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.

Earlier we reported on an Inspector General report that is extremely critical of USAID/OFDA and their grantees’ efforts in providing housing to displaced Haitians. The audit, however, also raised a separate issue, based on the fact that “USAID/OFDA’s mandate is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and reduce the economic impact of the recent earthquake in Haiti.”

The audit reported that:

As part of the audit, the audit team visited a camp where USAID/OFDA was funding the construction of 800 shelters. There we met a resident who was dying of breast cancer. The woman’s entire right breast was an open wound, and she was suffering great pain. Concerned for the welfare of this person, the audit team alerted grantee officials that the woman needed immediate medical help. The audit team members asked whether the grantee could use their knowledge of local community resources to seek help. However, the auditors were told that many people were sick in Haiti and that helping one person would lead to others asking for help.

The audit team informed USAID/OFDA of the situation, but was told by a USAID/OFDA official in Haiti that USAID could not do anything and that the issue should be taken up with the grantee.

Eventually “officials agreed to look into the matter further and review access to medical care in the camp.” The woman was hospitalized on January 3 for one night, however on January 6, 2011 the woman died. The audit concludes:

USAID/OFDA funded the construction of the shelters built in a camp to provide protection for a vulnerable portion of Haiti’s earthquake affected population. The grantee was delivering what was required under the terms of its grant—shelters—but the grantee had not anticipated that sheltering a population of vulnerable people would necessitate planning for medical care. There was neither a camp manager nor medical assistance available in the camp, and officials were not prepared to refer ill individuals to one of the numerous medical assistance organizations operating in the area. As a result, shelter beneficiaries were not receiving appropriate medical care. To minimize similar occurrences in other areas where USAID/OFDA is working, we are making the following recommendation:

Recommendation 7. We recommend that USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, in conjunction with its awardees, develop and implement procedures to identify available humanitarian resources so that vulnerable beneficiaries can be referred on a timely basis.

The USAID/OFDA management did not respond to this recommendation.

Earlier we reported on an Inspector General report that is extremely critical of USAID/OFDA and their grantees’ efforts in providing housing to displaced Haitians. The audit, however, also raised a separate issue, based on the fact that “USAID/OFDA’s mandate is to save lives, alleviate suffering, and reduce the economic impact of the recent earthquake in Haiti.”

The audit reported that:

As part of the audit, the audit team visited a camp where USAID/OFDA was funding the construction of 800 shelters. There we met a resident who was dying of breast cancer. The woman’s entire right breast was an open wound, and she was suffering great pain. Concerned for the welfare of this person, the audit team alerted grantee officials that the woman needed immediate medical help. The audit team members asked whether the grantee could use their knowledge of local community resources to seek help. However, the auditors were told that many people were sick in Haiti and that helping one person would lead to others asking for help.

The audit team informed USAID/OFDA of the situation, but was told by a USAID/OFDA official in Haiti that USAID could not do anything and that the issue should be taken up with the grantee.

Eventually “officials agreed to look into the matter further and review access to medical care in the camp.” The woman was hospitalized on January 3 for one night, however on January 6, 2011 the woman died. The audit concludes:

USAID/OFDA funded the construction of the shelters built in a camp to provide protection for a vulnerable portion of Haiti’s earthquake affected population. The grantee was delivering what was required under the terms of its grant—shelters—but the grantee had not anticipated that sheltering a population of vulnerable people would necessitate planning for medical care. There was neither a camp manager nor medical assistance available in the camp, and officials were not prepared to refer ill individuals to one of the numerous medical assistance organizations operating in the area. As a result, shelter beneficiaries were not receiving appropriate medical care. To minimize similar occurrences in other areas where USAID/OFDA is working, we are making the following recommendation:

Recommendation 7. We recommend that USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, in conjunction with its awardees, develop and implement procedures to identify available humanitarian resources so that vulnerable beneficiaries can be referred on a timely basis.

The USAID/OFDA management did not respond to this recommendation.

Yesterday, the UN “independent panel” released their long awaited report (PDF) on the origin of cholera in Haiti. Although the ultimate conclusion of the panel was that “the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances…and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual,” the report is a serious indictment of MINUSTAH, specifically the base in Mirebalais. The report finds that the cholera outbreak began in a tributary near the MINUSTAH base and that the “sanitation conditions at the Mirebalais MINUSTAH camp were not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination of the Meye Tributary System of the Artibonite River.” (Check out the picture of the sewage pit on page 22 of the report).

The report does find that cholera “strains isolated in Haiti and Nepal during 2009 were a perfect match”. The MINUSTAH troops at the base were from Nepal. And the disease was introduced “as a result of human activity.” But, as Colum Lynch asked today:

In the end, the panel echoed the U.N.’s talking points throughout the cholera crisis: that the battle to end the scourge should take priority over determining how it got there. “The source of cholera in Haiti is no longer relevant to controlling the outbreak,” he said. “What are needed at this time are measures to prevent the disease from becoming endemic,” the report concluded.

Surely, no one would quibble with that sentiment. But wasn’t the panel’s primary mission to do just that?

Although MINUSTAH has long maintained that the focus should be on treating the disease rather than finding the source, French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux has argued for the importance of tracking the origin. Among the reasons given are:

if an investigation demonstrates, or even suspects, that problems in detecting asymptomatic carriage, handling sewage or preserving water resources may have resulted in such an epidemic, referred institutions would be compelled to modify their procedures so that such a disaster could never happen again. Thirdly, knowing the origin of the Haitian epidemic is essential for the future. If cholera started from a quiescent reservoir, its elimination will not be achieved in Haiti for many years, if ever. Alternatively, if importation is confirmed, hope of elimination still remains. Fourthly, and most importantly, researching and telling the truth is essential to restore trust between populations and humanitarian staff.

Fortunately, most news articles have looked beyond the conclusion of the report, and accurately noted that while the panel members refused to lay blame on MINUSTAH, the evidence in the report clearly does. Joe Lauria of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

The report plays down as a “hypothesis that soldiers deployed from a cholera-endemic country to the Mirebalais Minustah camp were the source of the cholera” which it said was “a commonly held belief in Haiti.”

But the report then describes in detail how the outbreak occurred because of contamination of the Artibonite River from the peacekeeping camp.

Most importantly, and one of the main reasons for trying to trace the origin, as Piarroux noted, is that the report has led to a series of recommendations that hopefully will prevent something like this from occurring again. The report suggests that UN personnel coming from cholera endemic regions should first be screened for the disease, that UN personnel should be given antibiotics or vaccines before deployment, and that UN bases should “treat fecal waste using on-site systems”.

MINUSTAH Attempts to Avoid Blame

The report also raises serious questions about MINUSTAH’s reaction in the first weeks of the cholera outbreak. On October 26, 2010 MINUSTAH issued a statement to “clarify rumors” about the origin of cholera. The statement said:

 

MINUSTAH is keen to shed light around rumours published by certain media that led to the belief that human refuse thrown into a river in Mirebalais by MINUSTAH would be at the origin of the cholera epidemic in Haiti

The statement continued, touting their sanitation system:

Seven septic tanks, built in a closed circuit, serve the military base and meet the construction standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

And noting that “It is 250 meters from the Meille river, which represents more than 20 times the distance required at the international level.”

The recently released report, however, describes the waste pit, where fecal matter and other waste is deposited:

There is no fence around the site, and children were observed playing and animals roaming in the area around the pit. The southeast branch of Meye Tributary System is located a short walk down the hill from the pit, on the banks of which is located the solid waste disposal site for the MINUSTAH camp. Local residents reported trucks delivering waste to this disposal site and commented that the area is susceptible to flooding and overflow into the Tributary during rainfall.

Just two days later MINUSTAH issued another statement that reiterates the same points again. It also adds that they had undertook tests in the water and they were all negative, and that:

The engineers of Minustah have strongly emphasized that the water overflow near the latrines comes from a water disposal basin connected to a kitchen and a shower – that occasionally overflows after hard rains – and not from the latrines or from the sceptic tanks.  This basin is located 3 meters away from the latrines. Passersby mistakenly believed that the proximity of soaked earth as far as the latrines was caused by the overflow of human waste.

Yet the report notes that:

The construction of the water pipes in the main toilet/showering area is haphazard, with significant potential for cross-contamination through leakage from broken pipes and poor pipe connections, especially from pipes that run over an open drainage ditch that runs throughout the camp and flows directly into the Meye Tributary System.

Other UN agencies were often no better, with OCHA spokesperson Imogen Wall calling the cholera outbreak “appalling luck.” But as was pointed out previously, the sanitation at the MINUSTAH base was “not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination of the Meye Tributary System” and the report was clear that cholera was introduced “as a result of human activity,” and not just “appalling luck.”

Also, rather than responding to the legitimate grievances of those protesting against MINUSTAH, the peacekeeping force blamed the protesters for being “politically motivated” and for sowing chaos before the election.

It is unfortunate that his pattern of deflecting blame and dishonesty about the sanitation at the base continues even after the UN report.

