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.

In the weeks prior to the 2nd anniversary of Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, an unprecedented U.S. State Department public relations offensive has unfolded. On December 28 the U.S. State Department released 11 fact sheets, celebrating the achievements of the U.S. humanitarian and development assistance in Haiti in areas ranging from shelter to food security.  To make sure the message got through to journalists, on January 6th the U.S. government partnered up with UN entities and held a joint press teleconference on Haiti to discuss the “amazing” work done removing rubble and providing clean water and shelter to those made homeless by the quake.

The effort continued with an op-ed by Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that appeared on January 9thin the Huffington Post.  The piece was then sent out widely by the State Department public affairs office. Finally, on the day of the anniversary, additional op-eds were published by Rajiv Shah, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Mark Feierstein, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID.  Shah and Feierstein appeared to have received the same memo: their talking points were strikingly similar and the two articles had nearly the same titles “Haiti Is on the Move” and “Haiti ‘a country undeniably on the move’”.

Clearly, there is heightened concern – within the U.S. foreign policy machine – about the perception of U.S. efforts in Haiti, given the increased press scrutiny generated by the 2nd quake anniversary commemorations.  A lot of money has been spent – $2.2 billion by the US alone according to their fact sheet on funding – and it’s important to show some results after two years.  And, apparently, there are plenty of results on display, as Cheryl Mills has emphasized in her piece, which rolls out ten impressive-sounding achievements.  But are these achievements real, and – if they are – do they really represent significant steps forward?   Let’s try to go beyond the hype by taking a closer look at Cheryl Mills’ article “Haiti – Two Years Post-Earthquake: What You May Not Know,” and providing the reader with a few additional facts that Mills and the U.S. State Department may prefer you not know: 

1. Cheryl Mills:  “Almost two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians living in tent shelters after the January 2010 earthquake have left camps, many returning to houses that have undergone structural improvements or moving into temporary shelters and permanent homes.”

Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch:  Certainly a reduction in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) sounds like a positive development, but did you check to see where the folks who left the camps went, and why they left?   According to an International Organization of Migration (IOM) study from last March (by which time the vast majority of the IDP population reduction had already taken place) found that many people were leaving the camps for even more precarious living situations, not for new homes or T-shelters.  Between June 2010 and March 2011 over 230,000 people were evicted, accounting for much of the decline in the IDP population.

CM:  “The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has completed more than 28,500 temporary shelters, housing approximately 143,000 people. The U.S. government has also funded repairs to more than 6,000 “yellow” structures — those that were deemed structurally safe if repairs are made. Today, more than 40,000 have returned to those homes.”

HRRW:  The so called temporary shelters – or “T-Shelters” – were originally meant to be completed before the first hurricane season, but as a recent independent evaluation found the plans have still not been completed and the shelters ended up costing $530 million, as compared to $187 million as originally planned. Additionally, the evaluation found that Haitians were generally excluded from the planning and implementation of temporary shelter solutions. As one interviewee told the evaluation team, “Affected people were not consulted nor their capacities considered, the response was what those with the [foreign] money decided.” As for the yellow houses, the fact that repairs have begun is a positive development, however, a USAID commissioned study found that 84,951 yellow buildings and an additional 73,846 buildings coded red and still in need of repair or demolition were being occupied by over one million Haitians.

2. CM:  “Over half of the estimated 10 million cubic meters of rubble created by the earthquake has been removed — almost 50 percent of which was removed through efforts of the U.S. government.”

HRRW:  Agencies have been pointing to the clearing of half the rubble as a sign of progress for months now, and – though it is undeniable that much has been removed – it may not actually be half. While the US Government, UN and many other agencies say 5 million cubic meters have been removed out of a total of 10, the World Bank estimates that 4 million cubic meters have been removed out of a total of 11. That’s closer to one-third than one half.

While rubble has been removed, the process has delayed efforts to provide shelter and move forward with the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince and outlying areas. A USAID Inspector General (IG) report on the provision of shelter found that debris was often an impediment. USAID officials told the IG that they had not foreseen the problems with rubble, despite previous warnings from grantees. As a result the IG found:

USAID/OFDA did not fund significant rubble removal activities in conjunction with its shelter grants. Some grants included funding for rubble removal through cash-for-work activities, which did not include heavy machinery. Only in November 2010 did USAID/OFDA sign a grant modification to the CHF shelter grant that incorporated the use of heavy equipment to remove rubble in conjunction with shelter construction in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood.

3. CM:  “In 2011, Haitians went to the polls and elected a new President, Michel Martelly, to succeed Rene Preval. This election marked the first democratic transfer of power from one democratically elected government leader to a member of the opposition.”

HRRW:  When we think back to Haiti’s last elections, a lot of words come to mind.  “Democratic” isn’t one of them.  As various organizations and U.S. members of Congress noted, the elections were deeply flawed before they even took place, as a result of the decision to exclude Haiti’s largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas.  Organized in haste, and near the peak of the cholera crisis, the election process itself had extremely low turnout and was rife with irregularities.  The U.S. made matters worse by forcing Haitian authorities to change the final results of the first round of the presidential elections, switching Celestin for Martelly, based on an arbitrary analysis. The bulk of the funding for these flawed elections came from the U.S.  But the U.S. seems to be in the habit of taking counter-intuitive positions on elections in the region.

4.  CM:  “For the first time in more than 25 years, Haiti is poised to have all three branches — executive, legislative and judiciary — of government in place. President Martelly has appointed three members of the Supreme Court, including the Court’s president — a position that was vacant for six years and is central to the judiciary’s oversight body.”

HRRW: Government positions may indeed be filled, however in addition to Martelly, the fatally flawed elections that occurred last November also brought many in the legislature into positions of power. Now this flawed process appears set to repeat itself. The disgraced electoral council has been disbanded by Martelly but it remains to be seen if Martelly will establish a Permanent Electoral Council as called for in Haiti’s constitution, or if like his predecessor, he will exercise significant control over the electoral authority. Martelly also has been consistently antagonistic in his relationship with the legislature, originally insisting on two candidates for prime minister that had little support in parliament.

5. CM: “The Haitian Ministry of Health, supported by the international community including USG through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAID, led the international community’s response to prevent and treat cholera — bringing the case mortality rate below the international standard of one percent.”

HRRW: The overall mortality rate since the beginning of the epidemic is 1.3 percent, and even with the onset of the dry season lowering the current rate, the Pan American Health Organization recently referred to the epidemic as “one of the largest cholera outbreaks in modern history to affect a single country.” The Guardian wrote today, “Last year, the head of Médecins Sans Frontières, Unni Karunakara, said the human cost of the cholera outbreak in Haiti was ‘a damning indictment’ of the international aid system, as cholera is a disease that’s easily treated and controlled – and given the thousands of NGOs working in what is one of the world’s smallest countries.” Last year when cases dropped many NGOs pulled out of the field and donor funds dried up, only to see cases spike again with the onset of the rainy season. Health experts warn a similar situation could occur this year. To truly eradicate cholera from Haiti it will take serious investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, of which little has been thus far.

It is important to note that the U.S. blocked $54 million in Inter-American Development Bank loans for such infrastructure for several years during the 2000’s, out of political motives (it was opposed to the democratically-elected government at the time). Haiti’s hampered ability to improve its drinking water made the potential of a water-borne disease epidemic much more likely, as Paul Farmer and other experts have noted.

It’s also important to remember that the cholera epidemic – that has infected at least 520,000 and killed at least 7,000 – is a new phenomenon that was brought by the international community, in this case the MINUSTAH military peacekeeping force.  MINUSTAH – an entity that receives funding and strong political support from the U.S. – is unpopular in Haiti as a result of its responsibility for introducing cholera and the many abuses that its soldiers have committed over the years.  Many question why MINUSTAH is still in Haiti at all, given the low rate of violent crime and the many other pressing needs in the country.

6. CM: “According to the UN Special Envoy for Haiti’s website, of the 4.5 billion pledged for Haiti for 2010-2011, approximately 2.4 billion had been spent by December 2011. In October, the legislative mandate for the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) ended. During its tenure, the Commission approved 89 projects across 8 sectors valued at more than 3 billion dollars. Even in the absence of a legislatively mandated coordination mechanism, the 12 largest donors continue to leverage the relationships built through the IHRC to coordinate among themselves and work with the Government of Haiti through resident representatives.”

HRRW:  Of the $4.5 billion pledged over 2010-2011, only 53 percent has been disbursed (and not “spent” as Cheryl Mills asserts). What does disbursed mean? Donors have “disbursed” nearly $400 million to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, yet only $55 million of that has been spent. And while it’s true that the IHRC approved 89 projects worth over $3 billion, an April review found that only four had been completed and an additional 41 projects were either in the contracting or funding phase. Overall — although not all projects provided financial updates — just $117.7 million had been reported as spent out of the $3.2 billion in projects, a rate of just 3.7 per cent.

7. CM:  “The Government of Haiti, with the support of stakeholders, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is providing schooling to 260,000 elementary students for a total of 750,000 elementary students enrolled this school year.”

HRRW: President Martelly has made a lot of noise about his plan to send everyone to school for free; it’s hard to miss the billboards around Port-au-Prince letting you know. But the IDB program began under the previous administration of René Preval and has simply continued. Meanwhile, the Haitian government’s plan has so far come up empty, angering teachers and administrators who still have not received the government subsidies. As the Washington Post reported yesterday regarding the education plan, “the government hasn’t figured out how to pay for it.” Meanwhile the millions collected from international phone calls and money transfers meant to be channeled towards education remain clouded in mystery.

8. CM:  “The Government of Haiti is overhauling its state-owned electricity company, Electricite D’Haiti (EDH), which provides electricity to just 12 percent of the population and requires more than 100 million a year in government subsidy to operate. The Government of Haiti has appointed new Haitian leadership and an internationally respected turnaround management team funded by the U.S. government. In the first three months, the new management has helped the utility company improve its operations, its transparency and its fiscal efficiency, identifying more than 1.6 million in monthly savings. The new management will not only improve and expand services, but also help reduce the substantial government subsidy for EDH’s operations, freeing these resources up for other critical needs.”

HRRW:  EDH is badly in need of reform, and hopefully these measures will help improve the critical services this company provides without accelerating the march toward privatization that many outside actors, including the U.S. government, appear to support.  However, the company is – at the moment – on a financially unsustainable path as EDH’s Director, Garry Valdemar, has himself acknowledged.  According to a recent article on the on-line news site Defend Haiti, he stated the following: 

“Today, the revenues of EDH can cover about 30% of the operating budget, which includes wages, purchase of energy and fuel for power plants can operate […] the situation is that the EDH receives about 6 million U.S. dollars per month for expenses that are around 17 million, financially, the company is not sustainable.”

9. CM:  “The U.S. government is doing development differently in Haiti, consistent with the principles of the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and its focus on catalyzing economic growth:

”Caracol Industrial Park: In November, President Martelly, President Clinton, and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Moreno and more than a 1,000 members of the local community took part in an official ceremony laying the Park’s foundation, on track for its March opening. The speed and efficiency of implementation rivals the fast-moving construction schedules of industrial projects across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The 250-hectare Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti is a 300 million public-private partnership supported by increased U.S. trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act and the coordination mechanisms created by the IHRC. The USG helped convene the GOH, the IDB and Korea’s largest apparel manufacturer, Sae-A, the Park’s anchor tenant. Sae-A has committed to create 20,000 direct jobs and invest 78 million over six years, one of the largest investments in Haiti’s modern history. With the arrival of other tenants, the Park has the potential to create 65,000 direct jobs, with additional opportunities expected for vendors, repair shops, farmers and other small businesses. USG investments will provide for electrification, new housing, and port facilities. IDB investments will provide for the construction of the park facilities and roads. The GOH is contributing the land and managing the project top to bottom with a team of Haitian professionals.”

HRRW:  The Caracol Industrial Park is one of USAID’s showcase projects in Haiti but many question whether apparel factories will really be a development model to provide sustainable livelihoods for Haitians.  The same week the cornerstone of the industrial park was laid, a report by Better Work Haiti (a project of the ILO funded in part by the US) found that a half-dozen factory workers had recently been fired in retaliation for their union organizing. Meanwhile, the minimum wage in the factories remains low, well below estimates as to what a true living wage should be.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government has also worked with factory owners and multinational companies to prevent a hike in Haiti’s minimum wage, as The Nation reported last year.

