Rebuilding in Haiti Lags After Billions in Post-Quake Aid

Haiti After The EarthquakeFew days after Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, Reginald Boulos opened the gates of his destroyed car dealership to 14.000 displaced people who settled on the expansive property. Seven months later, eager to rebuild his business, he paid the families $400 each to leave Camp Boulos and return to their devastated neighborhoods. At the time, Dr. Boulos, a physician and business magnate, was much maligned for what was portrayed as bribing the homeless to participate in their own eviction. But, desperate to rid public plazas of squalid camps, Haitian government and the international authorities adopted his approach themselves: “return cash grants” have become primary resettlement tool. This represents a marked deflation of the lofty ambitions that followed the disaster, when the world aspired not only to repair Haiti but to remake it completely. New pragmatism signals an acknowledgment that despite billions of dollars spent, billions more allocated for Haiti but unspent, rebuilding has barely begun and 357,785 Haitians still languish in 496 tent camps. “When you look at things, you say, ‘Hell, almost three years later, where is the reconstruction?’ ” said Michèle Pierre-Louis, former prime minister of Haiti. “If you ask what went right and what went wrong, answer is, most everything went wrong. There needs to be some accountability for all that money.” An analysis of all that money, at least $7.5 billion disbursed so far, helps explain why such a seeming bounty is not more palpable here in eviscerated capital city, where the world’s chief accomplishment is to have finally cleared away most of the rubble. More than half of the money has gone to relief aid, which saves lives, alleviates misery, but carries high costs, leaves no permanent footprint, tents shred; emergency food and water gets consumed; short-term jobs expire; transitional shelters, clinics and schools are not built to last. Of the rest, only a portion went to the earthquake reconstruction strictly defined. Instead, much of the so-called recovery aid was devoted to costly current programs, like highway building and H.I.V. prevention, and to new projects far outside disaster zone, like an industrial park in the north and a teaching hospital in the central plateau. Meanwhile, just a sliver of the total disbursement, $215 million, has been allocated to the most obvious and pressing need: safe, permanent housing. By comparison, estimated minimum of $1.2 billion has been eaten up by short-term solutions, tent camps, temporary shelters, cash grants pay year’s rent. “Housing is difficult, messy, donors have shied away from it,” said J. Leitmann, of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/24/world/americas/in-aiding-quake-battered-haiti-lofty-hopes-and-hard-truths.html

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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