 

Yesterday, the UN “independent panel” released their long awaited report (PDF) on the origin of cholera in Haiti. Although the ultimate conclusion of the panel was that “the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances…and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual,” the report is a serious indictment of MINUSTAH, specifically the base in Mirebalais. The report finds that the cholera outbreak began in a tributary near the MINUSTAH base and that the “sanitation conditions at the Mirebalais MINUSTAH camp were not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination of the Meye Tributary System of the Artibonite River.” (Check out the picture of the sewage pit on page 22 of the report).

The report does find that cholera “strains isolated in Haiti and Nepal during 2009 were a perfect match”. The MINUSTAH troops at the base were from Nepal. And the disease was introduced “as a result of human activity.” But, as Colum Lynch asked today:

In the end, the panel echoed the U.N.’s talking points throughout the cholera crisis: that the battle to end the scourge should take priority over determining how it got there. “The source of cholera in Haiti is no longer relevant to controlling the outbreak,” he said. “What are needed at this time are measures to prevent the disease from becoming endemic,” the report concluded.

Surely, no one would quibble with that sentiment. But wasn’t the panel’s primary mission to do just that?

Although MINUSTAH has long maintained that the focus should be on treating the disease rather than finding the source, French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux has argued for the importance of tracking the origin. Among the reasons given are:

if an investigation demonstrates, or even suspects, that problems in detecting asymptomatic carriage, handling sewage or preserving water resources may have resulted in such an epidemic, referred institutions would be compelled to modify their procedures so that such a disaster could never happen again. Thirdly, knowing the origin of the Haitian epidemic is essential for the future. If cholera started from a quiescent reservoir, its elimination will not be achieved in Haiti for many years, if ever. Alternatively, if importation is confirmed, hope of elimination still remains. Fourthly, and most importantly, researching and telling the truth is essential to restore trust between populations and humanitarian staff.

Fortunately, most news articles have looked beyond the conclusion of the report, and accurately noted that while the panel members refused to lay blame on MINUSTAH, the evidence in the report clearly does. Joe Lauria of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

The report plays down as a “hypothesis that soldiers deployed from a cholera-endemic country to the Mirebalais Minustah camp were the source of the cholera” which it said was “a commonly held belief in Haiti.”

But the report then describes in detail how the outbreak occurred because of contamination of the Artibonite River from the peacekeeping camp.

Most importantly, and one of the main reasons for trying to trace the origin, as Piarroux noted, is that the report has led to a series of recommendations that hopefully will prevent something like this from occurring again. The report suggests that UN personnel coming from cholera endemic regions should first be screened for the disease, that UN personnel should be given antibiotics or vaccines before deployment, and that UN bases should “treat fecal waste using on-site systems”.

MINUSTAH Attempts to Avoid Blame

The report also raises serious questions about MINUSTAH’s reaction in the first weeks of the cholera outbreak. On October 26, 2010 MINUSTAH issued a statement to “clarify rumors” about the origin of cholera. The statement said:

 

MINUSTAH is keen to shed light around rumours published by certain media that led to the belief that human refuse thrown into a river in Mirebalais by MINUSTAH would be at the origin of the cholera epidemic in Haiti

The statement continued, touting their sanitation system:

Seven septic tanks, built in a closed circuit, serve the military base and meet the construction standards of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

And noting that “It is 250 meters from the Meille river, which represents more than 20 times the distance required at the international level.”

The recently released report, however, describes the waste pit, where fecal matter and other waste is deposited:

There is no fence around the site, and children were observed playing and animals roaming in the area around the pit. The southeast branch of Meye Tributary System is located a short walk down the hill from the pit, on the banks of which is located the solid waste disposal site for the MINUSTAH camp. Local residents reported trucks delivering waste to this disposal site and commented that the area is susceptible to flooding and overflow into the Tributary during rainfall.

Just two days later MINUSTAH issued another statement that reiterates the same points again. It also adds that they had undertook tests in the water and they were all negative, and that:

The engineers of Minustah have strongly emphasized that the water overflow near the latrines comes from a water disposal basin connected to a kitchen and a shower – that occasionally overflows after hard rains – and not from the latrines or from the sceptic tanks.  This basin is located 3 meters away from the latrines. Passersby mistakenly believed that the proximity of soaked earth as far as the latrines was caused by the overflow of human waste.

Yet the report notes that:

The construction of the water pipes in the main toilet/showering area is haphazard, with significant potential for cross-contamination through leakage from broken pipes and poor pipe connections, especially from pipes that run over an open drainage ditch that runs throughout the camp and flows directly into the Meye Tributary System.

Other UN agencies were often no better, with OCHA spokesperson Imogen Wall calling the cholera outbreak “appalling luck.” But as was pointed out previously, the sanitation at the MINUSTAH base was “not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination of the Meye Tributary System” and the report was clear that cholera was introduced “as a result of human activity,” and not just “appalling luck.”

Also, rather than responding to the legitimate grievances of those protesting against MINUSTAH, the peacekeeping force blamed the protesters for being “politically motivated” and for sowing chaos before the election.

It is unfortunate that his pattern of deflecting blame and dishonesty about the sanitation at the base continues even after the UN report.

 

The AP’s Trenton Daniel put a spotlight on rising food prices in Haiti over the weekend. Daniel writes:

Soaring food prices aren’t new in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and heavily dependent on imports. Now those prices are rising again, mirroring global trends, while the cost of gasoline has doubled to $5 a gallon. Haitians are paying more for basic staples than much of Latin America and the Caribbean, an Associated Press survey finds.

A number of factors have led to the most recent surge in prices. As we reported in early March:

The FAO warned that, “The low-income food deficit countries are on the front line of the current surge in world prices.” Haiti, which imports nearly 50 percent of its food, according to the WFP, could be especially vulnerable.

International factors have exacerbated the negative effects of the cholera epidemic and last year’s Hurricane Thomas, both of which greatly affected agricultural regions. All of this comes at a particularly bad time for Haiti, where the months of April and May are generally the least food secure months of the year. FEWS Net has warned “The size of the food insecure population will be larger than usual, peaking in April/May.”

Although the soaring prices will be felt in the short term, especially amongst the poor and displaced, the problem of food sovereignty is a long term one. Daniel writes:

Nature and the outside world have all taken their toll. Erosion, deforestation, flooding and tropical storms make farming difficult. American imports are stiff competition for farmers. Haiti imports nearly all of its food, including more than 80 percent of its rice, known here as “Miami Rice.” A whole chicken costs $8 in Haiti – double the price in Peru. Argentines earn much more than Haitians, but pay less for a kilogram of rice.

The rise of garment factories in the cities since the 1970s has denuded the countryside of working hands. Bolivar is among those who moved here. She lives in a small cinderblock home in a slum in the relatively affluent city of Petionville.

“There was nothing for me in the countryside,” she said.

Yet relief efforts continue to fall short in their support for agriculture and decentralization. In 2010, the UN’s appeal for agriculture was just 50 percent funded, compared to overall levels closer to 75 percent and significantly greater support going to food aid. In 2011, the discrepancy is even larger. While only $1 million (2 percent of the appeal) has been given for agriculture, nearly $50 million has been made available for food aid, which predominantly comes in the form of foreign foodstuffs and can have a negative effect on the productivity of local farmers.

There is also some evidence that the agriculture support that has been provided, through the USAID WINNER program, for instance, has been problematic. For starters, the WINNER program is being implemented by Chemonics, one of the largest USAID contractors, and one we have written about extensively before. Also, as Haiti Grassroots Watch has pointed out in their “Seeding Reconstruction?” series, a significant portion of agricultural aid has been in the form of seed distributions, which have turned out to not be necessary and in some cases were even harmful:

In August, 2010, a multi-agency, 115-page report recommended that seed distributions to Haitian farmers halt or be “honed” because “[e]mergency seed aid should be used only to address emergency problems, and those in which seed security is a problem.”

The Seed System Security Assessment/Haiti (SSSA) report, authored principally by researcher Louise Sperling of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), found that Haiti had “deeply chronic” seed problems – mostly the lack of appropriate, quality seeds – but that Haitian farmers did not face a “seed emergency” problem per se.

The international community’s efforts to aid in agriculture have also often overlooked, or even undermined the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture (MARDNR). Emmanuel Prophete, the director of the National Seed Service (SNS), told Haiti Grassroots Watch:

“For the system to be sustainable, it has to be the state budget, the public treasury, that says: ‘Here is money for seeds.’… Only by reinforcing of the state structures will the country to advance,” Prophete said.

Yet:

But the SNS is not the lead in the new FAO seed project, nor was it the lead in the multi-million dollar seed distributions. Indeed, Prophete wasn’t even aware of the spring distributions announced at the February 8 Cluster meeting until Haiti Grassroots Watch handed him the Excel spreadsheet.

And the SNS doesn’t get funding via the Agriculture Cluster projects.

Of the $31,526,150 that went to Agriculture Cluster projects in 2010, the MARDNR received zero, according to UN documents.