There are also problems with the industrial park’s location. As Haiti Grassroots Watch has pointed out in a detailed analysis of the project, among other faults, it is being built “steps from an area formerly slated to become a ‘marine protected area.’”

MC:  “Agriculture: Through USG investments in agriculture and food security, more than 9,700 farmers have benefited from improved seeds, fertilizer, technologies, and techniques. This has resulted in a 64 percent increase in rice yields, a 338 percent increase in corn yields, a 97 percent increase in bean crop yields and a 21 percent increase in plantain yields for these farmers. As a result of a full value chain approach, incomes are up over 50 percent for 8,750 small farmers.”

HRRW:  The agricultural sector certainly needs support, but the U.S. government has historically (and continues to this day) undermined Haitian agriculture through food aid. This is a point former President Bill Clinton made last year, discussing US food aid policies before the Senate, Clinton said, “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” adding, “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.” Although some efforts by the World Food Program and France have increased the local purchases of food aid, helping to stimulate as opposed to undermine local production, the U.S. has lagged behind its peers.

There is some evidence that even the U.S. government support to the agricultural sector has been problematic. Jacob Kushner reported this week that many have rejected the USAID program:

Many Haitian farmers rejected the program, however, after they discovered that 475 tons of seeds were hybrids donated by Monsanto, the world’s largest developer of genetically modified seeds. Unlike traditional crops, hybrids do not produce new seeds that can be collected and planted the following growing season, meaning farmers in Haiti would need to begin purchasing the seeds from Monsanto or another company once donations stopped.

“In Haiti, people each year conserve their own feed for the next year. But USAID doesn’t want to promote this kind of agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said.

10. MC:  “Haiti is experiencing continued and increasing international investment interest. A multi-day conference on business development opportunities in Haiti drew around 1,000 business leaders from the private sector as well as officials from 29 countries spanning the Americas, Asia and Europe. Marriot and Digicel announced the construction of a new 45 million Marriot hotel in Port-Au-Prince, with the construction by several developers of more than 750 hotel rooms in the pipeline — representing the largest growth in the industry for the Caribbean region, which includes popular tourist destinations in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

HRRW: Indeed the reconstruction effort has often seemed more geared towards business opportunities for international investors rather than the Haitian private sector. An analysis of USAID contracts awarded since the earthquake show that some 83 percent of the funds have gone to Beltway firms. On the other hand, direct contracts to Haitian firms account for just 0.02 percent of funds.

At the same time, support for the Haitian public sector has declined, in fact there was less direct budget support in 2011 than in 2009, before the earthquake.

UPDATE 1/16: This post has been edited slightly for clarity.

In the weeks prior to the 2nd anniversary of Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, an unprecedented U.S. State Department public relations offensive has unfolded. On December 28 the U.S. State Department released 11 fact sheets, celebrating the achievements of the U.S. humanitarian and development assistance in Haiti in areas ranging from shelter to food security.  To make sure the message got through to journalists, on January 6th the U.S. government partnered up with UN entities and held a joint press teleconference on Haiti to discuss the “amazing” work done removing rubble and providing clean water and shelter to those made homeless by the quake.

The effort continued with an op-ed by Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that appeared on January 9thin the Huffington Post.  The piece was then sent out widely by the State Department public affairs office. Finally, on the day of the anniversary, additional op-eds were published by Rajiv Shah, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Mark Feierstein, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean at USAID.  Shah and Feierstein appeared to have received the same memo: their talking points were strikingly similar and the two articles had nearly the same titles “Haiti Is on the Move” and “Haiti ‘a country undeniably on the move’”.

Clearly, there is heightened concern – within the U.S. foreign policy machine – about the perception of U.S. efforts in Haiti, given the increased press scrutiny generated by the 2nd quake anniversary commemorations.  A lot of money has been spent – $2.2 billion by the US alone according to their fact sheet on funding – and it’s important to show some results after two years.  And, apparently, there are plenty of results on display, as Cheryl Mills has emphasized in her piece, which rolls out ten impressive-sounding achievements.  But are these achievements real, and – if they are – do they really represent significant steps forward?   Let’s try to go beyond the hype by taking a closer look at Cheryl Mills’ article “Haiti – Two Years Post-Earthquake: What You May Not Know,” and providing the reader with a few additional facts that Mills and the U.S. State Department may prefer you not know: 

1. Cheryl Mills:  “Almost two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians living in tent shelters after the January 2010 earthquake have left camps, many returning to houses that have undergone structural improvements or moving into temporary shelters and permanent homes.”

Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch:  Certainly a reduction in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) sounds like a positive development, but did you check to see where the folks who left the camps went, and why they left?   According to an International Organization of Migration (IOM) study from last March (by which time the vast majority of the IDP population reduction had already taken place) found that many people were leaving the camps for even more precarious living situations, not for new homes or T-shelters.  Between June 2010 and March 2011 over 230,000 people were evicted, accounting for much of the decline in the IDP population.

CM:  “The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has completed more than 28,500 temporary shelters, housing approximately 143,000 people. The U.S. government has also funded repairs to more than 6,000 “yellow” structures — those that were deemed structurally safe if repairs are made. Today, more than 40,000 have returned to those homes.”

HRRW:  The so called temporary shelters – or “T-Shelters” – were originally meant to be completed before the first hurricane season, but as a recent independent evaluation found the plans have still not been completed and the shelters ended up costing $530 million, as compared to $187 million as originally planned. Additionally, the evaluation found that Haitians were generally excluded from the planning and implementation of temporary shelter solutions. As one interviewee told the evaluation team, “Affected people were not consulted nor their capacities considered, the response was what those with the [foreign] money decided.” As for the yellow houses, the fact that repairs have begun is a positive development, however, a USAID commissioned study found that 84,951 yellow buildings and an additional 73,846 buildings coded red and still in need of repair or demolition were being occupied by over one million Haitians.

2. CM:  “Over half of the estimated 10 million cubic meters of rubble created by the earthquake has been removed — almost 50 percent of which was removed through efforts of the U.S. government.”

HRRW:  Agencies have been pointing to the clearing of half the rubble as a sign of progress for months now, and – though it is undeniable that much has been removed – it may not actually be half. While the US Government, UN and many other agencies say 5 million cubic meters have been removed out of a total of 10, the World Bank estimates that 4 million cubic meters have been removed out of a total of 11. That’s closer to one-third than one half.

While rubble has been removed, the process has delayed efforts to provide shelter and move forward with the reconstruction of Port-au-Prince and outlying areas. A USAID Inspector General (IG) report on the provision of shelter found that debris was often an impediment. USAID officials told the IG that they had not foreseen the problems with rubble, despite previous warnings from grantees. As a result the IG found:

USAID/OFDA did not fund significant rubble removal activities in conjunction with its shelter grants. Some grants included funding for rubble removal through cash-for-work activities, which did not include heavy machinery. Only in November 2010 did USAID/OFDA sign a grant modification to the CHF shelter grant that incorporated the use of heavy equipment to remove rubble in conjunction with shelter construction in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood.

3. CM:  “In 2011, Haitians went to the polls and elected a new President, Michel Martelly, to succeed Rene Preval. This election marked the first democratic transfer of power from one democratically elected government leader to a member of the opposition.”

HRRW:  When we think back to Haiti’s last elections, a lot of words come to mind.  “Democratic” isn’t one of them.  As various organizations and U.S. members of Congress noted, the elections were deeply flawed before they even took place, as a result of the decision to exclude Haiti’s largest political party, Fanmi Lavalas.  Organized in haste, and near the peak of the cholera crisis, the election process itself had extremely low turnout and was rife with irregularities.  The U.S. made matters worse by forcing Haitian authorities to change the final results of the first round of the presidential elections, switching Celestin for Martelly, based on an arbitrary analysis. The bulk of the funding for these flawed elections came from the U.S.  But the U.S. seems to be in the habit of taking counter-intuitive positions on elections in the region.

4.  CM:  “For the first time in more than 25 years, Haiti is poised to have all three branches — executive, legislative and judiciary — of government in place. President Martelly has appointed three members of the Supreme Court, including the Court’s president — a position that was vacant for six years and is central to the judiciary’s oversight body.”

HRRW: Government positions may indeed be filled, however in addition to Martelly, the fatally flawed elections that occurred last November also brought many in the legislature into positions of power. Now this flawed process appears set to repeat itself. The disgraced electoral council has been disbanded by Martelly but it remains to be seen if Martelly will establish a Permanent Electoral Council as called for in Haiti’s constitution, or if like his predecessor, he will exercise significant control over the electoral authority. Martelly also has been consistently antagonistic in his relationship with the legislature, originally insisting on two candidates for prime minister that had little support in parliament.

5. CM: “The Haitian Ministry of Health, supported by the international community including USG through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and USAID, led the international community’s response to prevent and treat cholera — bringing the case mortality rate below the international standard of one percent.”

HRRW: The overall mortality rate since the beginning of the epidemic is 1.3 percent, and even with the onset of the dry season lowering the current rate, the Pan American Health Organization recently referred to the epidemic as “one of the largest cholera outbreaks in modern history to affect a single country.” The Guardian wrote today, “Last year, the head of Médecins Sans Frontières, Unni Karunakara, said the human cost of the cholera outbreak in Haiti was ‘a damning indictment’ of the international aid system, as cholera is a disease that’s easily treated and controlled – and given the thousands of NGOs working in what is one of the world’s smallest countries.” Last year when cases dropped many NGOs pulled out of the field and donor funds dried up, only to see cases spike again with the onset of the rainy season. Health experts warn a similar situation could occur this year. To truly eradicate cholera from Haiti it will take serious investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, of which little has been thus far.

It is important to note that the U.S. blocked $54 million in Inter-American Development Bank loans for such infrastructure for several years during the 2000’s, out of political motives (it was opposed to the democratically-elected government at the time). Haiti’s hampered ability to improve its drinking water made the potential of a water-borne disease epidemic much more likely, as Paul Farmer and other experts have noted.

It’s also important to remember that the cholera epidemic – that has infected at least 520,000 and killed at least 7,000 – is a new phenomenon that was brought by the international community, in this case the MINUSTAH military peacekeeping force.  MINUSTAH – an entity that receives funding and strong political support from the U.S. – is unpopular in Haiti as a result of its responsibility for introducing cholera and the many abuses that its soldiers have committed over the years.  Many question why MINUSTAH is still in Haiti at all, given the low rate of violent crime and the many other pressing needs in the country.

6. CM: “According to the UN Special Envoy for Haiti’s website, of the 4.5 billion pledged for Haiti for 2010-2011, approximately 2.4 billion had been spent by December 2011. In October, the legislative mandate for the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) ended. During its tenure, the Commission approved 89 projects across 8 sectors valued at more than 3 billion dollars. Even in the absence of a legislatively mandated coordination mechanism, the 12 largest donors continue to leverage the relationships built through the IHRC to coordinate among themselves and work with the Government of Haiti through resident representatives.”

HRRW:  Of the $4.5 billion pledged over 2010-2011, only 53 percent has been disbursed (and not “spent” as Cheryl Mills asserts). What does disbursed mean? Donors have “disbursed” nearly $400 million to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, yet only $55 million of that has been spent. And while it’s true that the IHRC approved 89 projects worth over $3 billion, an April review found that only four had been completed and an additional 41 projects were either in the contracting or funding phase. Overall — although not all projects provided financial updates — just $117.7 million had been reported as spent out of the $3.2 billion in projects, a rate of just 3.7 per cent.

7. CM:  “The Government of Haiti, with the support of stakeholders, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is providing schooling to 260,000 elementary students for a total of 750,000 elementary students enrolled this school year.”

HRRW: President Martelly has made a lot of noise about his plan to send everyone to school for free; it’s hard to miss the billboards around Port-au-Prince letting you know. But the IDB program began under the previous administration of René Preval and has simply continued. Meanwhile, the Haitian government’s plan has so far come up empty, angering teachers and administrators who still have not received the government subsidies. As the Washington Post reported yesterday regarding the education plan, “the government hasn’t figured out how to pay for it.” Meanwhile the millions collected from international phone calls and money transfers meant to be channeled towards education remain clouded in mystery.

