Monday, March 18, 2013

Haiti: Predatory Clients, Predatory Non-Profits (aka “NGOs”)

[Previously, at WEJB/NSU:

“Americans Got Ripped Off for Billions of Dollars in Earthquake Aid to Haiti, and NPR and Poverty Pimp Jonathan Katz Rub Their Noses in It, by Adding Insult to Injury”;

“Haiti: Canadian Hockey Commentator Don Cherry Asks, ‘Are We Nuts?’ to Give Haiti $49.5 Million, When We’re Broke?”; and

“Canadian Columnist Margaret Wente: Let’s Help Haiti, by Letting the Haitians Move to Canada [and Destroy It!]; It Won’t Cost Us Anything, and It Will Actually Help Them.”]

Posted by Nicholas Stix

* * *
Canada: Haiti’s ‘republic of NGOs’ must be held accountable
By Ozzie Saffa
January 12, 2013

Today is the third anniversary of the Haitian earthquake and everyone is rightly eager to see what has happened to the country since then. How many new roads, hospitals, houses, buildings, schools etc. have been built with all the donated money. Well, don't get your hopes up if you are one of the many who donated, because it seems that not much has changed since the earthquake, apart from 80% of the rubble being cleared. Yes, it's taken them 3 years to clear 4/5ths of the rubble and that's it. Displaced people still live in 'temporary' housing all around Port au Prince, the epicenter of the earthquake, and these temporary dwellings will eventually become permanent.... [N.S. This is a merely rhetorical ellipsis, because there is no missing text.]

So what happened to the more than $9 billion of international 'aid' money that was raised for Haiti? Well, $580 million of it went to the Haitian government and another $36.2 million went to Haitian NGOs. The rest was kept and spent by international leechers do-gooder non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with no accounting for how the money was stolen spent.

These do-gooder organisations mainly rely on volunteers to do their work so most of the monies raised for 'aid' goes to pay for their salaried staff. I would hazard a guess that some people high up in these NGOs are living quite well on the money collected. Hence why I never ever donate to them. How many times have you switched on your TV and a UNICEF advert comes on showing a starving African child and asking you to donate a few dollars monthly to give them clean water? Well, UNICEF's CEO makes $1.2 million a year. Red Cross any better? Well, their CEO in 2009 was earning just over $650 000 a year. I have no idea what it would be today. Most NGO's are nothing better than a business, which trades in emotion in exchange for your money to make you feel better about helping someone. All you're doing is making these organisations feel a whole lot better about themselves.

So is it any wonder that most of the money collected for Haiti has ended up doing absolutely nothing for the country? After the earthquake, the international community were rightly unwilling to donate money directly to the Haitian government due to them being corrupt, and instead donated to the next best thing to ease their conscience - the unaccountable NGOs. The Canadian government has finally woken up to the scam and has said that they are reviewing the way their money is being spent in Haiti. Duh! When 'rich' countries give paternalistic aid away to be seen to be doing something, then corruption of that money soon occurs. Countries who wanted to do something meaningful could have sent their own people to Haiti to organise and coordinate the relief effort and the re-building instead of entrusting tax payer money to a third party to manage it on their behalf....and then not review what's happening with that money.

However, most of the blame for the non-recovery lies at the feet of the Haitian people. After 3 years of waiting for others to do it for them, they have sat and waited for others to do it for them instead of helping themselves. That's 3 years wasted. Rebuilding the country needs to come from the people, not from a bunch of outside organisations who use volunteers as their slave labour. Those dopey volunteers who are eager to prove that they care by doing something to feel good about themselves by not actually directly helping those who need the help.Far better to stay in your own countries and help in your own local communities. After all, charity begins at home.

Today I saw a documentary of a fly-over of the capital Port au Prince, and all I could think while watching was that it could be anywhere in Africa. Miles and miles of shanty towns; and in the CBD, rows and rows of shacks built on any available piece of flat land. Viewing this footage I can tell you one thing: Haiti is not going to join the real world....ever.

