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Zachary McGinnis Instructor; Malcolm Campbell English 1103 12/2/2013

Relief Spending after Haiti Disaster

Some of the most devastating events that have been cast upon mankind in the past few decades have come from the treacherous natural disasters. Areas that are made up of third world countries and very perish areas receive the worst of the trauma. According to The Guardian, in the last decade alone, there have been thirteen major natural disasters around the world which include the infamous earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and the tsunami that struck south Asia in 2004. When an events such as these strike part of a community, people from all over the world stop what they are doing and pitch in and contribute to whatever relief is being sent to that area. But a big issue that surrounds the relief is the topic of how the relief should be given to these poverish countries. As it is these areas are ridden with poverty, and after such a natural disaster; the country is left with nothing. The question is how governments supply enormous amounts of relief to a country that is left with nothing and has a long road ahead of them to overcome these obstacles. The answer to these questions are vital to the successful reconstruction of the impacted areas.

Before understanding what the government is doing with the millions of dollars in relief they are receiving from around the globe, we must first understand the government itself. When the earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, the country was already in a bad situation. Over the past decade, the government had been subjected to conspiracies, rigged elections, and corruption throughout the government. According to the Corruption Percentage Index, Haiti is in the top 150 most corrupt countries of the entire world. This is largely because of a man named Rene Preval. Preval took office in 2006, and only lasted until 2008. There were massive food riots throughout the capital because of how Preval was running the country which led to Haitis parliament throwing him out of office. Although this achieved the goal of getting the dictator out of office, it led to a country that lacked a defined government. This led to a decline in the economy, crime spread throughout the country, and it left Haiti in pieces before the earthquake had even struck. An unnamed earthquake victim had this to say about the government during the disaster to a CBC reporter; The government was largely absent during the earthquake. Many citizens doubt that there was much of a government at all. (CBC News) Possibly the most infamous disaster is the massive earthquake that struck the capitol city of Haiti two years ago on January 12, 2010. This earthquake which measured a 7.0mw destroyed 70% of the buildings in Port-au-Prince. Relief started that very day by starting to save survivors from the rubble that was left over. Many countries around the world saw the need suffering that the Haitians were going through and in total, Haiti received almost 2.2 billion dollars in foreign aid. $466,879,506 of that 2.2 billion dollars came from the United States alone; which was the highest amount given by an individual country (Foreign Aid). But where does all of this money go? How is it used by the government in terms of giving relief to its people? A lot of this money has gone to private contractors who are hired to

help rebuild houses and communities around the country. This money can do a lot of good in a third world country like Haiti. The president of Haiti imagines a city that is nothing but construction and rebuilding in a few years. He dreams that his people can be up on their feet in a short amount of time. But is this money being spent wisely? The president of Haiti reported in an NPR article in May 2013 that most of the relief money that he was promised has not been seen. Although the United States did give the government almost half a billion dollars, they had previously promised to send 1.2 billion dollars. This shows that somewhere along the line the U.S. stopped funding the relief program. Anastasia Moloney of trust.org believes that this fraction of money that the Haitian government actually revived is not being spent wisely. She says that way that these large amounts of money are being put into contractors are actually hurting the Haitian community by not allowing them to rebuild their own homes. She goes on to say; One of the biggest complaints about the aid response and effort in Haiti has been the lack of community involvement. Haitians dont know who aid donors are supposed to be helping and what they are actually doing. This shows that even though a large amount of foreign aid is coming in, it isnt doing anything beneficial to the community itself; it is more impairing them than anything. It is impossible for the Haitian government to help out in any way with the construction efforts if it doesnt know where the money is being spent. An NPR report interviewed multiple locals that were just a few of the millions that were left homeless after the earthquake. They say that three years after the earthquake they still do not have any housing. Relief camps are now sending them back in the community to find housing on

their own without any support. Jonathan Katz, author of the book Big truck went by goes on to say that a lot of money went to vital things such as food and tarps for shelter. But he explains how all of these resources get used up quickly; food gets eaten, tarps get taken down. And in the end, the people are left with nothing to build onto, nothing to drive them forward. Nothing that was obtained through the relief money was durable which in the long run is not valuable to the people that are suffering. Michel Martelly, the President of Haiti, once said in an interview stop sending the money, lets fix it, lets fix it (NPR). Instead of welcoming all of the foreign aid that is coming to his country, he wants the charity to stop. This is mainly because he believes that the money is hurting the economy which in turn is putting his country into an even deeper hole. When the money that comes in from oversees goes to the private contractors for construction, the money becomes very hard to track. Martelly does not like these contractors because not only are they unreliable, but they are taking the jobs away from the citizens. He says that they are taking jobs away from our best and brightest people. Instead of allowing the people of Haiti an opportunity to rebuild their own home and create jobs at the same time, these contractors are hiring their own people of the work. This is taking away huge opportunities to rebuild the nation of Haiti according to Martelly. He wishes that these contractors would leave him be so that his people can start to make a name for himself. The president of Haiti largely does not agree with how the money is being spent, or the fact that money is even being sent. But Joel Rubin, writer for the Los Angeles Times, says that the aid that has been sent has mostly been positive. Rubin argues that without the rush of aid that was sent right after the earthquake, medical supplies would not have been able to be rushed across the country and many more people would have lost their lives without it. He goes on to

