This is page is dedicated towards aid in Haiti and examines the methods and controversies surrounding that aid. Even before the tragic earthquake, many organizations and countries worked towards Haitian relief. After the earthquake, more attention has been paid to humanitarian work in Haiti and a greater number number of organizations, ranging from governments to small non profit organizations, have been working towards building Haiti back better. Aid has become more important because of the greater need of the Haitian people. BBC news illustrates the damages of the earthquake from a variety of perspectives in the link above. Most of the aid in Haiti is performed through the NGOs or non- governmental organizations.
Before the Earthquake
Reasons for the vast aid corps range from the simple proximity — Haiti is close to the USA, easily reached and desperately poor — to the spiritual.
Churches and faith-based groups routinely send waves of volunteers, in batches of five to 20 at a time for a week or two, to share the Gospels and build and tend churches, schools and clinics, particularly in the populous Port-au-Prince area. Many return year after year.
Haiti was known as the “Republic of NGOs” prior to January 2010. This description of Haiti refers to the large number of NGOs that work in Haiti. Before the earthquake, the global media was not as invested in Haiti, and so the tensions surrounding the constant presence of outside aid were not widely publicized.
Critics of NGOs accuse these private organizations of preventing Haiti from gaining true self-sovereignty. The intentions of NGOs are genuine in their efforts to help Haiti. The above link is to an NPR article from a year after the earthquake that brings up problems still facing Haiti today. But while the political climate is no better, some of the points brought up against NGOs have been addressed by organizations that are not seeking to profit. Aid in Haiti is focused on long-term issues such as health care, education, housing, and agriculture, but the earthquake shifted the attention of aid providers to immediate disaster relief.
Progress in Aid
The NGO’s in Haiti have been at work . However after the earthquake, the number of NGO’s working in Haiti increased tremendously. They cover a range of sectors, including health, shelter, water, sanitation, education, agriculture and providing jobs and livelihoods, which are much needed in Haiti. See InterAction’s Haiti mapping project for a better idea of who is doing what, where.
Some highlights of achievements so far:
- The Red Cross network has completed more than 6,500 semi-permanent homes, provided sanitation facilities to more than 400,000 people and emergency shelter to 180,000.
- Food For The Poor has built more than 2,000 two-room concrete block houses since the earthquake and has completed 110 water projects throughout the country. It also has a feeding center in the capital where 14,000 people get hot meals twice a day, six days a week. Food For The Poor has 33 fishing villages along Haiti’s coasts.
- CARE has built 2,550 transitional shelters in Leogane and Carrefour areas, repaired 500 permanent homes to make them habitable and is also involved in building latrines in camps and furnishing schools and providing psychosocial support to families.
- UNICEF delivers clean water to more than 182,000 people; is distributing 11.5 million water purification tablets in camps and under-served communities. UNICEF has also reached more than 400,000 children with essential school supplies and is a key provider of immunization programs.
- CHF International has completed over 5,000 shelters since the earthquake, including 2,000 light gauge steel-framed structures and over 3,000 timber framed shelters.
- The IRC currently maintains water and sanitation programs at 31 settlements for more than 100,000 people and has an extensive family reunification program that involves identifying separated children, ensuring temporary protection and care, tracing families, reunifying families and follow-up and monitoring.
- The IRC has put to work more than 2,000 Haitians through an ongoing cash-for-work program that ensures equal access to employment opportunities for women.
- Save the Children is in the process of building and/or renovating 51 schools and sanitation facilities that will help 11,575 children. STC is also helping 20,781 children access a full package of school health and nutrition (which includes deworming pills, vitamin A supplements, iron supplements, vision and hearing screening) in 108 schools.
NGOs in Haiti
The USA is the largest foreign source of relief aid to Haiti from the 2010 Haiti earthquake. USA, through USAID is giving more than $712 million in aid. However, this money is comprised by the donations of many non-governmental organizations such as World Vision and the Red Cross accumulated from different parts of the globe through various campaigns in support of Haiti. In comparison, the EU and the 27 member-states alone are providing over 400 million euro, which is about $650 million dollars. Following this logic, the EU seems to be the largest financial support given to the Haitian nation.
The humanitarian response by non-governmental organizations to the 2010 Haiti earthquake included many non-governmental organizations, such as international, religious and regionally based NGOs, that immediately pledged support in the aftermath of the earthquake. Besides a large multi-contingency contribution by national governments, NGOs contributed a significant deal to both on-the-ground rescue efforts and external solicitation of aid for those rescue efforts. Different groups have different goals ranging from installing street lights and building small schools to building entire cities, educating the youth, changing the political system and essentially ‘rebuilding’ the whole of Haiti.
Partners in Health
PIH is known in Haiti as Zanmi Lasante, which is Haitian Creole for “Partners in Health.” PIH works in many countries, but their program in Haiti is the original. Their first clinic opened in the village of Cange in 1985, and they have kept their presence in Haiti constant. After the 2010 earthquake, PIH provided care to Haitians who fled to the Central Plateau and Artibonite regions as well as those who had to relocate to camps in Port-au-Prince. PIH is invested in Haitian-run establishments and programs.
Founded in 2005 by Grammy-award winning musicians Wyclef Jean and Jerry Duplessis and Hugh Locke, Yélé Haiti is a grassroots, non-political charitable organization focusing on emergency relief, employment, youth development and education, and tree planting and agriculture.
Yélé Haiti was profoundly and permanently changed by the earthquake of January 12, 2010. The current programs are a combination of emergency relief and long-term rebuilding. However, two programs continue from the pre-earthquake period: Yélé Vert and the Youth Orchestra of Haiti.
OBI is a Christian organization dedicated to “alleviating human suffering in the United States and around the world.” In Haiti, they have a children’s home, a hospital, fish farms, and clean water initiatives. The organization was founded in 1978 and works in many countries all over the world.
Haitian Reactions to Aid
In this video from the Pulitzer Center, Haitian Paul Nixon expresses his anger toward Wyclef Jean and his NGO work and presidential run.
This image comes from an article on the Partners in Health website about Tatiana Therosme, a Zanmi Lasante psychologist who was honored by Women Deliver as one of “the 100 most inspiring people working to improve the lives of girls and women around the world.” Mental health professionals are rare in Haiti, and Therosme has been hard at work with women suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake. In the above photograph, Therosme is standing in front of a patient’s home in Cange.
Other Resources and Articles
This website maps out all of the aid work in Haiti. It also gives information on specific projects in specific areas and is a very helpful tool for those who are more interested. It basically informs the viewer of ‘what is going on, where’.
In this interview, Martelly discusses the importance of the aid provided by Venezuela. Venezuela pledged $1.3 billion dollars to aid Haiti and has so far disbursed $118 million. Martelly hopes to improve Haiti’s economy and relations with Venezuela.
This interesting piece of information looks at aid in Haiti from another perspective.
This article from Forbes, which came out soon after the earthquake, discusses the rush to aid Haiti in the aftermath of the event. It also includes a video interview about the Davos agenda in Haiti.
Released by Partners in Health, this article discusses ways that NGOs can be helpful by providing long-term aid without making it harder for the government to regain control.
This is a Haitian perspective on the state of the country. It mentions the social climate as well as the problems associated with NGO aid, including the temporary nature of their employment of Haitians.
This article talks about the failure of aid in Haiti, and the reason it is hard to understand for those not living through it. The author discusses the long-term failures of Haitian aid and politics, and urges the reader to ask questions and look for real solutions.