Donor Disbursements Slowing According to Latest Data from Special Envoy

April 25, 2012

The Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti released updated data this week on public sector donor disbursements since the earthquake in Haiti. The Special Envoy has been instrumental in holding donors accountable for pledges they made at the March 2010 New York donor’s conference. For the period 2010-2012, 55 public sector donors pledged $5.48 billion dollars with $2.48 billion, or 45.3 percent being disbursed so far. This represents an increase of $96 million since the last update in December 2011, the smallest such increase since the Special Envoy has been tracking donor disbursements.

Overall, the $2.48 billion has been disbursed through four main channels:

–          $1.65 billion (66.6 percent) in grants to multilateral agencies, NGOs and private contractors
–          $337.2 million (13.6 percent) in budget support to the Government of Haiti
–          $295.6 million (11.9 percent) to the World Bank, IDB and UN through the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (HRF)
–          $196.9 million (7.9 percent) in loans to the Government of Haiti

The vast majority of these funds were disbursed in 2010. According to the Special Envoy (PDF), $1.61 billion was disbursed in 2010, $843.1 million in 2011 and just $27.8 million thus far in 2012.  An important qualifier is that disbursed does not mean spent. For example, of the $295.6 million that has gone to the HRF, only $55.7 million has been spent on the ground.

As can be seen in Figure 1, many of the top donors have failed to live up to their pledges (PDF).

Figure 1.


It should be noted, however that the Special Envoy did not receive updated information from Canada or Venezuela and at least in the case of Venezuela it is likely that support is much greater than reflected here. For example half of Haiti’s domestically financed capital spending in 2012 will come from concessional financing obtained through the PetroCaribe program with Venezuela, while Haiti has spent nearly $300 million on infrastructure projects since the earthquake with funds from PetroCaribe.

Pace of Disbursement Slows

This is the sixth update from the Special Envoy tracking donor pledges.  While over previous periods disbursements had increased by an average of $372 million, during this period they only increased by $96 million. The resignation of Prime Minister Garry Conille following pressure from President Martelly will likely be cited by donors in explaining the slow rate of disbursal, yet most money bypasses the Haitian government.  The slowdown in funding also comes at a time when many have been calling for increased spending on infrastructure projects especially for water and sanitation in order to control the cholera epidemic. In January, the presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, together with PAHO/WHO, UNICEF, and the CDC “appealed to donor countries and agencies to fund the investments by honoring pledges made after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and through new funds specifically targeted at water and sanitation infrastructure.”

Many donors have committed significant resources outside of their official aid pledges. According to the Special Envoy, over $12 billion has been committed and $5.68 billion spent on both the humanitarian response and recovery projects. The breakdown is as follows:

–          $2.21 billion in humanitarian funding
–          $168.1 million for the response to cholera
–          $2.48 billion in recovery funding from donor pledges
–          $760.5 million in recovery funding outside the pledges

Working With or Around the Government?

The Special Envoy estimates that of the $5.68 billion, only about 10 percent has “has been channeled to the Government of Haiti using its systems.” Less than 1 percent of humanitarian funding went to the government of Haiti, and while recovery funds have channeled a larger percent through government systems, it still represents less than 20 percent.

Particularly troublesome is the low percent of cholera funding (PDF) that has gone through the Haitian government. While much of the funding for cholera went to NGOs, when grants ended these NGOs were forced to pull out, in some cases without anybody filling the gaps. Rather than using the cholera response as means to strengthen the public health system in a sustainable way, as can be seen in Figure 2, the response has largely bypassed the Government of Haiti. In fact, the Red Cross received more funds from donors for the cholera response ($6.1 million) than did the Haitian government ($4.9 million).

Figure 2.


It is particularly important for aid to strengthen public institutions. In Haiti, donors often say weak institutions are what prevent them from using country systems, yet as the Special Envoy has previously noted, “aid is most effective at strengthening public institutions when it is channelled through them.”

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