8. CM:  “The Government of Haiti is overhauling its state-owned electricity company, Electricite D’Haiti (EDH), which provides electricity to just 12 percent of the population and requires more than 100 million a year in government subsidy to operate. The Government of Haiti has appointed new Haitian leadership and an internationally respected turnaround management team funded by the U.S. government. In the first three months, the new management has helped the utility company improve its operations, its transparency and its fiscal efficiency, identifying more than 1.6 million in monthly savings. The new management will not only improve and expand services, but also help reduce the substantial government subsidy for EDH’s operations, freeing these resources up for other critical needs.”

HRRW:  EDH is badly in need of reform, and hopefully these measures will help improve the critical services this company provides without accelerating the march toward privatization that many outside actors, including the U.S. government, appear to support.  However, the company is – at the moment – on a financially unsustainable path as EDH’s Director, Garry Valdemar, has himself acknowledged.  According to a recent article on the on-line news site Defend Haiti, he stated the following: 

“Today, the revenues of EDH can cover about 30% of the operating budget, which includes wages, purchase of energy and fuel for power plants can operate […] the situation is that the EDH receives about 6 million U.S. dollars per month for expenses that are around 17 million, financially, the company is not sustainable.”

9. CM:  “The U.S. government is doing development differently in Haiti, consistent with the principles of the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development and its focus on catalyzing economic growth:

”Caracol Industrial Park: In November, President Martelly, President Clinton, and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Moreno and more than a 1,000 members of the local community took part in an official ceremony laying the Park’s foundation, on track for its March opening. The speed and efficiency of implementation rivals the fast-moving construction schedules of industrial projects across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The 250-hectare Caracol Industrial Park in northern Haiti is a 300 million public-private partnership supported by increased U.S. trade preferences under the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act and the coordination mechanisms created by the IHRC. The USG helped convene the GOH, the IDB and Korea’s largest apparel manufacturer, Sae-A, the Park’s anchor tenant. Sae-A has committed to create 20,000 direct jobs and invest 78 million over six years, one of the largest investments in Haiti’s modern history. With the arrival of other tenants, the Park has the potential to create 65,000 direct jobs, with additional opportunities expected for vendors, repair shops, farmers and other small businesses. USG investments will provide for electrification, new housing, and port facilities. IDB investments will provide for the construction of the park facilities and roads. The GOH is contributing the land and managing the project top to bottom with a team of Haitian professionals.”

HRRW:  The Caracol Industrial Park is one of USAID’s showcase projects in Haiti but many question whether apparel factories will really be a development model to provide sustainable livelihoods for Haitians.  The same week the cornerstone of the industrial park was laid, a report by Better Work Haiti (a project of the ILO funded in part by the US) found that a half-dozen factory workers had recently been fired in retaliation for their union organizing. Meanwhile, the minimum wage in the factories remains low, well below estimates as to what a true living wage should be.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government has also worked with factory owners and multinational companies to prevent a hike in Haiti’s minimum wage, as The Nation reported last year.

There are also problems with the industrial park’s location. As Haiti Grassroots Watch has pointed out in a detailed analysis of the project, among other faults, it is being built “steps from an area formerly slated to become a ‘marine protected area.’”

MC:  “Agriculture: Through USG investments in agriculture and food security, more than 9,700 farmers have benefited from improved seeds, fertilizer, technologies, and techniques. This has resulted in a 64 percent increase in rice yields, a 338 percent increase in corn yields, a 97 percent increase in bean crop yields and a 21 percent increase in plantain yields for these farmers. As a result of a full value chain approach, incomes are up over 50 percent for 8,750 small farmers.”

HRRW:  The agricultural sector certainly needs support, but the U.S. government has historically (and continues to this day) undermined Haitian agriculture through food aid. This is a point former President Bill Clinton made last year, discussing US food aid policies before the Senate, Clinton said, “It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. It was a mistake,” adding, “I had to live everyday with the consequences of the loss of capacity to produce a rice crop in Haiti to feed those people because of what I did; nobody else.” Although some efforts by the World Food Program and France have increased the local purchases of food aid, helping to stimulate as opposed to undermine local production, the U.S. has lagged behind its peers.

There is some evidence that even the U.S. government support to the agricultural sector has been problematic. Jacob Kushner reported this week that many have rejected the USAID program:

Many Haitian farmers rejected the program, however, after they discovered that 475 tons of seeds were hybrids donated by Monsanto, the world’s largest developer of genetically modified seeds. Unlike traditional crops, hybrids do not produce new seeds that can be collected and planted the following growing season, meaning farmers in Haiti would need to begin purchasing the seeds from Monsanto or another company once donations stopped.

“In Haiti, people each year conserve their own feed for the next year. But USAID doesn’t want to promote this kind of agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said.

10. MC:  “Haiti is experiencing continued and increasing international investment interest. A multi-day conference on business development opportunities in Haiti drew around 1,000 business leaders from the private sector as well as officials from 29 countries spanning the Americas, Asia and Europe. Marriot and Digicel announced the construction of a new 45 million Marriot hotel in Port-Au-Prince, with the construction by several developers of more than 750 hotel rooms in the pipeline — representing the largest growth in the industry for the Caribbean region, which includes popular tourist destinations in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

HRRW: Indeed the reconstruction effort has often seemed more geared towards business opportunities for international investors rather than the Haitian private sector. An analysis of USAID contracts awarded since the earthquake show that some 83 percent of the funds have gone to Beltway firms. On the other hand, direct contracts to Haitian firms account for just 0.02 percent of funds.

At the same time, support for the Haitian public sector has declined, in fact there was less direct budget support in 2011 than in 2009, before the earthquake.

UPDATE 1/16: This post has been edited slightly for clarity.

As the two year mark approaches, many are justifiably asking, where did the money go? With billions pledged by donors, and billions more in private donations, it is a natural question. As important as the level of disbursement is the question of where that money has gone and whether it has been spent appropriately.  Independent evaluations have shown that many NGOs were responding more to their donors than to those whom they are supposedly in Haiti to help. Last year, the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti (OSE) released a report, “Has Aid Changed? Channeling Assistance to Haiti Before and After the Earthquake,” which analyzed whether donors “have changed the way they provide their assistance in accordance with the principle of accompaniment” which “is specifically focused on guiding international partners to transfer more resources and assets directly to Haitian public and private institutions as part of their support.”

Yet the vast majority of aid projects and donor support bypassed the Haitian government. In fact, there was less direct budget support in 2011 than there was in 2009 before the earthquake. Additionally, many aid projects were undertaken outside the purview of the government. Rather than reinforcing the government’s capabilities, these types of projects have historically undermined them.  Despite this, there are examples of aid done right; the construction of a new teaching hospital in Mirebalais by Partners in Health is one such example.

Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante (PIH) had been in Haiti for 25 years before the earthquake and has a history of working closely with the government. Dr. Paul Farmer of PIH, writing in the introduction of the OSE report referenced earlier, stresses the importance of working with, not around Haitian institutions:

We know from our shared experiences in Haiti and elsewhere that the way aid is channelled matters a great deal, and determines its impact on the lives of the Haitian people. For example, with over 99 percent of relief funding circumventing Haitian public institutions, the already challenging task of moving from relief to recovery—which requires government leadership, above all—becomes almost impossible.

We have heard from the Haitian people time and again that creating jobs and supporting the government to ensure access to basic services are essential to restoring dignity. And we have learned that in order to make progress in these two areas we need to directly invest in Haitian people and their public and private institutions. The Haitian proverb sak vide pa kanpe—“an empty sack cannot stand”—applies here. To revitalize Haitian institutions, we must channel money through them.

It should be little surprise then that the largest reconstruction project undertaken by PIH is one of the few projects in Haiti that has truly adhered to the principal of accompaniment. Prior to the earthquake, PIH had been planning to build a community hospital in Mirebalais. After the earthquake, PIH received a request from the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population, with whom they had a previous relationship, to scale up the project. The result is that:

When it opens its doors in 2012, the 180,000-square foot, 320-bed hospital will offer a level of care never before available at a public facility in Haiti. And at a time when Haiti desperately needs skilled professionals, Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital will provide high-quality education for the next generation of Haitian nurses, medical students, and resident physicians.

The hospital is expected to be the largest employer in the area, and:

Once the hospital is running at full capacity, it will have over 30 outpatient consultation rooms, six operating rooms, and space to host trainings with over 200 participants. It will offer innovative technology — some of which was previously unavailable in Haiti — including digital radiography, a full-body CT scanner, teleconferencing capabilities, solar panels that will fully power the hospital during the day, on-site waste water treatment, and wall-mounted oxygen for over 60 percent of inpatient beds. The hospital is also designed to withstand earthquakes and high-winds from tropical storms.

In agreement with the government of Haiti, PIH is covering the costs of operating the hospital until 2021 when the responsibility will be transferred to the Haitian government.

When HRRW visited the construction area in October, a PIH employee explained that they hope to stand this project up as an example of how aid can be done right in Haiti and as proof that it can be done. By working with the government, involving Haitian communities and building a sustainable institution, when the new hospital in Mirebalais opens in a few months, it will indeed be an example of aid done right.

As the two year mark approaches, many are justifiably asking, where did the money go? With billions pledged by donors, and billions more in private donations, it is a natural question. As important as the level of disbursement is the question of where that money has gone and whether it has been spent appropriately.  Independent evaluations have shown that many NGOs were responding more to their donors than to those whom they are supposedly in Haiti to help. Last year, the United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti (OSE) released a report, “Has Aid Changed? Channeling Assistance to Haiti Before and After the Earthquake,” which analyzed whether donors “have changed the way they provide their assistance in accordance with the principle of accompaniment” which “is specifically focused on guiding international partners to transfer more resources and assets directly to Haitian public and private institutions as part of their support.”

Yet the vast majority of aid projects and donor support bypassed the Haitian government. In fact, there was less direct budget support in 2011 than there was in 2009 before the earthquake. Additionally, many aid projects were undertaken outside the purview of the government. Rather than reinforcing the government’s capabilities, these types of projects have historically undermined them.  Despite this, there are examples of aid done right; the construction of a new teaching hospital in Mirebalais by Partners in Health is one such example.

Partners in Health/Zanmi Lasante (PIH) had been in Haiti for 25 years before the earthquake and has a history of working closely with the government. Dr. Paul Farmer of PIH, writing in the introduction of the OSE report referenced earlier, stresses the importance of working with, not around Haitian institutions:

We know from our shared experiences in Haiti and elsewhere that the way aid is channelled matters a great deal, and determines its impact on the lives of the Haitian people. For example, with over 99 percent of relief funding circumventing Haitian public institutions, the already challenging task of moving from relief to recovery—which requires government leadership, above all—becomes almost impossible.

We have heard from the Haitian people time and again that creating jobs and supporting the government to ensure access to basic services are essential to restoring dignity. And we have learned that in order to make progress in these two areas we need to directly invest in Haitian people and their public and private institutions. The Haitian proverb sak vide pa kanpe—“an empty sack cannot stand”—applies here. To revitalize Haitian institutions, we must channel money through them.

It should be little surprise then that the largest reconstruction project undertaken by PIH is one of the few projects in Haiti that has truly adhered to the principal of accompaniment. Prior to the earthquake, PIH had been planning to build a community hospital in Mirebalais. After the earthquake, PIH received a request from the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population, with whom they had a previous relationship, to scale up the project. The result is that:

When it opens its doors in 2012, the 180,000-square foot, 320-bed hospital will offer a level of care never before available at a public facility in Haiti. And at a time when Haiti desperately needs skilled professionals, Mirebalais National Teaching Hospital will provide high-quality education for the next generation of Haitian nurses, medical students, and resident physicians.

The hospital is expected to be the largest employer in the area, and:

Once the hospital is running at full capacity, it will have over 30 outpatient consultation rooms, six operating rooms, and space to host trainings with over 200 participants. It will offer innovative technology — some of which was previously unavailable in Haiti — including digital radiography, a full-body CT scanner, teleconferencing capabilities, solar panels that will fully power the hospital during the day, on-site waste water treatment, and wall-mounted oxygen for over 60 percent of inpatient beds. The hospital is also designed to withstand earthquakes and high-winds from tropical storms.

In agreement with the government of Haiti, PIH is covering the costs of operating the hospital until 2021 when the responsibility will be transferred to the Haitian government.

When HRRW visited the construction area in October, a PIH employee explained that they hope to stand this project up as an example of how aid can be done right in Haiti and as proof that it can be done. By working with the government, involving Haitian communities and building a sustainable institution, when the new hospital in Mirebalais opens in a few months, it will indeed be an example of aid done right.

