is the funder?

“Our funder,” she said, “is USAID.”

Reform and Pushback

A key piece of USAID reform initiative is supposed to be to move away from their reliance on these large for-profit contractors and shift more aid to local country systems. USAID Administrator Shah said just last week that their goal was to have 30 percent of USAID funds going to local organizations or governments by 2015. As we pointed out, this seems incredibly optimistic since at this point less than 1 percent of USAID funds are channeled directly to Haitian organizations. USAID has a long way to go, and unfortunately the road is not being made easier by the for-profit aid world. John Norris, writing in Foreign Policy, explains:

The theory behind relying more on local institutions is simple and compelling: If the goal of development is to build sustainable local capacity and ownership, why not have countries play a larger role in helping help themselves? Not only is this good development policy in countries where proper management controls are in place, it also has the potential to save American taxpayers a great deal of money.

U.S. contractors, looking at losing large amounts of revenue, were not about to take this lying down. The Professional Services Council (PSC), an umbrella group of government contracting firms, quickly hired lobbyists to push back against procurement reform and helped establish the Coalition of International Development Companies, an advocacy coalition of 50 contractors touting the role of “America’s most effective, efficient and innovative international development companies” in advancing the national interest. Perhaps it was a coincidence, but increased lobbying funded by the PSC directly preceded a sharply worded letter from the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight, Rep. Darrell Issa, to USAID questioning the wisdom of procurement reform. The letter hammered home one of the key arguments that contractors had been using against channeling more money directly to developing-country institutions: the threat of waste and corruption by foreigners.

Of course, with hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded to for-profit firms each year, and the lack of oversight and evaluation of those firms well established, the threat of waste and corruption by them is a much greater worry.

 

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