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How Humanitarian Aid Weakened Post-Earthquake Haiti | The Nation


For many of the countless NGOs that have mushroomed post-disaster, Mortime says, “I think it was important for them to go and help Haiti. But the way they went about it was not the right way.” Because some NGOs had haphazardly delivered services in a way that displaced indigenous institutions and local services, he adds, “humanitarian aid actually contributed to a weakening of the state and also to the weakening of local organizations.”Independent audits have revealed that the groundswell of international assistance efforts, ranging from missionary aid enterprises to ad hoc home building projects, have operated with little coordination, despite efforts by the United Nations OCHR, along with an international coordinating body, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, co-chaired by Bill Clinton, to centralize the distribution and deployment of recovery funds. The international “partnerships” have unraveled amid cost overruns and massive mismanagement. And Haiti’s government, historically tethered to streams of foreign aid and debt and cheap export trades, remains saddled with a shattered infrastructure and tattered public services. Today, 100,000 remain “internally displaced”, with ramshackle shanties standing as a sad epitaph to false promises.Asked about the complications that may arise when money falls into the hands of corrupt agencies, Mortime acknowledges, “It is true that the state structures are very weak,” and there were legitimate reasons for foreign donors to want to bypass the government. In the long term, however, he says Haiti can only develop self-sufficiency if its public agencies have a stake in the reconstruction. The recovery effort might have made more progress by now, had the NGOs prioritized working within the existing institutions rooted in Haiti, “to help the state rebuild its own structure, by going through the government agencies that are already there for these specific reasons.” via | The Nation

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