As media coverage intensifies around the two-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, there appears to be a serious effort on the part of the largest donors and aid organizations to present the relief and recovery in Haiti as an unmitigated success. One notable exception is Oxfam, which released a two-year report critical of the reconstruction effort.  The State Department, on the other hand, issued 11 separate fact sheets on the U.S. response in Haiti; none of them suggested that the U.S. had learned from its mistakes, or indeed that any mistakes had been made at all. One of the key statistics that is most frequently touted to suggest that big advances have been made is the decline in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps.  In a State Department blog post (also published on the Huffington Post) Cheryl Mills, chief of staff to Hillary Clinton, points to the reduction of IDP numbers as a clear sign of progress:

Almost two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians living in tent shelters after the January 2010 earthquake have left camps, many returning to houses that have undergone structural improvements or moving into temporary shelters and permanent homes.

Of course, a reduction in people living in IDP camps seems like an entirely positive development. Yet a closer look at this development reveals significant problems with both the relief and reconstruction effort and a much more tepid success story.

In March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which tracks the IDP camp population, found that there were 680,000 people living in the camps. So by March the majority of the decrease Mills cites had already taken place. Yet what the IOM found was that many people were leaving the camps for even more precarious living situations, not for new homes or T-shelters. The IOM study shows that only seven percent indicated that an “assistance package was provided” (2.0%), “my home was repaired” (4.7%) or “transitional shelter was provided” (0.3%) as reasons for leaving IDP sites. On the other hand, “Poor conditions in the IDP site”, “eviction”, “high incidence of crime/insecurity in the IDP site”, and “rain/hurricane” were cited by 77.9 percent of respondents. Between June 2010 and March 2011, some 230,000 people were evicted from IDP camps and more than 100,000 still face the constant threat of eviction.

Confirming this trend, a USAID sponsored study found that over one million people were living in “extremely dangerous” housing. Timothy Schwartz, the report’s author writes:

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

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

Lots of numbers will be thrown around in the coming days, indeed many already have. There are signs of progress in Haiti; there is no denying that much rubble has been removed (although at least half the post-quake rubble remains), disbursements from donors have quickened over the last few months and the rate of cholera infection has slowed with the dry season. But much work remains to be done and there have been significant problems with the relief and reconstruction efforts, not least the exclusion of Haitian voices.

A 66 percent reduction in IDP population sounds like a great success story and it no doubt will be cited in numerous news articles and official press releases, but like the rest of the stats you may come across in two-year coverage, a closer look is needed.

As media coverage intensifies around the two-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, there appears to be a serious effort on the part of the largest donors and aid organizations to present the relief and recovery in Haiti as an unmitigated success. One notable exception is Oxfam, which released a two-year report critical of the reconstruction effort.  The State Department, on the other hand, issued 11 separate fact sheets on the U.S. response in Haiti; none of them suggested that the U.S. had learned from its mistakes, or indeed that any mistakes had been made at all. One of the key statistics that is most frequently touted to suggest that big advances have been made is the decline in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps.  In a State Department blog post (also published on the Huffington Post) Cheryl Mills, chief of staff to Hillary Clinton, points to the reduction of IDP numbers as a clear sign of progress:

Almost two-thirds of the estimated 1.5 million Haitians living in tent shelters after the January 2010 earthquake have left camps, many returning to houses that have undergone structural improvements or moving into temporary shelters and permanent homes.

Of course, a reduction in people living in IDP camps seems like an entirely positive development. Yet a closer look at this development reveals significant problems with both the relief and reconstruction effort and a much more tepid success story.

In March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which tracks the IDP camp population, found that there were 680,000 people living in the camps. So by March the majority of the decrease Mills cites had already taken place. Yet what the IOM found was that many people were leaving the camps for even more precarious living situations, not for new homes or T-shelters. The IOM study shows that only seven percent indicated that an “assistance package was provided” (2.0%), “my home was repaired” (4.7%) or “transitional shelter was provided” (0.3%) as reasons for leaving IDP sites. On the other hand, “Poor conditions in the IDP site”, “eviction”, “high incidence of crime/insecurity in the IDP site”, and “rain/hurricane” were cited by 77.9 percent of respondents. Between June 2010 and March 2011, some 230,000 people were evicted from IDP camps and more than 100,000 still face the constant threat of eviction.

Confirming this trend, a USAID sponsored study found that over one million people were living in “extremely dangerous” housing. Timothy Schwartz, the report’s author writes:

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

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

Lots of numbers will be thrown around in the coming days, indeed many already have. There are signs of progress in Haiti; there is no denying that much rubble has been removed (although at least half the post-quake rubble remains), disbursements from donors have quickened over the last few months and the rate of cholera infection has slowed with the dry season. But much work remains to be done and there have been significant problems with the relief and reconstruction efforts, not least the exclusion of Haitian voices.

A 66 percent reduction in IDP population sounds like a great success story and it no doubt will be cited in numerous news articles and official press releases, but like the rest of the stats you may come across in two-year coverage, a closer look is needed.

In March 2010, the New Orleans inspector general found that a major contractor for the city’s recovery efforts, MWH Americas, had been overcharging the city. The Times-Picayune reported at the time:

The controversial engineering firm hired to manage New Orleans’ massive rebuilding effort has been operating for more than two years under a dubiously awarded contract that has allowed it to overbill the city repeatedly even as the bricks-and-mortar recovery work it oversees has lagged, according to a draft report by the city’s inspector general.

Now this same company accused of wrongdoing in New Orleans has landed a USAID contract for work in Haiti. And it’s not the first time this has happened. MWH announced on December 21 that it had received a $2.8 million contract to conduct a feasibility study for port infrastructure in northern Haiti (the contract was signed on September 23). The company’s release goes on:

The $2.8 million contract will include a market demand and project finance structure study, economic feasibility analysis, and the preparation of a detailed technical study including geotechnical, environmental assessment, operational performance, water supply system, emergency response, access roads and institutional and regulatory assessment. The project is expected to be complete in May 2012.

The awarding of the contract to Colorado-based MWH, despite a record of waste and abuse, is consistent with other contracts awarded by USAID in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Overall, USAID has awarded over $300 million in contracts, with only 0.02 percent going directly to Haitian firms. The largest contractor is Chemonics, a company with a long record of waste and abuse in Afghanistan and which was criticized by the USAID inspector general last year for its work in Haiti. MWH Global, the parent company of MWH Americas, spent over $675,000 dollars on lobbying expenses in 2011, according to OpenSecrets.org, although it was below the $1.2 million spent in 2010.

And it’s not just the contractors who are profiting. The person tasked with coordinating USAID’s relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake has personally benefited from the “gold rush” for contracts. Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas, in their article, “Seven Places Where Earthquake Money Did and Did Not Go” write:

Capitalizing on the disaster, Lewis Lucke, a high ranking USAID relief coordinator, met twice in his USAID capacity with the Haitian Prime Minister immediately after the quake. He then quit the agency and was hired for $30,000 a month by a Florida corporation Ashbritt (known already for its big no bid Katrina grants) and a prosperous Haitian partner to lobby for disaster contracts. Locke said “it became clear to us that if it was handled correctly the earthquake represented as much an opportunity as it did a calamity…” Ashbritt and its Haitian partner were soon granted a $10 million no bid contract. Lucke said he was instrumental in securing another $10 million contract from the World Bank and another smaller one from CHF International before their relationship ended.

UPDATE 1/05: The article has been edited slightly for accuracy.

In March 2010, the New Orleans inspector general found that a major contractor for the city’s recovery efforts, MWH Americas, had been overcharging the city. The Times-Picayune reported at the time:

The controversial engineering firm hired to manage New Orleans’ massive rebuilding effort has been operating for more than two years under a dubiously awarded contract that has allowed it to overbill the city repeatedly even as the bricks-and-mortar recovery work it oversees has lagged, according to a draft report by the city’s inspector general.

Now this same company accused of wrongdoing in New Orleans has landed a USAID contract for work in Haiti. And it’s not the first time this has happened. MWH announced on December 21 that it had received a $2.8 million contract to conduct a feasibility study for port infrastructure in northern Haiti (the contract was signed on September 23). The company’s release goes on:

The $2.8 million contract will include a market demand and project finance structure study, economic feasibility analysis, and the preparation of a detailed technical study including geotechnical, environmental assessment, operational performance, water supply system, emergency response, access roads and institutional and regulatory assessment. The project is expected to be complete in May 2012.

The awarding of the contract to Colorado-based MWH, despite a record of waste and abuse, is consistent with other contracts awarded by USAID in the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake. Overall, USAID has awarded over $300 million in contracts, with only 0.02 percent going directly to Haitian firms. The largest contractor is Chemonics, a company with a long record of waste and abuse in Afghanistan and which was criticized by the USAID inspector general last year for its work in Haiti. MWH Global, the parent company of MWH Americas, spent over $675,000 dollars on lobbying expenses in 2011, according to OpenSecrets.org, although it was below the $1.2 million spent in 2010.

And it’s not just the contractors who are profiting. The person tasked with coordinating USAID’s relief efforts in the aftermath of the earthquake has personally benefited from the “gold rush” for contracts. Bill Quigley and Amber Ramanauskas, in their article, “Seven Places Where Earthquake Money Did and Did Not Go” write:

Capitalizing on the disaster, Lewis Lucke, a high ranking USAID relief coordinator, met twice in his USAID capacity with the Haitian Prime Minister immediately after the quake. He then quit the agency and was hired for $30,000 a month by a Florida corporation Ashbritt (known already for its big no bid Katrina grants) and a prosperous Haitian partner to lobby for disaster contracts. Locke said “it became clear to us that if it was handled correctly the earthquake represented as much an opportunity as it did a calamity…” Ashbritt and its Haitian partner were soon granted a $10 million no bid contract. Lucke said he was instrumental in securing another $10 million contract from the World Bank and another smaller one from CHF International before their relationship ended.

UPDATE 1/05: The article has been edited slightly for accuracy.

A recent report by Haiti Grassroots Watch examines Haiti’s much trumpeted apparel manufacturing, planned for significant expansion with the new Caracol Industrial Park, which is “being built with 124 million dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds, and another 55 million dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank.” At the park’s groundbreaking ceremony last month, Haitian President Michel Martelly said “Haiti is open for business,”  and “This model of investment will allow Haitians to feel proud.” Reuters reported that “Martelly said the park could eventually provide jobs for 65,000 workers, which would increase Haiti’s garment industry workforce by more than 200 percent.”

But among HGW’s key findings are that:

  • Haitian workers earn less today than they did under the Duvalier dictatorship.
  • Over one-half the average daily wage is used up to pay for lunch and transportation costs to and from work.

HGW’s investigative reporters interviewed a factory worker named Evelyn Pierre-Paul, who

hasn’t been able to save up a year’s rent yet. Twenty-three months after the catastrophe that killed hundreds of thousands, she and her children are still living under a tent in one of the capital’s hundreds of squalid refugee camps.

Pierre-Paul’s average daily take-home wage is actually more than Haiti’s minimum factory wage of 150 gourdes, or 3.75 dollars, a day. She earns about 236 gourdes, or 5.90 dollars a day. But that doesn’t cover even one-quarter of what would be considered a family’s most basic expenses.

HGW also notes that

A recent study by the U.S.-based Solidarity Center, which is linked to the AFL-CIO trade union federation, determined that a “living wage” for a worker with two children is 749 dollars a month – almost five times the average monthly wage.

Pierre-Paul’s wage – about 150 dollars a month – is far from “living”. She can’t afford to send all her children to school. She can’t even afford to move out of the squalid camp.

Pierre-Paul’s boss, One World Apparel owner Charles Baker, admits that he doesn’t pay his workers enough.

“If a person is honest, it’s clear that it’s not enough,” Baker, a two-time presidential candidate, told HGW. “If I could give a worker 1,000 gourdes a day, I’d pay that. But the conditions in Haiti don’t permit us to pay 1,000 gourdes.”

But are factory owners such as Baker solely responsible for the low wages?

Baker and other factory owners claim they can’t pay more because of they did, their international clients – like Gildan Activewear, Hanes, Levis, GAP, Banana Republic, K-Mart and Wal-Mart – would pick up and move out. And so the Haitian government – with the full backing of the U.S. government, as recent Wikileaked cables revealed – remains the lowest wage in the hemisphere-wide “race to the bottom”.

“Yes, it’s a race to the bottom… if you count on it!” Baker said.

