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Friday, February 23, 2024

Five years later, Haiti is still crippled

haitibBy Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine

Another year has gone by and a new anniversary is up on us. Albeit few cosmetic changes, the scars of the calamity that wrecked Haiti five years ago are undeniably visible. Five years later, those who have been in power have very little to show for, although they might have plenty to answer to the Haitian people—still bruised and shockingly traumatized.

The reconstruction Commission co-chaired by Bill Clinton and the Haitian Prime Minister has yet to give a clear account of the expenditures. According to the United Nations, out of the 13.3 billion dollars pledged to Haiti at the donor conference in New York in the aftermath of the earthquake, 50% of that has been disbursed. The bulk of that 6 billion dollars donated to Haiti has been channeled through foreign contractors and corrupt government officials who used their position of power to sweeten deals in exchange for a share of the pie.

According to ABC News, some global development analysts say that those foreign contractors have “built-in inefficiencies, compounded by a lack of accountability and transparency.”

Meanwhile, millions go hungry every day. While Sweet Micky and his cronies are bluffing their way into the years, claiming success in the face rampant poverty, the USAID has released a list of its own expenditures for Haiti, five years later. This also was reported by ABC News. Read it below.   

“The USAID list of expenditures includes: emergency food for 4 million, temporary shelter for 1.5 million, 2.7 million cubic meters of rubble removed, 600 classrooms created, construction of a power plant for a new U.S.-brokered factory park, support for 160 health clinics, funding to arrest a cholera outbreak that killed nearly 9,000, better technology for farmers, and the creation of permanent housing.

The housing program can hardly be branded a success, though. A government audit in 2013 found that USAID underestimated how much would be needed for settlements, ballooned the budget from $59 million to $97 million while cutting its goal from 15,000 houses to 2,649. It’s put up about 900 so far.

“We realized we are not going to come anywhere close to building the kind of housing stock Haiti requires,” said Hogan, saying the focus has shifted to financing so Haitians can build or improve homes themselves.”

The permanent homes mentioned be USAID are nothing but flimsy cottages without any solid foundation, electricity and running water. This precarious condition has exacerbated a situation that was already dire before the earthquake. They built refugee camps instead of helping needy Haitians to rebuild their lives in the pure Haitian traditions. 

To showcase progress, they have released pictures of a couple of hotels recently built around the country—places few Haitians can afford to use. As the world looks the other way, they’ve been funneling money out of the state treasury to their private bank accounts in safe havens throughout the Caribbean while secretly buying luxury, multimillion-dollar homes in exclusive suburbs of Palm Beach, Florida and on the French Riviera. Shame on them!   

Haitians are very patient, sometimes too patient when it comes to tolerating government corruptions. It appears, though, that patience is running thin, as frustrations and anger boil throughout the land. Sweet Micky’s bandwagon has ran out of steam. They want him out, and they also want to put on trial his former PM Laurent Lamothe for embezzlement and treason. As I have said before, what Haiti needs is a complete break from the past, the deracination of this currently corrupt state bureaucracy and the creation of a new one where honest in public affairs will be norm rather than a once-in-blue-moon exception.

Note: Dr. Ardain Isma is the author of a several books on Haiti, including the recently published and critically acclaimed novel titled Midnight at Noon. He teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at UNF. Click here to get a copy of the book: Midnight at Noon

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