More than eight months after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and almost six months to the day after the high-level donor meeting at the United Nations where the world pledged about $10 billion over three years for the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, the Associated Press reports that “just $686 million of that has reached Haiti so far.”
The single largest pledge at that donor conference was from the United States. And as the AP reports,”not a cent” of the $1.15 billion promised by the U.S. in March has reached Haiti. A document published by the Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti shows that only 35% of the total pledged for long-term reconstruction in March in New York has been disbursed as of September. As we noted in this blog back in April, “the international community can be fickle, and whether these pledges will be fulfilled completely and in a timely manner is not certain.”
It’s very disturbing to see that, in spite of all the good will and rhetorical commitments, Haiti’s reconstruction seems to be compromised right from the start. Should the international community – and the United States in particular, given their historical ties to the country – really want for Haiti to prosper in the long-term, their actions will have to match their words.
The reasons for the delay are manifold. Partisan gridlock in Washington, distractions with other crises like the Pakistan floods, and Senator Tom Coburn’s quixotic objection to one small provision of the funding bill have all held up the funding.
But whatever the reasons, the end result is devastating. Rubble is still lining the streets, hundreds of thousands of people are living in rudimentary tents, and resentment is running high. Just this week a strong thunderstorm destroyed 8,000 tents and killed six people, including two children.
Keep in mind that the United States has felt compelled to deploy military forces to Haiti three times since the mid 1990s. An investment in infrastructure development and reconstruction today might stave off the kind of political turmoil that has compelled the United States to deploy its military to Haiti three times in the last 15 years. It is way cheaper to pay organizations like CHF to hire Haitians to clear the streets than it is to send in the marines.
How about the United States show a little foresight?