December 19, 2019
It appears that no amount of documented fraud, waste or corruption in Haiti will deter the U.S. government from sending the poverty-stricken Caribbean island huge sums of money. After the 2010 earthquake Congress approved billions of dollars to help the country bounce back but that never materialized, and no one really knows what happened to the money. A costly initiative to build housing failed miserably after the U.S. spent $90 million and tens of thousands of Haitians remain homeless nearly a decade later. The Clinton Foundation and Clinton Bush Haiti Fund also came up with some $88 million for earthquake recovery but Haiti remains a disaster, the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
Before the tremor a federal audit revealed that hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars were wasted on reckless Haitian projects with the single largest chunk—$170.3 million—going to a failed port and power plant adventure heavily promoted by Bill and Hillary Clinton. The Clinton-backed power and port venture is the biggest and most expensive failure mentioned in the probe, which was ordered by a Florida congresswoman who at the time confirmed a “troubling lack of progress and accountability” in Haiti reconstruction projects. A decade later many Haitians still live in deplorable, shanty town tent cities and a never-ending epidemic of cholera keeps claiming lives. Where did all that American aid go? Why doesn’t the government have a process in place to assure resources are properly used to help Haitians?
Despite receiving monstrous sums for earthquake recovery, it never materialized in Haiti and the money’s whereabouts remains a mystery. One national news report points out the disconnect between the massive amount of private and public aid and the poverty, disease and homelessness that still plague the country. Now the U.S. government is dedicating more funds to yet another cause on the island; a socio-political impasse that requires $20 million in ongoing emergency food-assistance programs as well as additional money to support humanitarian operations. The funds flow through the famously crooked—and scandal-plagued—United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is charged with providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance worldwide. This month the agency announced, that it’s kicking in an extra million to provide air, sea and road transport to bring emergency assistance to vulnerable Haitians amidst considerable insecurity.
Besides continuing financial support, the U.S. is also dedicating resources to help the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) distribute an additional 2,200 metric tons of food to 100,000 Haitians in the coming weeks. The 2,200 metric tons are in addition to 2,000 metric tons of U.S.-funded commodities delivered in response to the country’s perpetual emergency food needs. The multi-million-dollar food assistance project supports the “most vulnerable households with cash transfers and food vouchers, along with activities to strengthen livelihoods and promote key health and nutrition practices,” the agency announcement says. “In addition to food assistance, USAID supports communities in Haiti through funding for interventions in shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene that helps ensure they are prepared for potential disasters.”
On its Haiti page USAID writes that it is working to build a stable and economically viable Haiti, though challenges remain. “U.S. assistance focuses on long-term reconstruction and development, promoting economic growth, job creation and agricultural development, providing basic health care and education services, and improving the effectiveness of government,” USAID states. Billions of dollars later, it seems the U.S. hasn’t made a dent in Haiti and the money will keep pouring in. According to the Congressional Research Service, a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, the Trump administration requested $145.5 million for aid to Haiti for fiscal year 2020.