Let's not kid ourselves. Haiti is a country of displaced Africans living as they do in Africa and no amount of aid money will make it anything more. You only have to look at the relative success of the Dominican Republic right next door to see that it's not impossible to make it a successful country if there was a will from the people.

Hmmmm, I wonder what is holding it back?

Haiti’s Republic of NGOs Must be Held Accountable
By Mark Rodgers
January 11, 2013
The Globe and Mail

Saturday marks the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti and left 1.5 million people displaced or homeless. Rebuilding has been slow. In the three years since a ‘republic of NGOs’ descended on Haiti, their lack of progress is beginning to cause the faith of some Canadians to be shaken, if not completely lost.

Indeed, the Minister of International Co-operation’s concern with the slow progress in Haiti is so great, he announced a review of Canada’s long-term strategy for the still reeling nation. Others, like Margaret Wente and Don Cherry, would go further and have Canada retreat from Haiti altogether. It is fair to say that among Canadians, in general, confidence and hope for rebuilding Haiti are at an all-time low.

As a leading voice, Habitat for Humanity Canada acknowledges the need to rebuild confidence in the NGO sector if NGOs are going to rebuild Haiti. It means joining the debate on Canada’s future in Haiti and taking on those who would give up hope. It also requires all of us in the sector to take a long hard look at the work we are doing and prove that it delivers sustainable impact as promised.

Julian Fantino, the Minister of International Co-operation, is right to ask for accountability and a review is welcome. The international aid sector should be challenged to achieve what it sets out to do. Canadians deserve to know that the dollars they contribute to rebuilding Haiti are actually producing results.

When the earthquake hit in 2010, Habitat for Humanity had been in Haiti for more than two decades. We were there to build safe, decent shelter, as well as the capacity and skills of Haitian women and men. As such, Habitat for Humanity has a long perspective on the successes and failures of the rebuilding process. The world saw the destruction but we were already on the ground as lives were lost, homes destroyed, and billions of dollars in damage occurred.

Then came the flood of NGOs from around the world, with some estimates putting the number of organizations there to ‘help’ at 9,000. Some of those had great impact. Others had impact that was slower to progress than expected. But many only added to the chaos and confusion on the ground.

Greater accountability over aid dollars is the only effective way to thin the ranks of those who are getting in the way of real progress in rebuilding Haiti. Aid agencies must be held accountable for every dollar received from donors and partners – including the Canadian government and taxpayers who have invested in our projects in Haiti and elsewhere.

With the support of the Canadian International Development Agency, Habitat Canada just completed a neighborhood revival project in Simon Pele, an urban slum of Port-au-Prince. The return on the $1.3-million Canadian taxpayers invested in our aid project helped build safe, decent shelter for almost 4,600 families and provided practical skills and job training for 23,000 Haitian women and men.

Results matter. Habitat for Humanity has contributed to emergency and permanent housing for more than 50,000 families or 250,000 individuals to date. Canadian volunteers in the Jimmy Carter Work Project helped build 100 homes during its first week-long project in November, 2011, and another 100 homes in Leogane in 2012.

The results of these projects demonstrate that there has been positive, effective progress in Haiti. To those like Don Cherry and Margaret Wente who propose we turn our backs and watch Haiti disappear in our rear-view mirror, we implore you to reconsider because the need is great and real progress is and will continue to be possible.

A move towards greater accountability will restore the confidence Canadians need to not turn their backs, close their wallets or shut their minds to the issues in Haiti. Resources are available, such as through Canada Revenue Agency, to assist in selecting NGOs to ensure funds donated impact real change.

Canadians know the need continues to be great and do not want to turn away from Haiti, but they are right to expect that everyone working there be accountable for their actions and spending. There are results-based, effective and cost efficient recovery and development projects being done in Haiti by hard-working NGOs.

This is not a time to stop what we’re doing, but rather to learn from what we have done to ensure we can effectively complete what we’ve started.

Mark Rodgers is the chief operating officer of Habitat for Humanity Canada

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