Of the $43,087,517 requested for 22 projects for 2011, the MARDNR is listed as the principal recipient on zero of the projects.

Asked about the 2011 Cluster request, Prophete was as pragmatic as he was ecumenical:

“If they get that, it’s good for them. If they don’t get it, it wouldn’t come to Damien [where MARDNA is located], in any case. But if that money can somehow benefit peasants, I am 100 percent in agreement with their request.”

For the full Haiti Grassroots Watch report, click here. Also see the report on Monsanto’s role in the seed distribution, available here. It should also be noted that there were alternative proposals for supporting local agriculture after the earthquake.

 

The AP’s Trenton Daniel put a spotlight on rising food prices in Haiti over the weekend. Daniel writes:

Soaring food prices aren’t new in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and heavily dependent on imports. Now those prices are rising again, mirroring global trends, while the cost of gasoline has doubled to $5 a gallon. Haitians are paying more for basic staples than much of Latin America and the Caribbean, an Associated Press survey finds.

A number of factors have led to the most recent surge in prices. As we reported in early March:

The FAO warned that, “The low-income food deficit countries are on the front line of the current surge in world prices.” Haiti, which imports nearly 50 percent of its food, according to the WFP, could be especially vulnerable.

International factors have exacerbated the negative effects of the cholera epidemic and last year’s Hurricane Thomas, both of which greatly affected agricultural regions. All of this comes at a particularly bad time for Haiti, where the months of April and May are generally the least food secure months of the year. FEWS Net has warned “The size of the food insecure population will be larger than usual, peaking in April/May.”

Although the soaring prices will be felt in the short term, especially amongst the poor and displaced, the problem of food sovereignty is a long term one. Daniel writes:

Nature and the outside world have all taken their toll. Erosion, deforestation, flooding and tropical storms make farming difficult. American imports are stiff competition for farmers. Haiti imports nearly all of its food, including more than 80 percent of its rice, known here as “Miami Rice.” A whole chicken costs $8 in Haiti – double the price in Peru. Argentines earn much more than Haitians, but pay less for a kilogram of rice.

The rise of garment factories in the cities since the 1970s has denuded the countryside of working hands. Bolivar is among those who moved here. She lives in a small cinderblock home in a slum in the relatively affluent city of Petionville.

“There was nothing for me in the countryside,” she said.

Yet relief efforts continue to fall short in their support for agriculture and decentralization. In 2010, the UN’s appeal for agriculture was just 50 percent funded, compared to overall levels closer to 75 percent and significantly greater support going to food aid. In 2011, the discrepancy is even larger. While only $1 million (2 percent of the appeal) has been given for agriculture, nearly $50 million has been made available for food aid, which predominantly comes in the form of foreign foodstuffs and can have a negative effect on the productivity of local farmers.

There is also some evidence that the agriculture support that has been provided, through the USAID WINNER program, for instance, has been problematic. For starters, the WINNER program is being implemented by Chemonics, one of the largest USAID contractors, and one we have written about extensively before. Also, as Haiti Grassroots Watch has pointed out in their “Seeding Reconstruction?” series, a significant portion of agricultural aid has been in the form of seed distributions, which have turned out to not be necessary and in some cases were even harmful:

In August, 2010, a multi-agency, 115-page report recommended that seed distributions to Haitian farmers halt or be “honed” because “[e]mergency seed aid should be used only to address emergency problems, and those in which seed security is a problem.”

The Seed System Security Assessment/Haiti (SSSA) report, authored principally by researcher Louise Sperling of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), found that Haiti had “deeply chronic” seed problems – mostly the lack of appropriate, quality seeds – but that Haitian farmers did not face a “seed emergency” problem per se.

The international community’s efforts to aid in agriculture have also often overlooked, or even undermined the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture (MARDNR). Emmanuel Prophete, the director of the National Seed Service (SNS), told Haiti Grassroots Watch:

“For the system to be sustainable, it has to be the state budget, the public treasury, that says: ‘Here is money for seeds.’… Only by reinforcing of the state structures will the country to advance,” Prophete said.

Yet:

But the SNS is not the lead in the new FAO seed project, nor was it the lead in the multi-million dollar seed distributions. Indeed, Prophete wasn’t even aware of the spring distributions announced at the February 8 Cluster meeting until Haiti Grassroots Watch handed him the Excel spreadsheet.

And the SNS doesn’t get funding via the Agriculture Cluster projects.

Of the $31,526,150 that went to Agriculture Cluster projects in 2010, the MARDNR received zero, according to UN documents.

Of the $43,087,517 requested for 22 projects for 2011, the MARDNR is listed as the principal recipient on zero of the projects.

Asked about the 2011 Cluster request, Prophete was as pragmatic as he was ecumenical:

“If they get that, it’s good for them. If they don’t get it, it wouldn’t come to Damien [where MARDNA is located], in any case. But if that money can somehow benefit peasants, I am 100 percent in agreement with their request.”

For the full Haiti Grassroots Watch report, click here. Also see the report on Monsanto’s role in the seed distribution, available here. It should also be noted that there were alternative proposals for supporting local agriculture after the earthquake.

 

In the wake of last week’s letter by 53 members of the U.S. Congress urging prioritizing the needs of IDP’s, Georgianne Nienaber underscores the urgency of the situation in a new piece for Haiti Live News and other publications. Likening the looming disaster of an expected spike in cholera deaths with the sinking of the Titanic, Nienaber suggests that the current international response is akin to that of the SS Californian, which, although having been less than 10 miles away from the Titanic on April 15, 1912, made no attempt to rescue the doomed voyagers.

Nienaber writes that the number of cholera cases is already growing quickly with the onset of the rainy season:

The country-wide fatality rate is 1.7 percent, but rural Sud Est department stands at a disastrous 7.9 and Grande Anse is not far behind with a 5.4 percent death rate. The Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP) provides statistics that usually lag behind real time, but you can find them on the webpage.

In a better assessment from the ground in Mirebalais, the epicenter of the outbreak, PBS reports that the Partners in Health cholera center saw 500 cases in the three weeks prior to the recent rains. They have seen 1,000 cases in the last two weeks.

While the UN has offered estimates of up to 400,000 total cases by October 2011, a new study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, predicts nearly 800,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths from the cholera outbreak.

While millions of dollars collect interest in the bank accounts of large NGO’s, and while pledges by various foreign governments go unfulfilled, treatment for cholera remains greatly underfunded. Nienaber notes that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the urgent, but still neglected needs earlier this month:

[T]he withdrawal of some humanitarian agencies from cholera treatment centres and camps risks creating a shortage in the provision of services. The Cholera Appeal is 45 per cent funded, and the overall Haiti Appeal received only 10 per cent of the requested funds.

The New York Times noted over the weekend that

Only about 37 percent of the more than $5 billion pledged last year by foreign governments and international agencies has been disbursed to the Haitian government, the Haiti reconstruction fund, nongovernmental organizations or other entities, according to the United Nations.

Nienaber puts these billions into perspective:

It costs $1 million to run a 200 bed Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) for three months. This includes 45 nurses, 80 support staff and 9 doctors. This represents an overwhelming list of needs, considering that many NGOs have left and cholera remains underfunded. It is ironic that some of the same agencies, who have created a comprehensive document on Haiti’s needs, have packed up their tents, banners, and personnel. They say that they will return when the money flows along with increasing disease numbers.

Of course, as we have also described repeatedly, the dangers of underfunding cholera treatment are compounded by the underfunding of sanitation. Nienaber writes:

Obviously, the absence of latrines, desludging activities, and safe drinking water, provides an opportune environment for cholera and other water borne diseases. Incredibly, temporary shelters do not include sanitation. People are defecating into plastic bags, or going on the ground or in streams. Water purification tablets are in short supply, if they can be obtained at all in rural areas. The villagers of Chinchion we visited in February were traveling miles to market to buy bleach for water purification. It works, but where are the promised purification tablets? Some villages were paying for the tablets on the black market.

The most recent OCHA bulletin [PDF] confirms Nienaber’s account. The report notes that the WASH cluster is just 19 percent funded, and:

this lack of funds to support programs will have direct consequences on the health situation of vulnerable populations. In the absence of latrines, desludging activities, and safe drinking water, individuals living in densely populated areas are at heightened risk of cholera and water borne disease contamination, particularly during the rainy and hurricane seasons.

The international neglect of IDP camps – including ongoing failure to stem rape and other violence and crime – has led many IDP’s to leave, sometimes moving into damaged structures. As The New York Times reported over the weekend:

More than half of the Haitians driven into tent cities and makeshift camps by the January 2010 earthquake have moved out of them, officially bringing down the displaced population to 680,000 from a peak of 1.5 million, according to the International Organization for Migration.

But what may seem like a clear sign of progress, officials warn, is also a cause of concern.

Very few of the people who left the camps — only 4.7 percent, by the group’s estimate — did so because their homes had been rebuilt or repaired. Instead, a vast majority appear to have been forced out through mass evictions by landowners, or to have left the camps on their own to escape the high crime and fraying conditions there.

