Yet the question remains whether the international aid community has learned from past development initiatives in the region that repeatedly have failed. [...] practitioners and donors become more efficient at improving the conditions on the ground, it is likely that last month's relief initiative will regrettably turn out to be just as futile as past endeavors.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs | www.coha.org Aid to Haiti: When and If International Assistance Efforts Will Succeed On April 14, delegates from 28 countries (MINUSTAH) are currently on the ground cent of the population, with 30,000 Haitians gathered in Washington for the International carrying out their sometimes controversial dying from the illness every year). Donors’ Conference on Haiti, where they role, and that all told, the international com- Haiti for a long time has been a high-ticket agreed to pledge $324 million in additional munity is providing several billion dollars item for the international community. For aid to Port-au-Prince over the next two years. worth of support for projects in the country, example, MINUSTAH—the U.N. security At the meet- force-- has an annual budget that exceeds $500 ing, which was “Until practitioners and donors become more efficient million. Furthermore, in 2008 alone, Canada hosted by the (historically, a major contributor to Haitian at improving the conditions on the ground, it is likely Inter-American development) distributed $230 million worth Devel o p m ent that last month’s relief initiative will regrettably turn out of food aid there. While there is no simple Bank (IDB), to be just as futile as past endeavors.” explanation for the past failure of aid, histori- contributors cally, an unstable central government coupled promised $15 million in emergency food its living standards remain fraught with sub- with a decaying social sector has caused, at assistance, $20 million to improve infrastruc- human conditions. Many experts attribute least in part, a lack of substantive develop- ture, and $2 million to help fight drug traffick- Haiti’s perpetual poverty, in part, to a lack of ment in the country. Of equal importance, an ing through the U.S.-backed Merida Initiative. accountability or a seriousness of purpose absence of accountability and vigilance on the Additionally, the recovery plan will target amongst the aid agencies charged with car- part of many NGOs (non-governmental orga- creating an estimated 150,000 desperately- rying out their projects. Without a doubt, nizations) has been instrumental in Haiti’s needed jobs in the country— and a stimulus the most recent aid package represents a inability to efficiently utilize aid coming from scenario that would considerably reduce the concerted effort by Haiti’s concerned interna- all around the world. country’s future dependence on foreign assis- tional benefactors to mitigate the situation in Aid Effectiveness tance. the country. Yet the question remains whether To a certain degree, shortcomings related Former Presi- the international aid community has to any foreign assistance program providing 3 dent Bill Clin- learned from past development initia- assistance to any developing nation can be ton appealed tives in the region that repeatedly have attributed to aid practitioners failing to fol- to the forum’s failed. Until practitioners and donors low necessary procedures and proper staffing participants to become more efficient at improving to guarantee a successful project. Part of the alleviate the the conditions on the ground, it is problem begins with the widespread notion plight of the likely that last month’s relief initiative that over half of international aid goes towards stricken nation. will regrettably turn out to be just as NGO “overhead” costs. Perhaps more signifi- “Haiti has a futile as past endeavors. cant, however, is that as a result of the absence chance. Haiti The Failure of Aid to Haiti of a clear injunction to execute a specific task, has good lead- Despite having allocated billions international relief initiatives often neglect to ers. Haiti has a of dollars in aid relief over the years, mitigate the dire human conditions that exists good plan,” he Haiti remains to a great extent a coun- throughout much of the developing world. insisted. “The try whose socio-economic structure Teaching a small-scale farmer in rural Tanza- people have the determination and the ability is utterly defective. An underlying cause of nia to produce multiple sustainable crops year- to carry out the plan. Only you can give them this seeming paradox is the reality that many round in his fields in order to eliminate depen- the capacity to do it. If you do it, you will help
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