Half the money world governments pledged to Haiti never showed up. Half the money American private donors raised for Haiti hasnt been spent. And many millions went to things like gasoline, car rentals and salaries.
Two years after the ground shook in Haiti, more than 500,000 people remain on the street, many of them wondering why all that assistance did not lift them out of dire straits. In a nation where the minimum wage is $5 a day, international aid groups say seven-figure donations aimed at rebuilding the health care, housing and school systems were just not enough to alleviate a country mired in poverty.
So while families continue to live in plastic tents, some organizations are running dry and major reconstruction projects are taking years longer than anticipated. Even after the billions were spent and billions more promised, experts say it will be another 10 years of spending before people see serious results.
The worlds response to the disaster is slowly coming to an end, said Sam Worthington, who heads InterAction, an umbrella group of major international aid groups. I look at whats left to be done and how much money is left $360 million theres no way that much amount of money can address the problems that exist down there.
A 7.0 earthquake devastated the capital two years ago Thursday, killing 316,000 people and toppling hundreds of buildings. The world rushed to Haitis aid, sending money via text message, telethon, debt relief and through foreign ministries.
The International Red Cross alone raised more than $1 billion. Just in the United States, Americans actually donated more than they pledged, and chipped in $1.36 billion. Of that, $725 million was used to keep quake survivors alive, under tents and free from disease, Worthington said. The rest is on long-term planning drawing boards.
It was about one-tenth of what the Haitian government said it needed, Worthington said. There will be wholesale areas and families that will not see results.
But just as many Haitian survivors suspected, huge amounts of money went toward supporting the relief and recovery operation in intangible ways that were difficult for most Haitians to accept or understand. The lack of an educated civil society meant agencies had to send in experts for everything from accounting to human resources, feeding the perception that aid benefited foreigners as much as it helped Haitians.
The Center for Economic Policy Research think tank found that beltway area for-profit development companies received 83 percent of U.S. Agency for International Development Haiti contracts. About 2.5 percent of the funds went to Haitian companies, and less than half of one percent went to Haitian non-profit groups.
Agencies also burned through money on soaring rents and overpriced supplies. After the quake, landlords charged $7,000 or more to rent a single house and quadrupled the prices of materials.
Consider: Project Medishare, the University of Miami hospital, spends $30,000 a month on electricity alone. It costs another $3,500 a month to rent an SUV in Haiti.
Tax records show Save the Childrens Haiti financial director one of 1,200 Haiti employees earns almost $200,000 annually.
Oxfam is among the few groups that spell out how much it spent just on management: $14.4 million. It also spent $150,000 a month trucking water and $30,000 per month on warehouse fees.