Now, most of the former camp dwellers are doubled up in their friends’ or families’ homes, scattered at random in tents and improvised dwellings, or living in “precarious housing” that is dilapidated, damaged or partly collapsed, the organization says. In some cases, the cinder blocks that were toppled by the quake are being cobbled together to make walls again, only more unevenly and wobbly than before.

In addition, even those families who have moved into a “transitional shelter” are often left without adequate sanitation. The most recent OCHA bulletin notes that 40 percent of the “transitional shelters” lack any WASH services. The international community plans to build over 50,000 more of these shelters this year, but it is predicted that upwards of 60 percent of the additional shelters “will not receive any sanitation and water services either.”

The New York Times reports that the often un-tracked dispersal of camp residents also creates new challenges for containing cholera, highlighting the importance of treatment in the IDP camps:

Giovanni Cassani, a coordinator with the migration organization, said the mass departures from camps made it harder to track and help people, complicating treatment and prevention of a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 5,000 people since October. “Those returning to unsafe conditions risk falling off the radar because they are much more difficult to find and assist,” Mr. Cassani said.

In the wake of last week’s letter by 53 members of the U.S. Congress urging prioritizing the needs of IDP’s, Georgianne Nienaber underscores the urgency of the situation in a new piece for Haiti Live News and other publications. Likening the looming disaster of an expected spike in cholera deaths with the sinking of the Titanic, Nienaber suggests that the current international response is akin to that of the SS Californian, which, although having been less than 10 miles away from the Titanic on April 15, 1912, made no attempt to rescue the doomed voyagers.

Nienaber writes that the number of cholera cases is already growing quickly with the onset of the rainy season:

The country-wide fatality rate is 1.7 percent, but rural Sud Est department stands at a disastrous 7.9 and Grande Anse is not far behind with a 5.4 percent death rate. The Ministere de la Sante Publique et de la Population (MSPP) provides statistics that usually lag behind real time, but you can find them on the webpage.

In a better assessment from the ground in Mirebalais, the epicenter of the outbreak, PBS reports that the Partners in Health cholera center saw 500 cases in the three weeks prior to the recent rains. They have seen 1,000 cases in the last two weeks.

While the UN has offered estimates of up to 400,000 total cases by October 2011, a new study in the British medical journal, The Lancet, predicts nearly 800,000 cases and over 11,000 deaths from the cholera outbreak.

While millions of dollars collect interest in the bank accounts of large NGO’s, and while pledges by various foreign governments go unfulfilled, treatment for cholera remains greatly underfunded. Nienaber notes that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke about the urgent, but still neglected needs earlier this month:

[T]he withdrawal of some humanitarian agencies from cholera treatment centres and camps risks creating a shortage in the provision of services. The Cholera Appeal is 45 per cent funded, and the overall Haiti Appeal received only 10 per cent of the requested funds.

The New York Times noted over the weekend that

Only about 37 percent of the more than $5 billion pledged last year by foreign governments and international agencies has been disbursed to the Haitian government, the Haiti reconstruction fund, nongovernmental organizations or other entities, according to the United Nations.

Nienaber puts these billions into perspective:

It costs $1 million to run a 200 bed Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) for three months. This includes 45 nurses, 80 support staff and 9 doctors. This represents an overwhelming list of needs, considering that many NGOs have left and cholera remains underfunded. It is ironic that some of the same agencies, who have created a comprehensive document on Haiti’s needs, have packed up their tents, banners, and personnel. They say that they will return when the money flows along with increasing disease numbers.

Of course, as we have also described repeatedly, the dangers of underfunding cholera treatment are compounded by the underfunding of sanitation. Nienaber writes:

Obviously, the absence of latrines, desludging activities, and safe drinking water, provides an opportune environment for cholera and other water borne diseases. Incredibly, temporary shelters do not include sanitation. People are defecating into plastic bags, or going on the ground or in streams. Water purification tablets are in short supply, if they can be obtained at all in rural areas. The villagers of Chinchion we visited in February were traveling miles to market to buy bleach for water purification. It works, but where are the promised purification tablets? Some villages were paying for the tablets on the black market.

The most recent OCHA bulletin [PDF] confirms Nienaber’s account. The report notes that the WASH cluster is just 19 percent funded, and:

this lack of funds to support programs will have direct consequences on the health situation of vulnerable populations. In the absence of latrines, desludging activities, and safe drinking water, individuals living in densely populated areas are at heightened risk of cholera and water borne disease contamination, particularly during the rainy and hurricane seasons.

The international neglect of IDP camps – including ongoing failure to stem rape and other violence and crime – has led many IDP’s to leave, sometimes moving into damaged structures. As The New York Times reported over the weekend:

More than half of the Haitians driven into tent cities and makeshift camps by the January 2010 earthquake have moved out of them, officially bringing down the displaced population to 680,000 from a peak of 1.5 million, according to the International Organization for Migration.

But what may seem like a clear sign of progress, officials warn, is also a cause of concern.

Very few of the people who left the camps — only 4.7 percent, by the group’s estimate — did so because their homes had been rebuilt or repaired. Instead, a vast majority appear to have been forced out through mass evictions by landowners, or to have left the camps on their own to escape the high crime and fraying conditions there.

Now, most of the former camp dwellers are doubled up in their friends’ or families’ homes, scattered at random in tents and improvised dwellings, or living in “precarious housing” that is dilapidated, damaged or partly collapsed, the organization says. In some cases, the cinder blocks that were toppled by the quake are being cobbled together to make walls again, only more unevenly and wobbly than before.

In addition, even those families who have moved into a “transitional shelter” are often left without adequate sanitation. The most recent OCHA bulletin notes that 40 percent of the “transitional shelters” lack any WASH services. The international community plans to build over 50,000 more of these shelters this year, but it is predicted that upwards of 60 percent of the additional shelters “will not receive any sanitation and water services either.”

The New York Times reports that the often un-tracked dispersal of camp residents also creates new challenges for containing cholera, highlighting the importance of treatment in the IDP camps:

Giovanni Cassani, a coordinator with the migration organization, said the mass departures from camps made it harder to track and help people, complicating treatment and prevention of a cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 5,000 people since October. “Those returning to unsafe conditions risk falling off the radar because they are much more difficult to find and assist,” Mr. Cassani said.

CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in The Guardian today:

Corruption takes many forms, and if the United States seems like it has less of it than many developing countries, this is partly because we have legalized so much of it. Election campaign contributions are only the most costly and debilitating form, a legalized bribery that, for example, gives the pharmaceutical and insurance companies a veto over health care policy and generally hollows out our limited form of democracy.

This legalization of corruption reached a new milestone last December when one Lewis Lucke, a long-time U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) official turned influence peddler, sued a consortium of firms operating in Haiti for $492,000, for breach of contract. As Lucke would have it (sorry!), he was promised $30,000 a month, plus incentives, to use his influence to secure contracts for these nice fellas. He got them $20 million dollars worth of contracts, but they cut him off after two months. The defendants in the case are Ashbritt, a U.S. contractor with a questionable track record, and the GB Group, one of the largest Haitian conglomerates. Together they formed the Haiti Recovery Group, which they incorporated in the Cayman Islands, to bid on reconstruction contracts.

Lucke was well positioned for the job, having formerly been in charge of the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort in Haiti for the U.S. government. (He was also previously the USAID Iraq Mission Director – we know how that reconstruction turned out.) His lawsuit states that when he worked for USAID “He met with Haitian officials, former United States Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the State Department, World Bank, and other participants . . .”. He was then hired by Ashbritt to, among other things, make “strategic introductions to key stakeholders, organizers, and brokers of Haitian recovery efforts…” Bill Clinton and George W. Bush established the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to help Haiti “build back better,” and Clinton is co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which has met about six times since the earthquake, and has been widely criticized for its lack of Haitian representation in decision-making.

And then there’s the World Bank, which has spent many years complaining about corruption in developing countries, often using it as a convenient excuse for its decades of failed policies. Lucke scored big with the Bank, landing a $10 million contract for his clients. (The ingrates!) The other $10 million contract was with the Haitian government.

Politicians here are quick to blame the Haitians for the lack of progress since the earthquake, and corruption is often assumed to be exclusively a Haitian problem. But it is clear that some of it comes from outside. Maybe a lot.

Read the rest here.

CEPR Co-Director Mark Weisbrot writes in The Guardian today:

Corruption takes many forms, and if the United States seems like it has less of it than many developing countries, this is partly because we have legalized so much of it. Election campaign contributions are only the most costly and debilitating form, a legalized bribery that, for example, gives the pharmaceutical and insurance companies a veto over health care policy and generally hollows out our limited form of democracy.

This legalization of corruption reached a new milestone last December when one Lewis Lucke, a long-time U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) official turned influence peddler, sued a consortium of firms operating in Haiti for $492,000, for breach of contract. As Lucke would have it (sorry!), he was promised $30,000 a month, plus incentives, to use his influence to secure contracts for these nice fellas. He got them $20 million dollars worth of contracts, but they cut him off after two months. The defendants in the case are Ashbritt, a U.S. contractor with a questionable track record, and the GB Group, one of the largest Haitian conglomerates. Together they formed the Haiti Recovery Group, which they incorporated in the Cayman Islands, to bid on reconstruction contracts.

