You have to have security, you have to have cars, you have to have a driver one in the morning and one in the afternoon, lamented Oxfam acting country director Cecilia Millan. Many people got rich selling supplies. Well, actually, not a lot of people got rich a few people who could do business got very rich.
Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles said personnel costs were particularly high, because there were not enough trained experts in Haiti. She acknowledges that the international community could have done a better job of training local Haitians.
Theres criticism that the money did not go to the Haitian government. I think its wrong to say it did not go to the Haitian people, she said, noting that most of 1,200 people hired were Haitian. I dont look back and see mistakes. I think we saved lives and made lives better. I know we got more kids in school.
Jake Johnston, a researcher at the CEPR who contributes to a Haiti aid watchdog blog, said many organizations appeared to spend money pleasing their boards and donors not the quake survivors.
A lot of good work was done; the money clearly didnt all get squandered, Johnston said. A lot just wasnt responding to needs on the ground. Millions were spent on ad campaigns telling people to wash their hands. Telling them to wash their hands when theres no water or soap is a slap in the face.
He pointed out that $170 million of the American Red Crosss funds went to other non-profit groups, meaning each receiving organization got to chip away at the donations to cover overhead.
As far as I am concerned, I dont see what they did with the money, said Wisner Frazme, 26, who shares a shack made of worn tarp, Canada written on the side, with seven relatives. Yes, they gave us some stuff to fight cholera; they gave us water, aqua tabs to treat the water. But right now, you dont even get that. You have to buy your own aqua tab and water.
He lives at one of Haitis largest tent cities, where tattered canopies stand empty, and the names of the organizations that mounted them are faded out by the sun.
The free soap, toothpaste and medical care long ago disappeared at the Acra tent city, as it did at hundreds of others in quake-affected communities in this poverty-stricken nation. These days, not even the latrines get cleaned regularly, leaving residents to wonder where the aid groups went, and what they did with all that money.
They used to give us a little bit of help. Others visited us, gave us advice, but there was nothing accomplished, said Mirlande Louis Jeune, a mother of three who has called the tent city in Delmas 32 neighborhood home since the massive quake destroyed her rental unit.
Aid organizations say more than 21,000 houses have been repaired, and 100,000 transitional shelters built. About half the rubble was cleared, 267 miles of road was built, and 650 schools repaired.
Quite honestly, donor funding is never going to be enough, said Tom Adams, the U.S. State Departments Haiti special coordinator. In some areas, we are really just starting, because we wanted it to be a Haitian-led effort, not a donor-led effort. We are criticized for not having spending the money faster, but in some ways thats a virtue. To spend intelligently, it has to be done in partnership with the government and other donors.
Many international donors have been slow to comply with their pledges: only half the funds promised by the international community have been dispersed. United Nations reports show countries such as Venezuela promised $1.3 billion but by December had only paid out $24 million.
Many groups are now trying to draw camp-dwellers back to their neighborhoods by repairing homes and providing community services.
The American Red Cross built about 5,000 transitional houses and fixed the same number of broken ones. By this time last year, The Red Cross had built 133 homes. Now it boasts 4,900.
But that organization and other large non-governmental organizations are continuously under fire here for having large balances. The American Red Cross alone has $150 million left, which it plans to use on long-term projects.
The positive news is there really has been significant progress. Weve had the he ability to transfer from emergency relief to recovery and focus on long-term solutions in housing (and) safer, more secure homes, said Red Cross spokeswoman Julie Sell. Everybody wishes we had made a little more progress in Haiti, not just the Red Cross.
Miami Herald Staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this report.
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