But investors and policy planners in both the Haitian government and outside it (such as Bill Clinton), do seem to be counting on it. Clinton and other influential figures gave strong backing to economic development proposals [PDF] put forward by economist Paul Collier even before the earthquake, with a strong emphasis on apparel production. But

Baker claims that low-wage, low-skilled assembly industries are temporary, and that they will be a big part of the Haitian economy for only about “10 or 15 years”.

“It’s a step. We’re going up the stairs and it’s one of the steps,” he said.

Haiti has been on the same step for almost 30 years. [See story #4]

Low wages are not the only part of the “race to the bottom” in labor flexibility that factory owners like Baker use to bid for contracts for major foreign retailers. HGW reports

In the meantime, Baker and other Haitian factory owners remain vehemently anti-union, according to workers like Pierre-Paul and according to a recent study by the United Nations-affiliated International Labor Association/Better Work programme.

In an April 2011, report, the Haiti branch of the agency noted, “very significant challenges related to the rights of workers to freely form, join, and participate in independent trade unions in this industry in Haiti.”

Indeed, five months later, about a week after textile workers in the capital registered a union, all five union leaders suddenly lost their jobs. Better Work recently ruled the factories should reinstate all union officers but as of Dec. 12, most of the owners had not complied.

In part two of their report, HGW describes how the planned industrial park could push people from farming to low-wage factory labor, in a very direct way:

The area chosen for the country’s new 243-hectare Caracol Industrial Park is near the coast, halfway between the northern cities of Cap- Haitien and Ounaminthe. It was recommended by a U.S.-based consulting firm hired by the Ministry of Economy and Finances (MEF), Koios Associates. Koios’s September 2010 study said the site was ideal, in part because the land was “devoid of habitation and intensive cultivation”.

Except it wasn’t quite “devoid”. The Caracol site was home to 300 farming plots.

“The place they chose to put the park is the most fertile area of the department,” farmer Renel Pierre explained to HGW. “In Chambert, they grow plantains, beans, manioc and other things. If, for city people, their ‘treasury’ is their savings account book, for peasants, their ‘treasury’ is this land.”

But last January, without notice, contractors put fences around 243 hectares, mostly lands that had been leased by peasant families from the state for decades. Most of the farmers have been paid for their lost crops, and many have been offered replacement land, but in less fertile areas.

Putting an industrial park – which will attract between 20,000 and 200,000 new residents – in the midst of a fertile area is not necessarily going to contribute to Haiti’s “sustainable development”, despite government claims to the contrary, economist [Camille] Chalmers notes. Haiti has gone from virtual food self-sufficiency three decades ago to importing over 60 percent of its food. Taking more land out of production will only increase that figure.

Further on, HGW reports that

Perhaps just as disturbing is the fact that the park is being set up in the middle of one of Haiti’s major watersheds. But, according to the Koios study, this is precisely the reason the site was chosen, because “it is capable of absorbing a large volume of treated water.”

Despite being slated to be home to Haiti’s first modern textile mill – which will be using toxic dyes – the Caracol park is being built only about five kilometres from the Caracol Bay, home to some of the country’s last mangrove forests and coral reefs.

A recent report by Haiti Grassroots Watch examines Haiti’s much trumpeted apparel manufacturing, planned for significant expansion with the new Caracol Industrial Park, which is “being built with 124 million dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds, and another 55 million dollars from the Inter-American Development Bank.” At the park’s groundbreaking ceremony last month, Haitian President Michel Martelly said “Haiti is open for business,”  and “This model of investment will allow Haitians to feel proud.” Reuters reported that “Martelly said the park could eventually provide jobs for 65,000 workers, which would increase Haiti’s garment industry workforce by more than 200 percent.”

But among HGW’s key findings are that:

  • Haitian workers earn less today than they did under the Duvalier dictatorship.
  • Over one-half the average daily wage is used up to pay for lunch and transportation costs to and from work.

HGW’s investigative reporters interviewed a factory worker named Evelyn Pierre-Paul, who

hasn’t been able to save up a year’s rent yet. Twenty-three months after the catastrophe that killed hundreds of thousands, she and her children are still living under a tent in one of the capital’s hundreds of squalid refugee camps.

Pierre-Paul’s average daily take-home wage is actually more than Haiti’s minimum factory wage of 150 gourdes, or 3.75 dollars, a day. She earns about 236 gourdes, or 5.90 dollars a day. But that doesn’t cover even one-quarter of what would be considered a family’s most basic expenses.

HGW also notes that

A recent study by the U.S.-based Solidarity Center, which is linked to the AFL-CIO trade union federation, determined that a “living wage” for a worker with two children is 749 dollars a month – almost five times the average monthly wage.

Pierre-Paul’s wage – about 150 dollars a month – is far from “living”. She can’t afford to send all her children to school. She can’t even afford to move out of the squalid camp.

Pierre-Paul’s boss, One World Apparel owner Charles Baker, admits that he doesn’t pay his workers enough.

“If a person is honest, it’s clear that it’s not enough,” Baker, a two-time presidential candidate, told HGW. “If I could give a worker 1,000 gourdes a day, I’d pay that. But the conditions in Haiti don’t permit us to pay 1,000 gourdes.”

But are factory owners such as Baker solely responsible for the low wages?

Baker and other factory owners claim they can’t pay more because of they did, their international clients – like Gildan Activewear, Hanes, Levis, GAP, Banana Republic, K-Mart and Wal-Mart – would pick up and move out. And so the Haitian government – with the full backing of the U.S. government, as recent Wikileaked cables revealed – remains the lowest wage in the hemisphere-wide “race to the bottom”.

“Yes, it’s a race to the bottom… if you count on it!” Baker said.

But investors and policy planners in both the Haitian government and outside it (such as Bill Clinton), do seem to be counting on it. Clinton and other influential figures gave strong backing to economic development proposals [PDF] put forward by economist Paul Collier even before the earthquake, with a strong emphasis on apparel production. But

Baker claims that low-wage, low-skilled assembly industries are temporary, and that they will be a big part of the Haitian economy for only about “10 or 15 years”.

“It’s a step. We’re going up the stairs and it’s one of the steps,” he said.

Haiti has been on the same step for almost 30 years. [See story #4]

Low wages are not the only part of the “race to the bottom” in labor flexibility that factory owners like Baker use to bid for contracts for major foreign retailers. HGW reports

In the meantime, Baker and other Haitian factory owners remain vehemently anti-union, according to workers like Pierre-Paul and according to a recent study by the United Nations-affiliated International Labor Association/Better Work programme.

In an April 2011, report, the Haiti branch of the agency noted, “very significant challenges related to the rights of workers to freely form, join, and participate in independent trade unions in this industry in Haiti.”

Indeed, five months later, about a week after textile workers in the capital registered a union, all five union leaders suddenly lost their jobs. Better Work recently ruled the factories should reinstate all union officers but as of Dec. 12, most of the owners had not complied.

In part two of their report, HGW describes how the planned industrial park could push people from farming to low-wage factory labor, in a very direct way:

The area chosen for the country’s new 243-hectare Caracol Industrial Park is near the coast, halfway between the northern cities of Cap- Haitien and Ounaminthe. It was recommended by a U.S.-based consulting firm hired by the Ministry of Economy and Finances (MEF), Koios Associates. Koios’s September 2010 study said the site was ideal, in part because the land was “devoid of habitation and intensive cultivation”.

Except it wasn’t quite “devoid”. The Caracol site was home to 300 farming plots.

“The place they chose to put the park is the most fertile area of the department,” farmer Renel Pierre explained to HGW. “In Chambert, they grow plantains, beans, manioc and other things. If, for city people, their ‘treasury’ is their savings account book, for peasants, their ‘treasury’ is this land.”

But last January, without notice, contractors put fences around 243 hectares, mostly lands that had been leased by peasant families from the state for decades. Most of the farmers have been paid for their lost crops, and many have been offered replacement land, but in less fertile areas.

Putting an industrial park – which will attract between 20,000 and 200,000 new residents – in the midst of a fertile area is not necessarily going to contribute to Haiti’s “sustainable development”, despite government claims to the contrary, economist [Camille] Chalmers notes. Haiti has gone from virtual food self-sufficiency three decades ago to importing over 60 percent of its food. Taking more land out of production will only increase that figure.

Further on, HGW reports that

Perhaps just as disturbing is the fact that the park is being set up in the middle of one of Haiti’s major watersheds. But, according to the Koios study, this is precisely the reason the site was chosen, because “it is capable of absorbing a large volume of treated water.”

Despite being slated to be home to Haiti’s first modern textile mill – which will be using toxic dyes – the Caracol park is being built only about five kilometres from the Caracol Bay, home to some of the country’s last mangrove forests and coral reefs.

Yesterday, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) released a statement calling on MINUSTAH to take responsibility for the cholera outbreak in Haiti that has already killed over 7,000. In the release, CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot says, “This is a case of criminal negligence, and the UN, if it is to continue to be worthy of the respect of people around the world, must own up to the fact that it caused this problem.” Today, Weisbrot writes in The Guardian (UK):

If an international agency brought a deadly disease to New York City that killed more people than the 9/11 attacks, what would be the consequences?  Could they simply brush it off and have nobody hold them accountable for the damages?  The answer is obviously “no,” and the same would be true for most of the countries in this hemisphere.  But so far, it looks like they can get away with it in Haiti.

For some reason the “international community” thinks that it can get away with anything in Haiti.  More than 7,000 Haitians have been killed since October of 2010 by the deadly cholera bacteria that UN troops brought to Haiti.  More than 500,000 have been infected, and the disease – which Haiti has not had in more than a century – is now endemic to the country and will be killing people there for many years to come.

Last week, UN officials once again denied  responsibility for the disaster, and even lied publicly about the available scientific research – some of which was included in the UN’s own report on the epidemic. On Thursday Nigel Fisher, the UN’s Deputy Special Representative for MINUSTAH said, “The cholera strain we have in Haiti is the same as the one they have in Latin America and Africa. They all derive from Bangladesh in the 1960s so they are all an Asian strain.

“But the UN’s own report stated definitively that this was not true: “Overall, this basic bacteriological information indicates the Haitian isolates were similar to the Vibrio cholerae strains currently circulating in South Asia and parts of Africa, and not to strains isolated in the Gulf of Mexico [or] those found in other parts of Latin America …”

So according to the UN’s own research, Fisher was lying.  The UN’s denials of its responsibility for introducing cholera in Haiti are analogous to the dishonesty of “climate change deniers.”  The evidence for the origin of the epidemic is overwhelming.

To read the rest of the article, click here. To see the article on the original website, click here.

Yesterday, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) released a statement calling on MINUSTAH to take responsibility for the cholera outbreak in Haiti that has already killed over 7,000. In the release, CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot says, “This is a case of criminal negligence, and the UN, if it is to continue to be worthy of the respect of people around the world, must own up to the fact that it caused this problem.” Today, Weisbrot writes in The Guardian (UK):

If an international agency brought a deadly disease to New York City that killed more people than the 9/11 attacks, what would be the consequences?  Could they simply brush it off and have nobody hold them accountable for the damages?  The answer is obviously “no,” and the same would be true for most of the countries in this hemisphere.  But so far, it looks like they can get away with it in Haiti.

For some reason the “international community” thinks that it can get away with anything in Haiti.  More than 7,000 Haitians have been killed since October of 2010 by the deadly cholera bacteria that UN troops brought to Haiti.  More than 500,000 have been infected, and the disease – which Haiti has not had in more than a century – is now endemic to the country and will be killing people there for many years to come.

Last week, UN officials once again denied  responsibility for the disaster, and even lied publicly about the available scientific research – some of which was included in the UN’s own report on the epidemic. On Thursday Nigel Fisher, the UN’s Deputy Special Representative for MINUSTAH said, “The cholera strain we have in Haiti is the same as the one they have in Latin America and Africa. They all derive from Bangladesh in the 1960s so they are all an Asian strain.

“But the UN’s own report stated definitively that this was not true: “Overall, this basic bacteriological information indicates the Haitian isolates were similar to the Vibrio cholerae strains currently circulating in South Asia and parts of Africa, and not to strains isolated in the Gulf of Mexico [or] those found in other parts of Latin America …”

So according to the UN’s own research, Fisher was lying.  The UN’s denials of its responsibility for introducing cholera in Haiti are analogous to the dishonesty of “climate change deniers.”  The evidence for the origin of the epidemic is overwhelming.