Lucke was well positioned for the job, having formerly been in charge of the multi-billion dollar reconstruction effort in Haiti for the U.S. government. (He was also previously the USAID Iraq Mission Director – we know how that reconstruction turned out.) His lawsuit states that when he worked for USAID “He met with Haitian officials, former United States Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the State Department, World Bank, and other participants . . .”. He was then hired by Ashbritt to, among other things, make “strategic introductions to key stakeholders, organizers, and brokers of Haitian recovery efforts…” Bill Clinton and George W. Bush established the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to help Haiti “build back better,” and Clinton is co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which has met about six times since the earthquake, and has been widely criticized for its lack of Haitian representation in decision-making.

And then there’s the World Bank, which has spent many years complaining about corruption in developing countries, often using it as a convenient excuse for its decades of failed policies. Lucke scored big with the Bank, landing a $10 million contract for his clients. (The ingrates!) The other $10 million contract was with the Haitian government.

Politicians here are quick to blame the Haitians for the lack of progress since the earthquake, and corruption is often assumed to be exclusively a Haitian problem. But it is clear that some of it comes from outside. Maybe a lot.

Read the rest here.

Late Wednesday night the CEP announced the final results of the second round of Haiti’s elections, formalizing Michel Martelly’s ascension from kompa musician to the presidency. Yet although it was largely ignored yesterday, the story that is now receiving the most attention from the media, as a result of statements of “concern” from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and the UN, has to do with the long-ignored legislative elections. In a controversial move, the CEP switched the winners of 17 out of 77 seats that were in the running in the Chamber of Deputies were changed from the preliminary results. 15 of these went from an opposition party to INITE, the governing party, while INITE lost the other two seats. Many of the changes appear far-fetched, as shown below. The net result was that INITE increased their plurality in the Chamber of Deputies, going from 33 to 46 of the 99 seats. Three of the 99 seats are still in play, with another round in May. The international community was quick to react, with the OAS issuing a strongly worded statement last night questioning the CEP:

the Joint Mission can only question whether the eighteen changes in position announced during the proclamation of the final results in fact express the will of the voters in those constituencies.

Anonymous diplomats, speaking with AFP, were even clearer in laying the blame on President Preval:

Matching diplomatic sources have told AFP that the Inité party of outgoing President René Préval have exerted significant pressure to modify the Haitian legislative elections in its favor and increase its representation in Parliament.

“It’s clear as day, a great deal of pressure” was put on the CEP which unveiled, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the results of the presidential and legislative elections, according to a European source.

However this should come as little surprise to the foreign entities that have been most involved in the electoral process, namely the U.S., the European Union and Canada. In an effort to gain legitimacy for the presidential elections, these powers have largely ignored or papered over the serious flaws that had been present since the beginning of the electoral process. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (funded by USAID), in a report over a year ago on organizing elections in Haiti, wrote that, “Giving the mandate of organizing the upcoming elections to the current CEP would mean that the electoral process would be considered flawed and questionable from the start.” While the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti warned that, “The CEP’s close relationship with President Rene Préval has raised doubts about its ability to be politically neutral.” Rather than addressing these problems, the three aforementioned international entities funded the elections to the tune of $30 million and then pressured Haiti to accept the results despite an unprecedented low turnout, a high level of fraud and other irregularities and a politically motivated electoral council.

Changes Appear Far-Fetched

Although the CEP has not explained its rationale for changing the results, and it remains possible that the changes were justified, some of the cases seem incredibly far-fetched. The most egregious case was in Mole Saint Nicholas where an 18.77 percentage point (1,057 votes) preliminary lead for the ALTENATIV candidate turned into a win for INITE. In l’Estere in the Artibonite department only 16 of 44 tally sheets were counted in the preliminary results and the candidate from Ansanm Nou Fo had a 10 percentage point lead (227 votes). Yet when the CEP announced the final results, the race went to the INITE candidate. In Petit Riviere de l’Artibonite the RASAMBLE candidate had a 12.3 percentage point (953 votes) lead after the preliminary results, only to have INITE announced the winner on Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti said in a statement today, “we have found no explanation for the reversals of 18 legislative races in the final results, which in all except two cases benefited the incumbent party.” The Embassy released a document, which shows that from preliminary results to the final results the CEP counted thousands more votes. Many tally sheets that had been excluded for irregularities appear to have ended up being counted. On average the winning candidates received 1,000 more votes than they had been credited with in the preliminary results.

In Petite Riviere de Nippes, preliminary results gave the INITE candidate 3,694 votes and a second place finish. Only 3 of the 61 tally sheets were discarded due to irregularities. Yet when the final results were announced, the INITE candidate was credited with 4,683 votes. If the CEP counted the three tally sheets that originally were excluded, the INITE candidate would have to get about 330 votes per tally sheet to increase their total that much. That would compare to an average of just 64 votes per tally sheet on the other 58 sheets.

INITE Gets Closer to Absolute Majority

The reversals by the CEP drastically change the make-up of the chamber of deputies, as can be seen in the table below. Three races will be decided in run-off elections in May. In the table the leading candidate in those three races was credited with the seat. The parties that are affected are those with asterisks. The biggest losers were the Altenativ party (6 seats) and Ansanm Nou Fo (5 seats).

Party Preliminary Results Final Results
INITE 33 46
ALTENATIV* 14 8
ANSANM NOU FO* 10 5
A.A.A 8 8
LAVNI 7 8
RASAMBLE 4 3
KONBIT 3 3
MOCHREHNHA 3 2
PLAT. LIBERATION 3 3
PONT 3 2
REPONS PEYIZAN 3 3
ENDEPANDAN 2 2
MAS 2 1
MODELH-PRDH* 1 1
PLAPH 1 1
RESPE 1 1
VEYE YO 1 1
SOLIDARITE 0 1
TOTAL 99 99

The predictable result from all of this has been outbreaks of violence and demonstrations across the country. At least one person has died. This is sadly predictable not just because of the CEP’s decision on Wednesday and the apparent fraud, but because election related protests have been ongoing for months. A review of MINUSTAH security documents from April 10-14 shows that in less than one week there were at least 16 election-related demonstrations taking place across the country in all but two departments.

Martelly Calls for Investigation

President-elect Martelly issued a statement last night calling for “independent verification that the people’s vote was respected.” Martelly had originally called for the first round election’s annulment because of the suspected fraud perpetrated by the CEP and before the second round conditioned his particpation on reform of the CEP. He later ended up backing down on both of those calls. Martelly could make a positive first step as president by working to establish a Permanent Electoral Council, as opposed to the Provisional Electoral Council, as called for in the Haitian constitution.

As the Institute for Justice and Democracy has written, “Under the 1987 Constitution, elections are to be administered by a Permanent Electoral Council, which is to be chosen through the “ASEC system.” The ASEC system is a large pyramid structure, designed to decentralize democracy by ensuring that those in power are involved in politics at the very local level, where it is hard for centralized money to penetrate.” Yet, “Unfortunately, the decentralized ASEC system has never been implemented in the Constitution’s 23 years. Instead, a provisional electoral council has run every election held during that period.”

Update 4/26: The CEP announced yesterday that they would delay the confirmation of winners in the 19 controversial legislative races. The OAS is now conducting an analysis of the races in question. For more information see this AP report.

Late Wednesday night the CEP announced the final results of the second round of Haiti’s elections, formalizing Michel Martelly’s ascension from kompa musician to the presidency. Yet although it was largely ignored yesterday, the story that is now receiving the most attention from the media, as a result of statements of “concern” from the U.S. Embassy in Haiti and the UN, has to do with the long-ignored legislative elections. In a controversial move, the CEP switched the winners of 17 out of 77 seats that were in the running in the Chamber of Deputies were changed from the preliminary results. 15 of these went from an opposition party to INITE, the governing party, while INITE lost the other two seats. Many of the changes appear far-fetched, as shown below. The net result was that INITE increased their plurality in the Chamber of Deputies, going from 33 to 46 of the 99 seats. Three of the 99 seats are still in play, with another round in May. The international community was quick to react, with the OAS issuing a strongly worded statement last night questioning the CEP:

the Joint Mission can only question whether the eighteen changes in position announced during the proclamation of the final results in fact express the will of the voters in those constituencies.

Anonymous diplomats, speaking with AFP, were even clearer in laying the blame on President Preval:

Matching diplomatic sources have told AFP that the Inité party of outgoing President René Préval have exerted significant pressure to modify the Haitian legislative elections in its favor and increase its representation in Parliament.

“It’s clear as day, a great deal of pressure” was put on the CEP which unveiled, on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, the results of the presidential and legislative elections, according to a European source.