say it is impossible to assess all aspects of the relief effort in Haiti, but markers of progress can be laid down on key issues being addressed on a large scale by the United Nations and other leading organizations. This is very true considering all of the problems that have surfaced in Haiti the past few years. With corruption in the government, poverty, lack of sanitization, and many other issues, progress in Haiti has been moving slowly but steadily. Gerard Gomez, a humanitarian aid leader in Haiti realizes this problem too. All of the relief that has come to Haiti has been a huge help to the country and to the communities all over the country. There has been no rioting over food, and we avoided people dying of hunger or thirst, this is no small accomplishment. The controversy over how the money is being spent is one that will not be settled for a while. With all of the relief coming in at such a short time, it is overwhelming to the community and may cause harm. But money isnt the only type of relief that Haiti has received in bulk. Most Haitians that lost everything wear hand me down shirts that families from America send down as a donation. There are entire ports in Haiti dedicated to selling and giving out all of the clothing that has been sent overseas. An organization known as Fashion Delivers asked businesses, individuals, shops, and many other locations to send these articles of clothing as charity. There are many other organizations that take part in the practice of collecting and donating clothing to disaster victims all over the world. This helps the community because it allows Haitians to not worry about making sure that they have clothes on their backs. Instead of spending money on a shirt or shorts, they are able to focus on more pressing matters. Haitians have their own nickname for the massive amounts of clothing that is being shipped over which is Pepe. Although the shirts are meant to help the community, this nickname does not translate to something very nice. Haitians dont entirely like the idea of

wearing these donated clothes because of the design of the shirts themselves. Haitians all over the country are now wearing shirts that read Im not a gynecologist, but Ill take a look and Im in Virginia Bitch. These kind of shirts reflect poorly upon Haitis culture and gives them a bad reputation to those who are visiting the country. But they have no other choice but to wear these condescending outfits on an everyday basis, which the locals do not like. This business of handing out clothing as charity also hurts the Haitian economy. Haiti once had a very successful tailoring industry. But now that clothes are being sent from overseas, these businesses are being shut down because they arent able to make enough money. Although it does seem like the right thing to do, donating those old tacky shirts might not be in the best interest of people that are effected. Over the summer of 2013, the youth group of Triangle Presbyterian Church took a ten day mission trip to a compound that was only ten minutes from downtown Port-au-Prince. Being part of this trip, I was very excited to see what a third world country would feel like. In my mind I did not picture the filth ridden streets that were shown on the news in 2010. But when we arrived to Haiti and took a tour of the surrounding neighborhood I was hit by the realization that almost nothing had been rebuilt. There were buildings who had completely destroyed second stories to them, houses that only consisted of a wall of bricks combined with a tarp, and roads that were so bad that drivers treated them as if it was one long speed bump. While going to work for the first day, our tour guide pointed out that there was a neighborhood that was going to be built close by, but all of the house owners died off before they were able to complete the construction. This fact struck me as shocking because I had assumed that the government was attempting to rebuild a lot of the housing that feel in the earthquake. But there was so much more that needed to be done in the area that I was walking around in. After witnessing what the actual

situation was in Haiti, I do not believe that the money that they received is doing all of the good that was promised. While some streets are lined with tent camps, the actual housing that the people need is not being touched. I believe that all of the money that was given must go towards building better communities instead of putting everybody under tarps that are squeezed together on a plot of land. Many people believe that disasters like the earthquake in Haiti have a quick fix solution to it. The rush of millions of dollars to Haiti may have been out of good heart, but ultimately hindered their progress towards rebuilding. A good example of this is something more close to home; hurricane Katrina. This hurricane was on American soil and millions of dollars were sent to help with the relief, but there is still a lot of work to be done. It is a solid example of how nothing has a quick fix. In order for Haiti to fully rebuild itself, it must put its funding towards allowing their citizens to do the rebuilding. They must work to rebuild their own country to achieve success or they will be trapped unable to get a grasp on their own community.

8 Work Cited

Antoniades, Andri. Why Are So Many Haitians Wearing Crude Slogans on Their Shirts? Because America... 2013. Photograph. TakePartWeb. 1 Dec 2013. <http://www.takepart.com/photos/why-are-impoverished-haitians-wearing-crudeslogans-their-shirts-america/out-of-business>.
"Foreign Aid to Haiti." Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 18 November 2013. Web. 20 Nov 2013. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_aid_to_Haiti>.Rubin, Joel. "Haiti Quake Response Largely a Success." Los Angeles Times. (2010): n. page. Print. <http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/12/world/la-fg-haiti-report-card12-2010mar12>. Provost, Claire. "A decade of Disasters." Data Blog. The Guardian, 18 Mar 2011. Web. 4 Dec 2013. <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2011/mar/18/world-disastersearthquake-data>. Schwartz, Daniel. "Where is Haiti's Government?" CDCNEWS. (2010): n. page. Print. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/where-is-haiti-s-government-1.966579>. trans. "What Happened to the Aid meant to rebuild Haiti?" NPR. NPR, 4 Mar 2013. web. 5 Nov 2013.