To read the rest of the article, click here. To see the article on the original website, click here.

An independent evaluation of shelter provision released last week by Estudios Proyectos y Planificación S.A., under commission of the International Federation of the Red Cross, provides perhaps the first systematic evaluation of the provision of shelter since the earthquake nearly two years ago. The report, while acknowledging the tremendous constraints in post-earthquake Haiti and pointing to some notable successes, is highly critical of the overall effort on the part of the international community despite the fact that “money was not an issue for the shelter response.”

The report focuses on the Shelter Cluster, which took the lead in providing emergency and then interim shelter solutions in Haiti, finding that affected populations and Haitian institutions were excluded from the process and a rigid, singular focus on transitional shelters (T-shelters) hindered the ability to develop a comprehensive housing solution.

Meetings were most often conducted in English and access was restricted inside the UN Log base leading to “a barrier between the international response system and the Haitian institutions.” One government official states that, “[o]ur ideas were not taken too much into consideration. Some said it is because we didn’t have the capacity [to actively participate in the cluster’s decisions] (…) Perhaps we were weak but we were there and tried, but they [shelter agencies] wouldn’t listen to us.”

The evaluation found that “a more participatory strategy would have been desirable to better address the affected population’s needs and plans and to seek collaboration with them, to allow a more self-driven response and to reduce the burden on the humanitarian actors.”

“Affected people were not consulted nor their capacities considered, the response was what those with the [foreign] money decided,” one interviewee told the evaluation team.

‘Unbearable’ Conditions

The Shelter Cluster strategy, developed soon after the earthquake, focused on two stages: an emergency phase lasting three months and then an interim phase which aimed to provide full coverage of transitional shelter within 12 months.

The evaluation notes the successful distribution of tarpaulins in the first four months; however, because the interim strategy was significantly delayed, the “shelter sector did not accurately measure follow up emergency shelter needs” or integrate “reinforcement/replacement actions” into a comprehensive strategy.

Additionally, while the Shelter Cluster reported shelter coverage of over 100 percent, HRRW noted at the time that this did not take into account gaps in coverage at certain locations, resulting in an estimated 232,130 people being without any sort of shelter five months after the earthquake.

The resulting conditions in the camps as the rainy season neared were untenable. It was found that “the protection against rainfall did not last long and they [emergency shelters] had no protection against winds or water (they flooded very often). Almost all the participants in the focus groups described the conditions of the emergency shelter solution as ‘infrahuman’, ‘unbearable’, or simply ‘very bad’.”

Additionally, the evaluation could find no documentation that “the decision to fix two tarpaulins per family as the main emergency shelter support is based upon the capacities of the population to complete the shelter solution,” and that in most cases agencies “did not take into consideration the family size when delivering the solution”.

“It did not matter if there were three or nine in a family, they gave everybody the same,” said one interviewee.

Confirming reports from the time that emergency shelter was often sub-standard and did little to provide protection both from the elements and from crime, the evaluation found that “some of the Sphere shelter standards indicators were not initially met” and that “site planning and design of emergency and interim shelter did not enhance protection or reduce the risks of gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, by integrating aspects such as family-size shelters or partitioning shelters.”

Cost Overruns, Lack of Flexibility Prevent Durable Solutions

The evaluation found that international agencies focused on T-shelters to the detriment of other more cost-effective and efficient solutions and that despite the early indication that the goals for T-shelter coverage were unrealistic, agencies were too rigid in their plans and were either unable or unwilling to change tack. NGOs preferred to focus on T-shelters as they were more visible than rental support or repairing homes.

According to the report, the provision of shelter was based more on supply than demand, i.e. what the beneficiaries needed. For instance, the estimated number of T-shelters to be built (125,000) was based not on a needs assessment but rather on what shelter agencies had pledged to provide. The evaluation notes that decisions were made by agencies “based on their previous know-how, supposed ease of implementation, outcome control, liability concerns and/or visibility,” but not the actual needs of those affected. This became especially important as the provision of T-shelters became increasingly expensive and slow.

The original total cost of the all T-shelters was $187 million, with a time frame to complete distribution of just 12 months. In the end, the report finds that it will actually take over two years and cost $530 million and even then won’t cover the entire population’s needs, which have been revised upwards.

“The transitional shelter strategy could have been revised when it became obvious that goals and deadlines would not be met, resulting in a more comprehensive longer-term transitional shelter or permanent housing approach for part of the targeted population (for instance, a greater involvement in host families’ support and rental support could have lessened the burden to deliver transitional solutions), but shelter agencies’ programmes were not flexible enough, often because of their funding commitments, or could not easily be adapted on the field,” the report states.

The Shelter Cluster often left complimentary efforts such as rubble removal to other clusters and agencies, without realistically looking at their capabilities. Agencies involved in the Shelter Cluster alleged that donors were reluctant to fund rubble removal programs or had already earmarked funding for T-shelters. Additionally, the team found “agencies were also reluctant to spend their privately-raised funds on rubble clearance, for different reasons” including the lack of visibility of rubble removal efforts as compared to T-shelter construction.

As delays mounted, the T-shelters’ “added value progressively reduced, losing relevance and even acceptance with the local authorities and the affected population.” It is of little surprise then that in their consultations with local populations, the evaluation team found that “although they value the benefits of having been upgraded from the E-Shelter [Emergency Shelter], they feel the transitional solution does not meet their family needs.”

As international agencies stubbornly clung to the T-shelter, other more sustainable plans such as housing repair and rental support that may not have brought visibility to their organization’s work or were deemed too risky were side tracked.

While housing repairs were delayed, many Haitians have already moved back into severely damaged homes. A USAID-sponsored study found that over one million people were living in “extremely dangerous” houses, those marked yellow or red. The result is that nearly two years after the earthquake, durable solutions are still lacking.

“[T]he fact is that as of the end of 2010 (and may we say, up to date) there was no clear roadmap on what to do for permanent housing in the urban setting, no model or process had been outlined, no vision or guidance was in view, and most shelter agencies did not evaluate their real capacity to engage in housing repair,” the report states.

An independent evaluation of shelter provision released last week by Estudios Proyectos y Planificación S.A., under commission of the International Federation of the Red Cross, provides perhaps the first systematic evaluation of the provision of shelter since the earthquake nearly two years ago. The report, while acknowledging the tremendous constraints in post-earthquake Haiti and pointing to some notable successes, is highly critical of the overall effort on the part of the international community despite the fact that “money was not an issue for the shelter response.”

The report focuses on the Shelter Cluster, which took the lead in providing emergency and then interim shelter solutions in Haiti, finding that affected populations and Haitian institutions were excluded from the process and a rigid, singular focus on transitional shelters (T-shelters) hindered the ability to develop a comprehensive housing solution.

Meetings were most often conducted in English and access was restricted inside the UN Log base leading to “a barrier between the international response system and the Haitian institutions.” One government official states that, “[o]ur ideas were not taken too much into consideration. Some said it is because we didn’t have the capacity [to actively participate in the cluster’s decisions] (…) Perhaps we were weak but we were there and tried, but they [shelter agencies] wouldn’t listen to us.”

The evaluation found that “a more participatory strategy would have been desirable to better address the affected population’s needs and plans and to seek collaboration with them, to allow a more self-driven response and to reduce the burden on the humanitarian actors.”

“Affected people were not consulted nor their capacities considered, the response was what those with the [foreign] money decided,” one interviewee told the evaluation team.

‘Unbearable’ Conditions

The Shelter Cluster strategy, developed soon after the earthquake, focused on two stages: an emergency phase lasting three months and then an interim phase which aimed to provide full coverage of transitional shelter within 12 months.

The evaluation notes the successful distribution of tarpaulins in the first four months; however, because the interim strategy was significantly delayed, the “shelter sector did not accurately measure follow up emergency shelter needs” or integrate “reinforcement/replacement actions” into a comprehensive strategy.

Additionally, while the Shelter Cluster reported shelter coverage of over 100 percent, HRRW noted at the time that this did not take into account gaps in coverage at certain locations, resulting in an estimated 232,130 people being without any sort of shelter five months after the earthquake.

The resulting conditions in the camps as the rainy season neared were untenable. It was found that “the protection against rainfall did not last long and they [emergency shelters] had no protection against winds or water (they flooded very often). Almost all the participants in the focus groups described the conditions of the emergency shelter solution as ‘infrahuman’, ‘unbearable’, or simply ‘very bad’.”

Additionally, the evaluation could find no documentation that “the decision to fix two tarpaulins per family as the main emergency shelter support is based upon the capacities of the population to complete the shelter solution,” and that in most cases agencies “did not take into consideration the family size when delivering the solution”.

“It did not matter if there were three or nine in a family, they gave everybody the same,” said one interviewee.

Confirming reports from the time that emergency shelter was often sub-standard and did little to provide protection both from the elements and from crime, the evaluation found that “some of the Sphere shelter standards indicators were not initially met” and that “site planning and design of emergency and interim shelter did not enhance protection or reduce the risks of gender-based violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, by integrating aspects such as family-size shelters or partitioning shelters.”

Cost Overruns, Lack of Flexibility Prevent Durable Solutions

The evaluation found that international agencies focused on T-shelters to the detriment of other more cost-effective and efficient solutions and that despite the early indication that the goals for T-shelter coverage were unrealistic, agencies were too rigid in their plans and were either unable or unwilling to change tack. NGOs preferred to focus on T-shelters as they were more visible than rental support or repairing homes.

According to the report, the provision of shelter was based more on supply than demand, i.e. what the beneficiaries needed. For instance, the estimated number of T-shelters to be built (125,000) was based not on a needs assessment but rather on what shelter agencies had pledged to provide. The evaluation notes that decisions were made by agencies “based on their previous know-how, supposed ease of implementation, outcome control, liability concerns and/or visibility,” but not the actual needs of those affected. This became especially important as the provision of T-shelters became increasingly expensive and slow.

The original total cost of the all T-shelters was $187 million, with a time frame to complete distribution of just 12 months. In the end, the report finds that it will actually take over two years and cost $530 million and even then won’t cover the entire population’s needs, which have been revised upwards.

“The transitional shelter strategy could have been revised when it became obvious that goals and deadlines would not be met, resulting in a more comprehensive longer-term transitional shelter or permanent housing approach for part of the targeted population (for instance, a greater involvement in host families’ support and rental support could have lessened the burden to deliver transitional solutions), but shelter agencies’ programmes were not flexible enough, often because of their funding commitments, or could not easily be adapted on the field,” the report states.

The Shelter Cluster often left complimentary efforts such as rubble removal to other clusters and agencies, without realistically looking at their capabilities. Agencies involved in the Shelter Cluster alleged that donors were reluctant to fund rubble removal programs or had already earmarked funding for T-shelters. Additionally, the team found “agencies were also reluctant to spend their privately-raised funds on rubble clearance, for different reasons” including the lack of visibility of rubble removal efforts as compared to T-shelter construction.

As delays mounted, the T-shelters’ “added value progressively reduced, losing relevance and even acceptance with the local authorities and the affected population.” It is of little surprise then that in their consultations with local populations, the evaluation team found that “although they value the benefits of having been upgraded from the E-Shelter [Emergency Shelter], they feel the transitional solution does not meet their family needs.”

As international agencies stubbornly clung to the T-shelter, other more sustainable plans such as housing repair and rental support that may not have brought visibility to their organization’s work or were deemed too risky were side tracked.

While housing repairs were delayed, many Haitians have already moved back into severely damaged homes. A USAID-sponsored study found that over one million people were living in “extremely dangerous” houses, those marked yellow or red. The result is that nearly two years after the earthquake, durable solutions are still lacking.

“[T]he fact is that as of the end of 2010 (and may we say, up to date) there was no clear roadmap on what to do for permanent housing in the urban setting, no model or process had been outlined, no vision or guidance was in view, and most shelter agencies did not evaluate their real capacity to engage in housing repair,” the report states.

MINUSTAH by the Numbers

The United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Haiti, MINUSTAH by its French acronym, has been the target of recent popular protests and a source of controversy because of its role in re-introducing cholera to Haiti, the sexual assault of a young Haitian man and other past abuses. On November 3, 2011 the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and Bureau des Avocats Internationaux filed a legal complaint on behalf of over 5,000 cholera victims seeking damages from the United Nations. The UN has so far not responded or given a timetable for a response.

