July 16, 2012
Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone?
It is unacceptable and unsustainable that the Haitian government has received less than 1% of the billions of dollars of relief aid that have flowed to Haiti since the devastating earthquake in 2010, and only somewhere between 15 and 21% of longer-term relief aid. Hence, instead of building Haitian capacity, such aid has encouraged dependencies.
This was the major criticism levied by Paul Farmer, United Nations deputy special envoy to Haiti and founder of Partners in Health, during an open dialogue at the World Bank on July 12.
Farmer’s comments echoed the findings of a report by the Center for Global Development titled “Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone?“ The report examines the problems with foreign assistance to Haiti, and charges that “The dominance of international NGOs and private contractors in Haiti has created a parallel state more powerful than the government itself… but do not have much accountability to the Haitian government or people.”
Read the report for a detailed examination of foreign assistance to Haiti, who got the money, the criticisms, and policy options.
June 22, 2011
Mennonite Central Committee along with thirty seven other religious groups has signed a letter to President Obama calling for an end to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. The letter also calls for untying development aid from the military counterinsurgency strategy. The letter states that “militarized aid has worked to undermine long term sustainability while proving ineffective in addressing immediate poverty concerns.” And the letter further states that “the past ten years have shown that we cannot broker peace in Afghanistan by military force; it is time to transition toward a plan that builds up civil society and provides economic alternatives for Afghans.”
The letter also calls on President Obama to hold true to his commitment to “begin a responsible but accelerated withdrawal of troops” beginning in July and “continuing along a set timetable.”
Click here to read the letter including the complete list of signatories.
For additional resources on Afghanistan, check out the Spring issue of the Washington Memo newsletter.
September 16, 2010
Eight months have passed since the devastating earthquake in Haiti and progress toward development and reconstruction remains slow. More than 1.5 million people are still living in camps and makeshift shelters in and around Port-au-Prince. U.S. development efforts in Haiti need a plan and a framework that promotes sustainable long term development.
The Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding (HEAR) Act has been introduced in the Senate by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Robert Corker (R-TN) and in the House by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The HEAR Act articulates U.S. priorities for aid to Haiti and sets up benchmarks for success. It also includes a transparent reporting and accountability system so both U.S. taxpayers and Haitians can see where money is going and whether or not it is achieving the desired impact. The bill also includes provisions for strengthening Haitian civil society voices and for ensuring that the Haitian government and the people of Haiti are at the center of development efforts.
The Senate version was marked up and passed by the Foreign Relations Committee but the bill in the House needs more co-sponsors.
Urge your representative to co-sponsor the Haiti Empowerment, Assistance and Rebuilding (HEAR) Act (H.R. 6021).
January 13, 2010
Investing in the health of women, adolescents, and girls is not only the right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do. That is why we are integrating women’s issues as key elements of our foreign policy agenda …We have seen that when women and girls have the tools to stay healthy and the opportunity to contribute to their families’ well-being, they flourish and so do the people around them.
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in remarks on January 8
October 20, 2009
The current public discourse about Afghanistan is largely focused on U.S. national security interest rather than the needs of the Afghan people. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, has requested at least 40,000 additional U.S. troops in order to quell an insurgency. The Obama administration is weighing its options, while many politicians and the U.S. public are wary about committing more resources to a war that has dragged on for more than eight years. A fundamental change in approach is in order. The United States must make genuine efforts to address the underlying causes of poverty, conflict and insecurity. MCC partners in Afghanistan are clear in saying that sustainable economic development can mitigate conflict and bring peace. The United States must work to prioritize these efforts. Unfortunately, even small U.S. efforts for economic development have been militarized through the use of Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs).
A PRT is a military unit with embedded civilian personnel that is responsible for development and reconstruction efforts. The use of PRTs in Afghanistan has become widely accepted as the new model for civil-military cooperation and an interagency approach to economic development. This, however, presents some serious problems and concerns.
In short the use of PRTs raise the following concerns:
- Using the military as tool for development and reconstruction is the wrong tool for the job and works to undermine long term sustainability.
- PRTs divert funds and resources from sustainable development efforts.
- PRTs essentially have the effect of militarizing aid and its use infringes upon humanitarian space.
MCC has produced a brief that outlines the problems with using PRTs in Afghanistan.
Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan (PDF)