However this should come as little surprise to the foreign entities that have been most involved in the electoral process, namely the U.S., the European Union and Canada. In an effort to gain legitimacy for the presidential elections, these powers have largely ignored or papered over the serious flaws that had been present since the beginning of the electoral process. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (funded by USAID), in a report over a year ago on organizing elections in Haiti, wrote that, “Giving the mandate of organizing the upcoming elections to the current CEP would mean that the electoral process would be considered flawed and questionable from the start.” While the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti warned that, “The CEP’s close relationship with President Rene Préval has raised doubts about its ability to be politically neutral.” Rather than addressing these problems, the three aforementioned international entities funded the elections to the tune of $30 million and then pressured Haiti to accept the results despite an unprecedented low turnout, a high level of fraud and other irregularities and a politically motivated electoral council.

Changes Appear Far-Fetched

Although the CEP has not explained its rationale for changing the results, and it remains possible that the changes were justified, some of the cases seem incredibly far-fetched. The most egregious case was in Mole Saint Nicholas where an 18.77 percentage point (1,057 votes) preliminary lead for the ALTENATIV candidate turned into a win for INITE. In l’Estere in the Artibonite department only 16 of 44 tally sheets were counted in the preliminary results and the candidate from Ansanm Nou Fo had a 10 percentage point lead (227 votes). Yet when the CEP announced the final results, the race went to the INITE candidate. In Petit Riviere de l’Artibonite the RASAMBLE candidate had a 12.3 percentage point (953 votes) lead after the preliminary results, only to have INITE announced the winner on Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti said in a statement today, “we have found no explanation for the reversals of 18 legislative races in the final results, which in all except two cases benefited the incumbent party.” The Embassy released a document, which shows that from preliminary results to the final results the CEP counted thousands more votes. Many tally sheets that had been excluded for irregularities appear to have ended up being counted. On average the winning candidates received 1,000 more votes than they had been credited with in the preliminary results.

In Petite Riviere de Nippes, preliminary results gave the INITE candidate 3,694 votes and a second place finish. Only 3 of the 61 tally sheets were discarded due to irregularities. Yet when the final results were announced, the INITE candidate was credited with 4,683 votes. If the CEP counted the three tally sheets that originally were excluded, the INITE candidate would have to get about 330 votes per tally sheet to increase their total that much. That would compare to an average of just 64 votes per tally sheet on the other 58 sheets.

INITE Gets Closer to Absolute Majority

The reversals by the CEP drastically change the make-up of the chamber of deputies, as can be seen in the table below. Three races will be decided in run-off elections in May. In the table the leading candidate in those three races was credited with the seat. The parties that are affected are those with asterisks. The biggest losers were the Altenativ party (6 seats) and Ansanm Nou Fo (5 seats).

Party Preliminary Results Final Results
INITE 33 46
ALTENATIV* 14 8
ANSANM NOU FO* 10 5
A.A.A 8 8
LAVNI 7 8
RASAMBLE 4 3
KONBIT 3 3
MOCHREHNHA 3 2
PLAT. LIBERATION 3 3
PONT 3 2
REPONS PEYIZAN 3 3
ENDEPANDAN 2 2
MAS 2 1
MODELH-PRDH* 1 1
PLAPH 1 1
RESPE 1 1
VEYE YO 1 1
SOLIDARITE 0 1
TOTAL 99 99

The predictable result from all of this has been outbreaks of violence and demonstrations across the country. At least one person has died. This is sadly predictable not just because of the CEP’s decision on Wednesday and the apparent fraud, but because election related protests have been ongoing for months. A review of MINUSTAH security documents from April 10-14 shows that in less than one week there were at least 16 election-related demonstrations taking place across the country in all but two departments.

Martelly Calls for Investigation

President-elect Martelly issued a statement last night calling for “independent verification that the people’s vote was respected.” Martelly had originally called for the first round election’s annulment because of the suspected fraud perpetrated by the CEP and before the second round conditioned his particpation on reform of the CEP. He later ended up backing down on both of those calls. Martelly could make a positive first step as president by working to establish a Permanent Electoral Council, as opposed to the Provisional Electoral Council, as called for in the Haitian constitution.

As the Institute for Justice and Democracy has written, “Under the 1987 Constitution, elections are to be administered by a Permanent Electoral Council, which is to be chosen through the “ASEC system.” The ASEC system is a large pyramid structure, designed to decentralize democracy by ensuring that those in power are involved in politics at the very local level, where it is hard for centralized money to penetrate.” Yet, “Unfortunately, the decentralized ASEC system has never been implemented in the Constitution’s 23 years. Instead, a provisional electoral council has run every election held during that period.”

Update 4/26: The CEP announced yesterday that they would delay the confirmation of winners in the 19 controversial legislative races. The OAS is now conducting an analysis of the races in question. For more information see this AP report.

Today, fifty-three Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscoring the gross inadequacy of relief efforts of USAID,  International Organization of Migration (IOM) and other aid organizations in Haiti’s camps for the internally displaced (IDPs).

Co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY), Donald Payne (NJ) and Frederica Wilson (FL), the letter urges the administration to focus its attention on the deteriorating situation in the camps, in particular the lack of water, sanitation and other basic services; the increase in gender-based violence; and the frequent occurrence of forced evictions of camp residents.

The letter comes in the wake of the latest Humanitarian Bulletin published by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which provides an alarming overview of the IDP situation.  According to the report, only 19% of the US$175 million funding requirement for basic water and sanitation needs of “transitional shelter and spontaneous camp residents” have been met by donors.  This situation, the bulletin states, will have “direct consequences on the health situation of vulnerable populations” and puts individuals in densely populated urban areas at “heightened risk of cholera and water-borne disease contamination,” particularly with the imminent onset of Haiti’s rainy season.

The congressional letter also notes the “strong chance” of a new “spike in cholera” if nothing is done to improve IDP camp conditions quickly.  It recommends that greater “accountability and transparency be brought to the task of IDP assistance”, in particular with regard to the efforts of USAID and IOM.  It also calls on the Obama Administration to require contracting NGOs to provide complete coverage of IDP camps (presently a majority of camps are not covered) and to consult and coordinate directly with IDP communities.

Signers include a number of House leaders: James Clyburn (SC), Assistant Minority Leader of the House; Jan Schakowsky (IL), Democratic Deputy Whip; Elijah Cummings (MD), ranking member on the Oversight Committee; John Conyers (MI), ranking member on the Judiciary Committee; Bennie Thompson (MS), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security; Eliot Engel (NY), ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Emanuel Cleaver (MO), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Keith Ellison (MN), co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus.

To see the full text of the letter click here (PDF).

Today, fifty-three Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton underscoring the gross inadequacy of relief efforts of USAID,  International Organization of Migration (IOM) and other aid organizations in Haiti’s camps for the internally displaced (IDPs).

Co-sponsored by Representatives Yvette Clarke (NY), Donald Payne (NJ) and Frederica Wilson (FL), the letter urges the administration to focus its attention on the deteriorating situation in the camps, in particular the lack of water, sanitation and other basic services; the increase in gender-based violence; and the frequent occurrence of forced evictions of camp residents.

The letter comes in the wake of the latest Humanitarian Bulletin published by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which provides an alarming overview of the IDP situation.  According to the report, only 19% of the US$175 million funding requirement for basic water and sanitation needs of “transitional shelter and spontaneous camp residents” have been met by donors.  This situation, the bulletin states, will have “direct consequences on the health situation of vulnerable populations” and puts individuals in densely populated urban areas at “heightened risk of cholera and water-borne disease contamination,” particularly with the imminent onset of Haiti’s rainy season.

The congressional letter also notes the “strong chance” of a new “spike in cholera” if nothing is done to improve IDP camp conditions quickly.  It recommends that greater “accountability and transparency be brought to the task of IDP assistance”, in particular with regard to the efforts of USAID and IOM.  It also calls on the Obama Administration to require contracting NGOs to provide complete coverage of IDP camps (presently a majority of camps are not covered) and to consult and coordinate directly with IDP communities.

Signers include a number of House leaders: James Clyburn (SC), Assistant Minority Leader of the House; Jan Schakowsky (IL), Democratic Deputy Whip; Elijah Cummings (MD), ranking member on the Oversight Committee; John Conyers (MI), ranking member on the Judiciary Committee; Bennie Thompson (MS), ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security; Eliot Engel (NY), ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Emanuel Cleaver (MO), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Raul Grijalva (AZ) and Keith Ellison (MN), co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus.

To see the full text of the letter click here (PDF).

In December 2010, the AP conducted an analysis of Haitian earthquake contracts given out by the US government, finding that only $1.60 out of every $100 went to Haitian companies. In the story, USAID responded:

US AID says it is committed to increasing the amount of contracts going to Haitians.

“We already are engaging with Haitian communities to make them aware of how they can partner with us,” said Janice Laurente, a spokeperson for US AID.

Yet a new analysis from Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch shows that since December 2010, not a single contract has been awarded to a Haitian firm, according to the Federal Procurement Data System  (FPDS).  As of April 14, 2011, 1490 contracts had been awarded, since the January 2010 earthquake, for a total of $194,458,912. Of those 1490 contracts, only 23 have gone to Haitian companies, totaling just $4,841,426, or roughly 2.5 percent of the total.

