Haiti: Occasional Musings – 7
I’m still searching for an answer to my question on selectivity and aid in Haiti – who gets aid, who gets support and who doesn’t. This leads to a second underlying question which is where did the money go and why still no accountability? Everyone asks the question and mostly the answer is the same as in this report from the Guardian on the third anniversary of the 2010 earthquake
We found that about 94% of humanitarian funding went to donors’ own civilian and military entities, UN agencies, international NGOs and private contractors. In addition, 36% of recovery grants went to international NGOs and private contractors. Yet this is where the trail goes cold — you can look at procurement databases to track primary contract recipients, but it is almost impossible to track the money further to identify the final recipients and the outcomes of projects.
How do you run a country on charity year in year out and at the same time provide transnational and other corporations a tax free haven and low waged labour rates? All over the global south, countries are running or half running on charity. Village water systems, free schools, housing, health care all provided by charities, personal donations, NGOs or donor aid with no accountability from anyone. A lot of promises were made after the earthquake in Haiti. One example of grand promises that haven’t been fulfilled is the one made to the Hospital of the State University of Haiti (HUEH) or the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince, by Partners In Health. The report was produced by PIH and the hospital as an invitation for donors to support the rebuilding.
Over the next five years, there is an opportunity, with appropriately administered strategic investments, to significantly alter the track of public health care in Haiti by making large scale improvements to HUEH.
This is in March 2010. Since then nothing has been done and the hospital is “sick and broken’. Meanwhile, PIH have built a state of the art hospital, the University Hospital of Mirebalais (HUM). Understandably one of Paul Farmer’s uses is to raise funds for Haitian health projects such as this much needed hospital. But I think it is important to ask why donors have not invested in rebuilding the present teaching hospital [and so many other hospitals and clinics] which is run by the Haitian government and instead prefer to support a foreign health initiative run by a foreign NGO albeit one of the few with an impeccable reputation.
Over the past year there have been a number of fires in the markets of Port-au-Prince which raised questions as to whether there was something sinister taking place or these were simply accidents. Last week on the streets of Petiton-Ville, market traders had the produce confiscated and in some cases burned as the police cleared the streets in a brutal women cleansing action. I noticed similar actions on Friday morning on the streets of Frere and on Saturday around Delmas 33. Women are by far the majority of street traders selling everything from fresh fruit, meat and vegetables to household goods and cooked food. Many of the women are extremely poor with just a 2ft by 2ft patch or one basket of oranges, tomatoes and so on. They are invariably the sole income earners providing for themselves and their children. Free schools are few and the average fees are 3,500 Haitian gds for entry then 750 a month and thats just for one child.
None of this is peculiar to Haiti as similar urban cleansing of the poor is taking place in cities across the global south and also in many European and US cities. In Lagos and Accra, systematic people and women cleansing has been going on for the past 3 four years with no provision of alternatives. With the poor driven to the margins and even greater poverty, or swept up by factories on the outskirts of town paying them a pittance, cities can be presented as havens of middle class progress and open for business and mass consumption.
Some after thoughts!
I find it irritating when the international media and liberal bloggers refer to the Haitian government as if it is an autonomous self-serving government rather than a puppet or set of puppets with international NGOs, foreign governments namely the US, Canada and France and the UN pulling the strings. I note that Nigeria now has an embassy in Haiti. This would have been great news had I really lost my Nigerian passport last week though I suspect I would still have had to go through the US embassy in Washington DC.