Here is MINUSTAH, by the numbers:

Percent of worldwide UN peacekeepers that are in Haiti, despite it not being a war zone: 12.5

Number of MINUSTAH troops (military and police) currently in Haiti: 12,552

Rank in size among the 16 UN peacekeeping operations worldwide: 3

Rank in size of Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively: 1, 2

Percent of Haiti’s annual government expenditures to which MINUSTAH’s budget is equivalent: 50

Percent of Haiti’s GDP to which MINUSTAH’s budget is equivalent: 10.7

Total estimated cost of MINUSTAH since the earthquake: $1,556,461,550

Percent of UN peacekeeping operations worldwide funded by the United States: 27

Percent the U.S. has disbursed out of its $1.15 billion pledge at the March 2010 donor conference: 18.8

Percent of the U.S.’ contributions to MINUSTAH since the earthquake that this represents: 41

Factor by which MINUSTAH’s budget exceeds the amount of funds the UN’s cholera appeal has raised: 8

Percent of MINUSTAH’s budget it would take to fully fund the UN’s cholera appeal: 1.7

Number of days operating expenses it would take to fund a cholera vaccination campaign that would cover the entire country: 18

Percent of a single day’s MINUSTAH budget that the cholera vaccination pilot program will use over its multiple-week lifespan: 40

Minimum number of people killed from cholera in Haiti since October 2010: 6,908

Number of people killed by homicide in Haiti in 2010: 689

Number of people, per 10 million (roughly the population of Haiti), killed by homicide in Brazil, the largest troop contributor to MINUSTAH: 2,270

Number of cholera victims who filed a claim with the UN seeking damages: 5,000

Number of cholera victims: 513,997

Rate per minute that Haitians were falling ill with cholera in July 2011: 1

Amount by which MINUSTAH’s budget exceeds the UN’s 2012 humanitarian appeal for Haiti: $562,517,100

Number of MINUSTAH personnel who were repatriated this year after a cell phone video emerged showing troops sexually assaulting a young Haitian man: 5

Number of successful prosecutions against over 100 MINUSTAH troops repatriated to Sri Lanka after allegations of involvement in child prostitution surfaced in 2007: 0

Number of standing claims commissions set up by the UN under Status of Forces Agreements so that local population may have means of redress from peacekeepers, historically: 0

Years MINUSTAH has been in Haiti: 7

Shortfall in trained national police officers that are supposed to take over for MINUSTAH: 10,000

Rank among Haiti’s top donors, including governments, that MINUSTAH would be if its budget went towards relief and reconstruction efforts: 3

Date on which cholera was discovered: October 21, 2010

Date the head of MINUSTAH was reported saying it was “really unfair” to accuse the UN of bringing cholera to Haiti: November 22, 2010

Distance, in miles, from the Nepalese MINUSTAH base to the location of the first reported case of cholera: .1

Date on which scientific paper confirmed that Haitian and Nepalese samples of cholera were “almost identical”: August 23, 2011

Days since the cholera outbreak it has taken for the UN to accept responsibility: 413 (and counting)

Date on which MINUSTAH’s mandate was extended through 2012: October 14, 2011

Percent of Haitians in a recent survey who said they wanted MINUSTAH gone within a year: 65


Sources: 1. According to the United Nations there are currently 99,329 uniformed peacekeeping troops across the World. In Haiti there are 12,552. 2. MINUSTAH. 3. United Nations Peacekeeping. 4. United Nations Peacekeeping Fact Sheet. 5. IMF data and MINUSTAH. 6. IMF data and MINUSTAH. 7. The 2009/10 budget was $611,751,200, the 2010/11 budget was $853,827,400 and the 2011/2012 budget is $793,517,100. To reach the total since the earthquake, half of the 2009/10 total was added to the entire 2010/2011 total and to half of the 2011/2012 total. Data from UN Peacekeeping. 8. U.S. and Europe fight over cuts in peacekeeping, from Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blog. 9. UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti. 10. See 7 and 8, above. 11. According to the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, $95 million has been contributed to the cholera appeal. 12. The cholera appeal is seeking $109 million, leaving a shortfall of $14 million. 13. Estimated cost of a cholera vaccination program covering the entire country is $40 million. 14. The cost of the pilot cholera vaccination program is about $870,000. 15. Ministère de la santé publique et de la population. 16. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 17. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 18. Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 19. Ministère de la santé publique et de la population. 20. Jake Johnston and Keane Bhatt, Not Doing Enough: Unnecessary Sickness and Death from Cholera in Haiti. CEPR. 21. The UN’s 2012 Humanitarian Appeal for Haiti is for $231 million. 22. UN peacekeepers to be deported from Haiti, UN Media. 23. Greg Grandin and Keane Bhatt, 10 Reasons Why the UN Occupation of Haiti Must End. The Nation. 24. Amy Lieberman, Haiti Cholera Case Raises Questions About U.N. Accountability. World Politics Review. 25. MINUSTAH 26. It is estimated that Haiti needs 20,000 trained police, they currently have around 10,000. 27. UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti. 28. Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 29. Jessica Desvarieux, TIME: At the Heart of Haiti’s Cholera Riots, Anger at the U.N. 30. Final Report of the Independent Panel of Experts on the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti. 31. The UN continues to deny responsibility. 32. MINUSTAH. 33. Gordon and Young, Columbia University. Although the headline reads “Survey Shows 60% of Haitians Support Troubled Peacekeeping Mission”, the data shows that 30% want immediate withdrawal, 10% want withdrawal within 6 months and an additional 25% want withdrawal within a year.

With due respect to Harper’s.

The United Nations Peacekeeping operation in Haiti, MINUSTAH by its French acronym, has been the target of recent popular protests and a source of controversy because of its role in re-introducing cholera to Haiti, the sexual assault of a young Haitian man and other past abuses. On November 3, 2011 the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti and Bureau des Avocats Internationaux filed a legal complaint on behalf of over 5,000 cholera victims seeking damages from the United Nations. The UN has so far not responded or given a timetable for a response.

Here is MINUSTAH, by the numbers:

Percent of worldwide UN peacekeepers that are in Haiti, despite it not being a war zone: 12.5

Number of MINUSTAH troops (military and police) currently in Haiti: 12,552

Rank in size among the 16 UN peacekeeping operations worldwide: 3

Rank in size of Darfur and the Democratic Republic of Congo, respectively: 1, 2

Percent of Haiti’s annual government expenditures to which MINUSTAH’s budget is equivalent: 50

Percent of Haiti’s GDP to which MINUSTAH’s budget is equivalent: 10.7

Total estimated cost of MINUSTAH since the earthquake: $1,556,461,550

Percent of UN peacekeeping operations worldwide funded by the United States: 27

Percent the U.S. has disbursed out of its $1.15 billion pledge at the March 2010 donor conference: 18.8

Percent of the U.S.’ contributions to MINUSTAH since the earthquake that this represents: 41

Factor by which MINUSTAH’s budget exceeds the amount of funds the UN’s cholera appeal has raised: 8

Percent of MINUSTAH’s budget it would take to fully fund the UN’s cholera appeal: 1.7

Number of days operating expenses it would take to fund a cholera vaccination campaign that would cover the entire country: 18

Percent of a single day’s MINUSTAH budget that the cholera vaccination pilot program will use over its multiple-week lifespan: 40

Minimum number of people killed from cholera in Haiti since October 2010: 6,908

Number of people killed by homicide in Haiti in 2010: 689

Number of people, per 10 million (roughly the population of Haiti), killed by homicide in Brazil, the largest troop contributor to MINUSTAH: 2,270

Number of cholera victims who filed a claim with the UN seeking damages: 5,000

Number of cholera victims: 513,997

Rate per minute that Haitians were falling ill with cholera in July 2011: 1

Amount by which MINUSTAH’s budget exceeds the UN’s 2012 humanitarian appeal for Haiti: $562,517,100

Number of MINUSTAH personnel who were repatriated this year after a cell phone video emerged showing troops sexually assaulting a young Haitian man: 5

Number of successful prosecutions against over 100 MINUSTAH troops repatriated to Sri Lanka after allegations of involvement in child prostitution surfaced in 2007: 0

Number of standing claims commissions set up by the UN under Status of Forces Agreements so that local population may have means of redress from peacekeepers, historically: 0

Years MINUSTAH has been in Haiti: 7

Shortfall in trained national police officers that are supposed to take over for MINUSTAH: 10,000

Rank among Haiti’s top donors, including governments, that MINUSTAH would be if its budget went towards relief and reconstruction efforts: 3

Date on which cholera was discovered: October 21, 2010

Date the head of MINUSTAH was reported saying it was “really unfair” to accuse the UN of bringing cholera to Haiti: November 22, 2010

Distance, in miles, from the Nepalese MINUSTAH base to the location of the first reported case of cholera: .1

Date on which scientific paper confirmed that Haitian and Nepalese samples of cholera were “almost identical”: August 23, 2011

Days since the cholera outbreak it has taken for the UN to accept responsibility: 413 (and counting)

Date on which MINUSTAH’s mandate was extended through 2012: October 14, 2011

Percent of Haitians in a recent survey who said they wanted MINUSTAH gone within a year: 65


Sources: 1. According to the United Nations there are currently 99,329 uniformed peacekeeping troops across the World. In Haiti there are 12,552. 2. MINUSTAH. 3. United Nations Peacekeeping. 4. United Nations Peacekeeping Fact Sheet. 5. IMF data and MINUSTAH. 6. IMF data and MINUSTAH. 7. The 2009/10 budget was $611,751,200, the 2010/11 budget was $853,827,400 and the 2011/2012 budget is $793,517,100. To reach the total since the earthquake, half of the 2009/10 total was added to the entire 2010/2011 total and to half of the 2011/2012 total. Data from UN Peacekeeping. 8. U.S. and Europe fight over cuts in peacekeeping, from Foreign Policy’s Turtle Bay blog. 9. UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti. 10. See 7 and 8, above. 11. According to the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, $95 million has been contributed to the cholera appeal. 12. The cholera appeal is seeking $109 million, leaving a shortfall of $14 million. 13. Estimated cost of a cholera vaccination program covering the entire country is $40 million. 14. The cost of the pilot cholera vaccination program is about $870,000. 15. Ministère de la santé publique et de la population. 16. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 17. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 18. Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 19. Ministère de la santé publique et de la population. 20. Jake Johnston and Keane Bhatt, Not Doing Enough: Unnecessary Sickness and Death from Cholera in Haiti. CEPR. 21. The UN’s 2012 Humanitarian Appeal for Haiti is for $231 million. 22. UN peacekeepers to be deported from Haiti, UN Media. 23. Greg Grandin and Keane Bhatt, 10 Reasons Why the UN Occupation of Haiti Must End. The Nation. 24. Amy Lieberman, Haiti Cholera Case Raises Questions About U.N. Accountability. World Politics Review. 25. MINUSTAH 26. It is estimated that Haiti needs 20,000 trained police, they currently have around 10,000. 27. UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti. 28. Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 29. Jessica Desvarieux, TIME: At the Heart of Haiti’s Cholera Riots, Anger at the U.N. 30. Final Report of the Independent Panel of Experts on the Cholera Outbreak in Haiti. 31. The UN continues to deny responsibility. 32. MINUSTAH. 33. Gordon and Young, Columbia University. Although the headline reads “Survey Shows 60% of Haitians Support Troubled Peacekeeping Mission”, the data shows that 30% want immediate withdrawal, 10% want withdrawal within 6 months and an additional 25% want withdrawal within a year.

With due respect to Harper’s.

CEPR research assistant and HRRW contributor Jake Johnston writes in The Hill’s Congress Blog today:

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, the U.S. launched an unprecedented relief effort, eventually totaling over one billion dollars. But the lead agency in the immediate aftermath was not the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as is typically the case when our nation provides humanitarian assistance, but the military.  Just after the earthquake, the U.S. had over 20,000 troops in Haiti. Of the $1.1 billion in humanitarian funding from the U.S. in 2010, nearly half was channeled to the Department of Defense.

As has been the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, relief efforts have relied heavily on contractors, a number of which have a history of waste, fraud and abuse. An analysis of federal contracts has revealed that Kuwait-based Agility Logistics (formerly PWC Logistics) — currently under indictment for overcharging the U.S. military by up to $1 billion — has benefited from over $16 million in funding awarded in the aftermath of the earthquake.

With so much on the line, the U.S government, across the board, must step up its oversight of contractors to ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted on companies with poor track records.