Table 1 shows the breakdown of contracts going to Haitian firms organized by the date the contract was signed. As can be seen, after originally being neglected, Haitian firms fared better from February 2010 through November 2010, receiving 5 percent of the value of all contracts. Since December 2010, however, not a single Haitian company has received a contract despite nearly $20 million being awarded in the last five months. The last contract awarded to a Haitian firm was actually signed on November 9, 2010, according to FPDS records.

haiti_contracts_image

Although one possible explanation for the lack of participation by Haitian firms early on was the use of no-bid contracts, this does not account for the lack of Haitian participation. The share of no-bid contracts has actually increased in each time period, from 15.5 percent of all contracts in January 2010, to 16.4 percent from February – November, to an astounding 42.5 percent of all contracts in the previous five months. If no-bid contracts were used predominantly because of urgency, one would expect to see the share of no-bid contracts decreasing over time instead of increasing.

While Haitian firms have largely been left on the sidelines, Beltway contractors (from DC, Maryland and Virginia) have received 39.4 percent of the nearly $200 million in contracts, as can be seen in Table II. Two of the largest Beltway contractors, DAI and Chemonics, we have written about numerous times before.

haiti_contracts_table2

Despite the statement from USAID atop this post, they have actually been one of the worst US government agencies in terms of contracting to local businesses. USAID has awarded contracts totaling $33.5 million yet not a single contract has been awarded to a Haitian company. In addition, an astounding 92 percent of contracts awarded by USAID have gone to Beltway contractors.

Which Haitian Firms Are Getting Contracts?

Even this, however, overstates the benefits that have gone to Haitian firms. The 23 contracts that have gone to Haitian firms have gone to just six different companies, many large corporations with ties to the international community. Table III shows the six Haitian companies that have received contracts, and what the values of those contracts are.

haiti_contracts_table3

Sanco Enterprises received nine contracts between February 2010 and October 2010 for “life services”, predominantly waste removal, water delivery and supplying porta-potties. Sanco, however, has not received a contract since October when the cholera epidemic began to spread throughout Haiti. A leading theory as to the cause of the cholera outbreak was improper waste removal at a Nepalese UN Peacekeeping base. The company that had the UN contract for waste removal at the base was Sanco Enterprises.

Terminal Varreux is the main port near the capital and is owned and operated by the WIN group, which is one of the largest conglomerates in Haiti and is run by the Mevs family. Tracy Wilkinson, writing for the Los Angeles Times shortly after the earthquake, described one of the partners at the WIN group, Gregory Mevs:

He has the prime minister’s ear. He hobnobs with people like Bill Clinton, George Soros and the chief executives of the world’s largest corporations. He is one of Haiti’s storied elite, a member of one of the six families that control the Haitian economy and have essentially called the shots here for generations.

Distributeurs Nationaux, a fuel distribution company, is part of another one of the largest Haitian conglomerates, the GB group run by Gilbert Bigio. In 2009, Distributeurs Nationaux, with the help of an $18 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, acquired the assets and operations of Chevron Haiti. The GB group, together with Ashbritt (an American contractor we have written about previously) formed the Haiti Recovery Group (HRG). HRG was recently the subject of a lawsuit by the former USAID reconstruction coordinator Lewis Lucke. Lucke contends that he is owed $500,000 for helping HRG secure reconstruction contracts.

GDG Beton & Construction S.A. is the largest cement company in Haiti and the current tourism minister, Patrick Delatour, is a 5 percent owner. USA Today reported in March 2010:

Haiti’s top reconstruction planning official owns part of the country’s largest concrete company, which stands to reap major gains from the coming wave of international rebuilding aid.

Patrick Delatour, Haiti’s tourism minister, leads a commission that has been crafting plans to rebuild Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-devastated areas. He acknowledged he is 5% owner of GDG Concrete and Construction, which he started in 2000 with his cousin. The company, which calls itself Haiti’s only supplier of ready-mixed concrete, helped construct the U.S. Embassy and several other major buildings in Port-au-Prince, it says on its website.

Sol Haiti is another fuel distribution company, with operations throughout the Caribbean. Sol took over Shell’s assets in much of the Caribbean in 2005 and took over Exxon-Mobil’s assets when the former divested from Guyana, Suriname and Haiti in 2007.

In December 2010, the AP conducted an analysis of Haitian earthquake contracts given out by the US government, finding that only $1.60 out of every $100 went to Haitian companies. In the story, USAID responded:

US AID says it is committed to increasing the amount of contracts going to Haitians.

“We already are engaging with Haitian communities to make them aware of how they can partner with us,” said Janice Laurente, a spokeperson for US AID.

Yet a new analysis from Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch shows that since December 2010, not a single contract has been awarded to a Haitian firm, according to the Federal Procurement Data System  (FPDS).  As of April 14, 2011, 1490 contracts had been awarded, since the January 2010 earthquake, for a total of $194,458,912. Of those 1490 contracts, only 23 have gone to Haitian companies, totaling just $4,841,426, or roughly 2.5 percent of the total.

Table 1 shows the breakdown of contracts going to Haitian firms organized by the date the contract was signed. As can be seen, after originally being neglected, Haitian firms fared better from February 2010 through November 2010, receiving 5 percent of the value of all contracts. Since December 2010, however, not a single Haitian company has received a contract despite nearly $20 million being awarded in the last five months. The last contract awarded to a Haitian firm was actually signed on November 9, 2010, according to FPDS records.

haiti_contracts_image

Although one possible explanation for the lack of participation by Haitian firms early on was the use of no-bid contracts, this does not account for the lack of Haitian participation. The share of no-bid contracts has actually increased in each time period, from 15.5 percent of all contracts in January 2010, to 16.4 percent from February – November, to an astounding 42.5 percent of all contracts in the previous five months. If no-bid contracts were used predominantly because of urgency, one would expect to see the share of no-bid contracts decreasing over time instead of increasing.

While Haitian firms have largely been left on the sidelines, Beltway contractors (from DC, Maryland and Virginia) have received 39.4 percent of the nearly $200 million in contracts, as can be seen in Table II. Two of the largest Beltway contractors, DAI and Chemonics, we have written about numerous times before.

haiti_contracts_table2

Despite the statement from USAID atop this post, they have actually been one of the worst US government agencies in terms of contracting to local businesses. USAID has awarded contracts totaling $33.5 million yet not a single contract has been awarded to a Haitian company. In addition, an astounding 92 percent of contracts awarded by USAID have gone to Beltway contractors.

Which Haitian Firms Are Getting Contracts?

Even this, however, overstates the benefits that have gone to Haitian firms. The 23 contracts that have gone to Haitian firms have gone to just six different companies, many large corporations with ties to the international community. Table III shows the six Haitian companies that have received contracts, and what the values of those contracts are.

haiti_contracts_table3

Sanco Enterprises received nine contracts between February 2010 and October 2010 for “life services”, predominantly waste removal, water delivery and supplying porta-potties. Sanco, however, has not received a contract since October when the cholera epidemic began to spread throughout Haiti. A leading theory as to the cause of the cholera outbreak was improper waste removal at a Nepalese UN Peacekeeping base. The company that had the UN contract for waste removal at the base was Sanco Enterprises.

Terminal Varreux is the main port near the capital and is owned and operated by the WIN group, which is one of the largest conglomerates in Haiti and is run by the Mevs family. Tracy Wilkinson, writing for the Los Angeles Times shortly after the earthquake, described one of the partners at the WIN group, Gregory Mevs:

He has the prime minister’s ear. He hobnobs with people like Bill Clinton, George Soros and the chief executives of the world’s largest corporations. He is one of Haiti’s storied elite, a member of one of the six families that control the Haitian economy and have essentially called the shots here for generations.

Distributeurs Nationaux, a fuel distribution company, is part of another one of the largest Haitian conglomerates, the GB group run by Gilbert Bigio. In 2009, Distributeurs Nationaux, with the help of an $18 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, acquired the assets and operations of Chevron Haiti. The GB group, together with Ashbritt (an American contractor we have written about previously) formed the Haiti Recovery Group (HRG). HRG was recently the subject of a lawsuit by the former USAID reconstruction coordinator Lewis Lucke. Lucke contends that he is owed $500,000 for helping HRG secure reconstruction contracts.

GDG Beton & Construction S.A. is the largest cement company in Haiti and the current tourism minister, Patrick Delatour, is a 5 percent owner. USA Today reported in March 2010:

Haiti’s top reconstruction planning official owns part of the country’s largest concrete company, which stands to reap major gains from the coming wave of international rebuilding aid.

Patrick Delatour, Haiti’s tourism minister, leads a commission that has been crafting plans to rebuild Port-au-Prince and other earthquake-devastated areas. He acknowledged he is 5% owner of GDG Concrete and Construction, which he started in 2000 with his cousin. The company, which calls itself Haiti’s only supplier of ready-mixed concrete, helped construct the U.S. Embassy and several other major buildings in Port-au-Prince, it says on its website.

