Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Have Rich Countries Forgotten Haiti? Key Facts on International Assistance

  1. Center for Economic and Policy Research: Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch

At the UN-backed donor conference at the end of March, countries and organizations from all over the globe pledged over $10 billion for Haiti relief. Over $5.3 billion was pledged for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. Now, nearly five months after the conference, we take a look at the status of these pledges.

The UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti has been tracking international assistance (PDF) from the top 30 donors, and despite the dire situation on the ground and an immediate need for funding, billions have yet to be distributed. Not including debt relief, the top 22 donors pledged an amazing $2.6 billion just for fiscal year 2010, yet five months later, only 20 percent of this ($538.3 million) has been distributed. However, looking at where that money comes from reveals that few nations – and very few high-income countries at all – have contributed to this. Over $200 million of that total has come from multilateral organizations such as the IDB, World Bank and IMF. Among countries, the top three are Spain, which has distributed $126.3 million, Japan, with $56.7 million, and Brazil with $55 million. The United States, which pledged $898.4 million in 2010, has not distributed or even committed any money so far.

The Haiti Reconstruction Fund, a partnership between the Government of Haiti and the International Community and described as “the largest source of un-earmarked financing,” has received only $100.7 million from Brazil, Norway, Australia, Colombia and Estonia.

One positive is that, according to the Special Envoy for Haiti, of the $538.3 million that has been distributed, at least $144.9 million has gone as budget support (PDF) to the Government of Haiti.  This compares with just 0.33 percent in budget support – out of the $1,876.9 million – that has been spent in humanitarian relief.  Donors’ reliance on NGOs over the Haitian government is reminiscent of the approach taken by the US and other donors with the Aristide administration. As Paul Farmer testified before Congress:

Beginning in 2000, the U.S. administration sought, often quietly, to block bilateral and multilateral aid to Haiti, having an objection to the policies and views of the administration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected by over 90% of the vote at about the same time a new U.S. president was chosen in a far more contested election. How much influence we had on other players is unclear, but it seems that there was a great deal of it with certain international financial agencies, with France and Canada; our own aid, certainly, went directly to NGOs, and not to the government. Public health and public education faltered, as did other services of special importance to the poor.

Farmer added that, “How can there be public health and public education without a stronger government at the national and local levels?”

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