Posted by hougansydney.com on Friday, October 7, 2016 Under: Haiti Hurricane Matthew
For all the wrong reasons, Haiti, once again, has garnered international headlines this week, as Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful storm to hit the country in over half a century wreaked havoc, and caused, what many experts are calling, the greatest natural disaster to affect Haiti since a devastating earthquake in 2010.
300 people and counting are confirmed dead; many missing and some 350.000 displaced.
In the midst of all this destruction and suffering, there is a another crisis or catastrophe waiting to happen in Haiti in the months and years that will follow Hurricane Matthew if Haitian authorities do not act immediately. It won't be a humanitarian nor a health crisis, but an NGO catastrophic disaster.
If the Haitian government do not act, as in 2010 in the wake of the earthquake, despite the impressive international response, good intentions will once more implode at the expense of those they are meant to help; millions of donated money will go up in flame with no accountability and nothing to show for it.
The billions of dollars that poured into Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, were for the most part wasted, mismanaged and stolen, and there was no accountability whatsoever. Only a portion went to earthquake relief efforts and reconstruction. Donations made to international charities to help Haiti, got spent on the charities' normal expenses. Unscrupulous businesses, cut behind the scene deals to made sure pledged money was used to buy supplies and services from their own companies at considerable profits. The local government had been stripped of all control of donated funds by greedy and incompetent outsiders. In fact, less than 1% of said funds went trough the Haitian government. Billions of dollars that could have remained in the country and stimulated the flattened economy and ultimately help rebuilt Haiti, went all back to exactly where they came from. International agencies disembarked in the country with their plans, materials and staff without the consideration of able local people nor companies. Out of 1.500 contracts given out a year after the earthquake only 20 were to Haitian companies.
Haiti's present situation is a damning testimony of failure of the reconstruction efforts that the big players enthusiastically coordinated in 2010.
Despite all that had been promised and the billions that had indeed been donated, almost nothing has been built back. As Matthew made landfall this past Tuesday, there was still some 60.000 people made homeless by the quake 6 years ago, that were still living under tents in the streets of Port-au-Prince.
For these reasons and many more we urge the Haitian parliament to immediately convene in urgent national assembly to adopt emergency laws to, among others, regulate the thousands of ONG that will begin operating in the country, collecting millions if not billions without any oversight whatsoever. Haitian parliament must past emergency legislations to ensure that pledged and donated money go to Haitian agencies which will be better able to set local priorities and buy relief and basic supplies such as food, water, soap, toothpaste and other sanitary materials from Haitian companies established in Haiti, that already employ Haitians and will likely hire more as demand for their products increase.
Latin American countries that have been affected by an exodus of Haitian migrants should also push for better aid management in Haiti if they want to stem the flow of people coming in by the thousands. Countries such as Mexico, Panama and Colombia that recently had to declare humanitarian crisis due to the unexpected arrival of thousand of migrants from Haiti should help the poor country advocate for better spending of donated money.