Agility has been barred from receiving government contracts since November 2009, when a federal grand jury indicted the company for overcharging the U.S. military on $8 billion in contracts to supply food for troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. Agility was accused of “intentionally failing to purchase less expensive food items, knowingly manipulating and inflating prices, and receiving product rebates and discounts that it did not pass on to the government as required.” The prospect of additional charges still exists.

In November 2009 Agility was added to the U.S.’s Excluded Party List System (EPLS), which prevents them from procuring contracts from any government agency. The EPLS designation has been extended to over 125 related organizations as the investigation has continued; all of them have been indefinitely barred.

Despite the blacklist designation Agility was able to secure government funding for work in Haiti through a joint venture. An analysis of the Federal Procurement Data System shows that Contingency Response Services LLC (CRS) has received over $16 million in government funding from the Department of the Navy since the earthquake.  The particularly bland sounding Contingency Response Services consists of three defense contractor giants — Dyncorp, Parsons and Agility Logistics (then PWC logistics).

Read the rest here. The full version with more background on the other partners in CRS is available here.

CEPR research assistant and HRRW contributor Jake Johnston writes in The Hill’s Congress Blog today:

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, the U.S. launched an unprecedented relief effort, eventually totaling over one billion dollars. But the lead agency in the immediate aftermath was not the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as is typically the case when our nation provides humanitarian assistance, but the military.  Just after the earthquake, the U.S. had over 20,000 troops in Haiti. Of the $1.1 billion in humanitarian funding from the U.S. in 2010, nearly half was channeled to the Department of Defense.

As has been the case in Iraq and Afghanistan, relief efforts have relied heavily on contractors, a number of which have a history of waste, fraud and abuse. An analysis of federal contracts has revealed that Kuwait-based Agility Logistics (formerly PWC Logistics) — currently under indictment for overcharging the U.S. military by up to $1 billion — has benefited from over $16 million in funding awarded in the aftermath of the earthquake.

With so much on the line, the U.S government, across the board, must step up its oversight of contractors to ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted on companies with poor track records.

Agility has been barred from receiving government contracts since November 2009, when a federal grand jury indicted the company for overcharging the U.S. military on $8 billion in contracts to supply food for troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan. Agility was accused of “intentionally failing to purchase less expensive food items, knowingly manipulating and inflating prices, and receiving product rebates and discounts that it did not pass on to the government as required.” The prospect of additional charges still exists.

In November 2009 Agility was added to the U.S.’s Excluded Party List System (EPLS), which prevents them from procuring contracts from any government agency. The EPLS designation has been extended to over 125 related organizations as the investigation has continued; all of them have been indefinitely barred.

Despite the blacklist designation Agility was able to secure government funding for work in Haiti through a joint venture. An analysis of the Federal Procurement Data System shows that Contingency Response Services LLC (CRS) has received over $16 million in government funding from the Department of the Navy since the earthquake.  The particularly bland sounding Contingency Response Services consists of three defense contractor giants — Dyncorp, Parsons and Agility Logistics (then PWC logistics).

Read the rest here. The full version with more background on the other partners in CRS is available here.

This is the final part of a series of posts analyzing USAID’s increasing reliance on contractors and how this has affected efforts to provide greater oversight, implement procurement reform and improve the efficacy of U.S. aid. Part one is available here, part two here.

As was discussed in the previous post, the lack of oversight of large USAID contractors makes tracking the percent of funds disbursed to local subcontractors nearly impossible, yet this is not the only reason for increased transparency. It is also justified given that many of these contractors have previously been found to have performed their missions inadequately. Without increased efforts to monitor their actions, the likelihood of increased waste, fraud and abuse is only heightened. In addition to their work in Haiti, Chemonics has received hundreds of millions of dollars for activities in Afghanistan, including a $153 million contract in 2003 to improve the agricultural sector.  In 2005, the GAO found that Chemonics had failed to “address a key program objective”, and that “consequently, during its first 15 months, the project’s progress in strengthening Afghanistan`s market chain was limited.”

Despite this, Chemonics received a contract in 2006 for $102 million. Once again, the USAID Inspector General found significant problems with the program:

Chemonics reported results for all eight indicators for the first year of the program. However, the audit identified that for two of the eight indicators, reported results fell considerably short of intended results. Targets had not been established for the other six indicators making it difficult to tell how well the project was proceeding. In addition, Chemonics did not have documentation to adequately support reported results for six indicators. In two of the six cases, the support was inadequate, while in four cases there was no support at all. For example, Chemonics had inadequate support for the reported result that 1,719 individuals had received short-term agricultural training, and no support for the reported result that project activities had generated an economic value in excess of $59 million. In addition, the audit found that a major program activity—the Mazar foods initiative—was behind schedule. This $40 million initiative to cultivate 10,000 hectares for a commercial farm was not finalized in time to take advantage of the summer planting season as initially planned.

The Inspector General has also found problems with Chemonics’ performance in Haiti. The AP reported at the time of the report:

And an audit this fall by US AID’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.

Additionally, the IG noted that Chemonics was using cash-for-work programs to remove rubble from private lots, contrary to USAID policy. The report states:

[T]he audit team observed workers removing rubble from the lots of private residences next to two of the four Chemonics rubble removal sites visited during the audit. Chemonics officials later confirmed that it was clearing the residential lots in conjunction with a road renovation project. USAID program officials confirmed that there are no formal procedures for selecting private homes for clearance, that private homes do not meet USAID/OTI’s site selection criteria, and that the implementing partner had not notified USAID/OTI of the exceptions.

The most egregious part of the IG report, however, is that Chemonics and Development Alternatives International (DAI), another for-profit development firm, were operating in Haiti with no oversight. The IG report found that USAID/OTI had not conducted financial reviews of their implementing partners, concluding that “Although DAI and Chemonics were also expending millions of dollars rapidly on CFW [cash-for-work] programs in a high-risk environment, USAID/OTI had not yet performed these internal control reviews.”

The fact that these internal controls were not applied is especially troubling given information in the contract that Chemonics was operating under at the time. Specifically, the contract required that detailed financial information be provided.

The Development Industrial Complex

As USAID’s staff has continually diminished, the reliance on for-profit contractors has increased drastically. Chemonics has been one of the largest benefactors of this phenomenon worldwide. In 2001, Chemonics received nearly $40 million in government contracts; by 2011, that number had risen to nearly $700 million. Despite the success, Chemonics and other for-profit contractors are clearly threatened by the rhetoric of reform that has come from USAID. Although it is clear that USAID Forward has not made a drastic difference in the behavior of USAID in Haiti, the plan is only a few years old, and is expected to take five years in total to fully implement. Preparing for the upcoming battle, for-profit development firms formed a lobbying entity this past July, the Coalition of International Development Companies (CIDC). Josh Rogin reported for The Cable at the time:

The firms involved are also members of other large coalitions of development advocacy organizations, but the CIDC is meant to focus on for-profit businesses that have a stake in development but until now haven’t felt the need to establish their own advocacy in a public and organized manner. 

Over the next few weeks, the CIDC is planning an extensive outreach to lawmakers and administration officials to make the argument that development is a crucial element of national security and economic prosperity. The member companies have so far committed about $300,000 to the effort and are also using their in house legislative staffs and communications staffs to help.

In another recognition of the need to be more public and do more outreach, the CIDC has hired the Podesta group to aid its public relations and media outreach effort.

[The Podesta Group, incidentally, was founded by Tony Podesta and his brother, former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, who also headed President Obama’s transition team.]

In Haiti, firms belonging to CIDC have received over 70 percent of all contracts from USAID, the vast majority of which have gone to Chemonics. With the entrenched interests of large development companies, which are often staffed heavily with former USAID officials, it will take more than just rhetoric from USAID to significantly alter the way aid is administered.

This is the final part of a series of posts analyzing USAID’s increasing reliance on contractors and how this has affected efforts to provide greater oversight, implement procurement reform and improve the efficacy of U.S. aid. Part one is available here, part two here.

As was discussed in the previous post, the lack of oversight of large USAID contractors makes tracking the percent of funds disbursed to local subcontractors nearly impossible, yet this is not the only reason for increased transparency. It is also justified given that many of these contractors have previously been found to have performed their missions inadequately. Without increased efforts to monitor their actions, the likelihood of increased waste, fraud and abuse is only heightened. In addition to their work in Haiti, Chemonics has received hundreds of millions of dollars for activities in Afghanistan, including a $153 million contract in 2003 to improve the agricultural sector.  In 2005, the GAO found that Chemonics had failed to “address a key program objective”, and that “consequently, during its first 15 months, the project’s progress in strengthening Afghanistan`s market chain was limited.”

Despite this, Chemonics received a contract in 2006 for $102 million. Once again, the USAID Inspector General found significant problems with the program:

Chemonics reported results for all eight indicators for the first year of the program. However, the audit identified that for two of the eight indicators, reported results fell considerably short of intended results. Targets had not been established for the other six indicators making it difficult to tell how well the project was proceeding. In addition, Chemonics did not have documentation to adequately support reported results for six indicators. In two of the six cases, the support was inadequate, while in four cases there was no support at all. For example, Chemonics had inadequate support for the reported result that 1,719 individuals had received short-term agricultural training, and no support for the reported result that project activities had generated an economic value in excess of $59 million. In addition, the audit found that a major program activity—the Mazar foods initiative—was behind schedule. This $40 million initiative to cultivate 10,000 hectares for a commercial farm was not finalized in time to take advantage of the summer planting season as initially planned.

The Inspector General has also found problems with Chemonics’ performance in Haiti. The AP reported at the time of the report:

And an audit this fall by US AID’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.

Additionally, the IG noted that Chemonics was using cash-for-work programs to remove rubble from private lots, contrary to USAID policy. The report states:

[T]he audit team observed workers removing rubble from the lots of private residences next to two of the four Chemonics rubble removal sites visited during the audit. Chemonics officials later confirmed that it was clearing the residential lots in conjunction with a road renovation project. USAID program officials confirmed that there are no formal procedures for selecting private homes for clearance, that private homes do not meet USAID/OTI’s site selection criteria, and that the implementing partner had not notified USAID/OTI of the exceptions.

The most egregious part of the IG report, however, is that Chemonics and Development Alternatives International (DAI), another for-profit development firm, were operating in Haiti with no oversight. The IG report found that USAID/OTI had not conducted financial reviews of their implementing partners, concluding that “Although DAI and Chemonics were also expending millions of dollars rapidly on CFW [cash-for-work] programs in a high-risk environment, USAID/OTI had not yet performed these internal control reviews.”

The fact that these internal controls were not applied is especially troubling given information in the contract that Chemonics was operating under at the time. Specifically, the contract required that detailed financial information be provided.

The Development Industrial Complex

As USAID’s staff has continually diminished, the reliance on for-profit contractors has increased drastically. Chemonics has been one of the largest benefactors of this phenomenon worldwide. In 2001, Chemonics received nearly $40 million in government contracts; by 2011, that number had risen to nearly $700 million. Despite the success, Chemonics and other for-profit contractors are clearly threatened by the rhetoric of reform that has come from USAID. Although it is clear that USAID Forward has not made a drastic difference in the behavior of USAID in Haiti, the plan is only a few years old, and is expected to take five years in total to fully implement. Preparing for the upcoming battle, for-profit development firms formed a lobbying entity this past July, the Coalition of International Development Companies (CIDC). Josh Rogin reported for The Cable at the time:

The firms involved are also members of other large coalitions of development advocacy organizations, but the CIDC is meant to focus on for-profit businesses that have a stake in development but until now haven’t felt the need to establish their own advocacy in a public and organized manner. 

Over the next few weeks, the CIDC is planning an extensive outreach to lawmakers and administration officials to make the argument that development is a crucial element of national security and economic prosperity. The member companies have so far committed about $300,000 to the effort and are also using their in house legislative staffs and communications staffs to help.

In another recognition of the need to be more public and do more outreach, the CIDC has hired the Podesta group to aid its public relations and media outreach effort.

[The Podesta Group, incidentally, was founded by Tony Podesta and his brother, former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, who also headed President Obama’s transition team.]

In Haiti, firms belonging to CIDC have received over 70 percent of all contracts from USAID, the vast majority of which have gone to Chemonics. With the entrenched interests of large development companies, which are often staffed heavily with former USAID officials, it will take more than just rhetoric from USAID to significantly alter the way aid is administered.

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