Sol Haiti is another fuel distribution company, with operations throughout the Caribbean. Sol took over Shell’s assets in much of the Caribbean in 2005 and took over Exxon-Mobil’s assets when the former divested from Guyana, Suriname and Haiti in 2007.

Dear Friend of CEPR,

Several times per year, we at the Center for Economic and Policy Research ask our friends and supporters to consider making a donation to sustain our work. This spring, we are asking for support for a crucial part of CEPR’s international work, our Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog.

CEPR created the Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog in the first few weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, with a focus on ensuring that the most urgent needs of the Haitian people are being met. Through direct traffic as well as a partnership with Wired magazine, Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch has been able to reach thousands of people, including policymakers, journalists and aid workers on the ground in Haiti. From the very first post (there are now over 275 posts), the blog has focused extensively on the issue of adequate shelter and sanitation.

The blog has also had a definitive influence on the coverage of Haiti’s elections. CEPR has been a consistent voice in covering the elections, including the ongoing debate over the election results and the return of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It has also become a significant source of information and analysis for many journalists covering Haiti.

But don’t just take our word for it…here’s what The Nation had to say:

Quote from The Notion, The Nation magazine’s blog:

”Praise to the Center for Economic and Policy Research for being the only Washington think tank to pay consistent, skeptical attention to Haiti. As usual, they have been doing invaluable work on the issue, including a statistical analysis of the stolen vote”.

We are asking you to help us to continue to provide some of the most thorough coverage on Haiti to be found. CEPR’s independence requires that we not accept funding from government agencies, corporations or unions. We rely on private foundations and individuals like you to fund our work, from our reports to our data bytes to our blogs.

Please contribute today and help CEPR to continue to speak out on the issues that are important to you. We can’t do it without you!

Thanks,

Mark, Dean and the staff of CEPR

 

Dear Friend of CEPR,

Several times per year, we at the Center for Economic and Policy Research ask our friends and supporters to consider making a donation to sustain our work. This spring, we are asking for support for a crucial part of CEPR’s international work, our Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog.

CEPR created the Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog in the first few weeks after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, with a focus on ensuring that the most urgent needs of the Haitian people are being met. Through direct traffic as well as a partnership with Wired magazine, Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch has been able to reach thousands of people, including policymakers, journalists and aid workers on the ground in Haiti. From the very first post (there are now over 275 posts), the blog has focused extensively on the issue of adequate shelter and sanitation.

The blog has also had a definitive influence on the coverage of Haiti’s elections. CEPR has been a consistent voice in covering the elections, including the ongoing debate over the election results and the return of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. It has also become a significant source of information and analysis for many journalists covering Haiti.

But don’t just take our word for it…here’s what The Nation had to say:

Quote from The Notion, The Nation magazine’s blog:

”Praise to the Center for Economic and Policy Research for being the only Washington think tank to pay consistent, skeptical attention to Haiti. As usual, they have been doing invaluable work on the issue, including a statistical analysis of the stolen vote”.

We are asking you to help us to continue to provide some of the most thorough coverage on Haiti to be found. CEPR’s independence requires that we not accept funding from government agencies, corporations or unions. We rely on private foundations and individuals like you to fund our work, from our reports to our data bytes to our blogs.

Please contribute today and help CEPR to continue to speak out on the issues that are important to you. We can’t do it without you!

Thanks,

Mark, Dean and the staff of CEPR

 

Following the earthquake in Haiti, Lewis Lucke became the United States’ Special Coordinator for Relief and Reconstruction in Haiti. But less than a year after the earthquake he was in court suing the Haiti Recovery Group and its two partners, Ashbritt Inc. and the GB Group, for nearly $500,000. According to the AP, about two months after Lucke “finished” his work as US Special Coordinator, he began working with Ashbritt, a company we’ve written about numerous times before. The AP continues:

Lucke claims he “played an integral role” in securing two $10 million contracts — the one from the Haitian government and a second from the World Bank — along with a third with CHF International worth $366,000. He said he fulfilled his obligations under the contract by performing such services as “providing an understanding of the recovery efforts, making key introductions, and identifying sources of funding for HRG projects.”

The incentives under the contract provided he would be paid a bonus if the HRG earned contracts worth more than $6 million. Lucke says he is owed about $492,483 as well as attorney’s fees for the breach of contract.

Before the lawsuit was settled, however, Lucke was back at it. In December 2010, Lucke became a board member of MC Endeavor Inc. and its subsidiary, CENTIUUM Holdings Inc. The company describes itself as an “international Smart-Home Builder and Sustainable Community Developer utilizing green technologies”. In a press release announcing Lucke’s decision to join the board, the company touts Lucke’s work in Haiti:

Ambassador Lucke most recently served as U.S. Response Coordinator for the Haiti earthquake, leading the United States’ $1.0 billion to date relief and recovery program. The reconstruction phase is next and is expected to take about $10 Billion to build interim and permanent housing for over 1 million homeless earthquake victims.

Today, another press release notes that Lucke will be traveling to Haiti “to survey the reconstruction programs after last week’s announcement that musician Michel Martelly had won the Presidential Election.” The release notes that, “Martelly will have to work closely with private local and international donors to ensure prompt delivery and effective use of $10 billion in foreign aid.”

The press release also notes another position Lucke previously held: USAID Mission Director for Iraq. In 2003, immediately after the beginning of the Iraq War, Lucke became the first USAID Iraq Mission Director. Under that capacity he was responsible for Iraq’s reconstruction in the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the predecessor to the Coalition Provisional Authority. Forbes reported in 2003:

And now he’s [Lucke] supervising Bechtel Group as it starts to dredge Umm Qasr, Iraq’s only seaport, to ready it for matériel to rebuild the country. Lucke is the coordinator for reconstruction, managing a $2.5 billion project that some expect will inevitably balloon to $30 billion, if not $100 billion. As the ranking man on the ground for the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), his hands are also closest to the purse strings, since his State Department branch is funding and contracting out much of the work.

Of course the rapid proliferation of U.S. government contracts to private companies in Iraq as well as Afghanistan has led to billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. As the man whose hands were “closest to the purse strings” in Iraq, it is somewhat revealing that he would be tapped for a similar role in Haiti after the earthquake.

 

Following the earthquake in Haiti, Lewis Lucke became the United States’ Special Coordinator for Relief and Reconstruction in Haiti. But less than a year after the earthquake he was in court suing the Haiti Recovery Group and its two partners, Ashbritt Inc. and the GB Group, for nearly $500,000. According to the AP, about two months after Lucke “finished” his work as US Special Coordinator, he began working with Ashbritt, a company we’ve written about numerous times before. The AP continues:

Lucke claims he “played an integral role” in securing two $10 million contracts — the one from the Haitian government and a second from the World Bank — along with a third with CHF International worth $366,000. He said he fulfilled his obligations under the contract by performing such services as “providing an understanding of the recovery efforts, making key introductions, and identifying sources of funding for HRG projects.”

The incentives under the contract provided he would be paid a bonus if the HRG earned contracts worth more than $6 million. Lucke says he is owed about $492,483 as well as attorney’s fees for the breach of contract.

Before the lawsuit was settled, however, Lucke was back at it. In December 2010, Lucke became a board member of MC Endeavor Inc. and its subsidiary, CENTIUUM Holdings Inc. The company describes itself as an “international Smart-Home Builder and Sustainable Community Developer utilizing green technologies”. In a press release announcing Lucke’s decision to join the board, the company touts Lucke’s work in Haiti:

Ambassador Lucke most recently served as U.S. Response Coordinator for the Haiti earthquake, leading the United States’ $1.0 billion to date relief and recovery program. The reconstruction phase is next and is expected to take about $10 Billion to build interim and permanent housing for over 1 million homeless earthquake victims.

Today, another press release notes that Lucke will be traveling to Haiti “to survey the reconstruction programs after last week’s announcement that musician Michel Martelly had won the Presidential Election.” The release notes that, “Martelly will have to work closely with private local and international donors to ensure prompt delivery and effective use of $10 billion in foreign aid.”

The press release also notes another position Lucke previously held: USAID Mission Director for Iraq. In 2003, immediately after the beginning of the Iraq War, Lucke became the first USAID Iraq Mission Director. Under that capacity he was responsible for Iraq’s reconstruction in the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the predecessor to the Coalition Provisional Authority. Forbes reported in 2003:

And now he’s [Lucke] supervising Bechtel Group as it starts to dredge Umm Qasr, Iraq’s only seaport, to ready it for matériel to rebuild the country. Lucke is the coordinator for reconstruction, managing a $2.5 billion project that some expect will inevitably balloon to $30 billion, if not $100 billion. As the ranking man on the ground for the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), his hands are also closest to the purse strings, since his State Department branch is funding and contracting out much of the work.

Of course the rapid proliferation of U.S. government contracts to private companies in Iraq as well as Afghanistan has led to billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. As the man whose hands were “closest to the purse strings” in Iraq, it is somewhat revealing that he would be tapped for a similar role in Haiti after the earthquake.

 

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