Sunday, August 22, 2010
Hello CBC The Sunday Edition,
Your host introduced today's story on Pakistan by noting the small amount of flood relief the country has received. She contrasted this to what she said was substantial aid delivered to Haiti since the earthquake last January. This contrast is misleading. While it is true that large amounts of money were pledged for Haiti in the post-earthquake period, most of its remains undelivered. Patterns of international neglect exist equally for Pakistan and Haiti.
At the UN Donors Conference for Haiti on March 31, US$5.3 billion was pledged by foreign governments, ngo’s and UN agencies to their respective operations in Haiti for the forthcoming 18 months. Only a fraction of that has been delivered to date.
At the same conference, some US$510 million was pledged to the UN-sponsored Haiti Reconstruction Fund. Only $67 million has been received. Canada, the U.S. and France have not paid a dime to the Fund.
Haiti is in desperate need of construction and earthmoving equipment for the simple task of clearing rubble. Believe it or not, nearly all of the rubble from the earthquake still lies where it was sitting the day after. Emergency shelter is still urgently needed. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians are still living under scraps of wood, plastic and corrugated metal. Many of the camps where they live lie in pools of stagnant water and waste, with all the accompanying public health menace. You can read a compilation of reports from the world’s media on these conditions on the website of the Canada Haiti Action Network, http://canadahaitiaction.ca/.
Where is the reconstruction and the “new Haiti” that all the world talked about in the days and weeks after the earthquake? It is nowhere to be seen. And where is the accountability for all the funds either spent or promised? It is similarly missing, or inadequate.
I recently wrote an article summarizing Canada’s promised aid to Haiti. You can read it here: http://canadahaitiaction.ca/content/canadas-failed-aid-haiti. In the article, I call Canada’s aid “failed aid” because it has not provided anything close to the substantial assistance that Haitians so desperately need. To take one example, of the $220 million in matching funds that the government has promised to Haiti, only $65 million has been delivered, and that to large agencies only, among them ones identified by many observers as the least able to deliver timely aid directly to victims.
Overall, Canada’s aid to Haiti is far less than is claimed. It is especially lacking in hard goods, such as earthmoving equipment and personnel to assist in removing rubble, durable shelter, and buildings to house schools, medical centers and centers for food and water distribution.
Nor has aid respected the sovereignty of the Haitian people. Almost all Canadian and other foreign aid to Haiti is flowing to foreign charities, ngo’s and government agencies, not to the national government.
One vitally important way to counter patterns of neglect or indifference facing countries struck by natural disasters is to provide information on needs and shortcomings. I am disappointed that The Sunday Edition has aired only one story on Haiti’s earthquake, the interview with the inspirational Paul Farmer back in February. A pattern of neglect and indifference is firmly entrenched in Haiti that will condemn the country and large numbers of its people to many years of living in squalid and discouraging conditions unless more people in Canada become informed on the issue and act accordingly to change whatever shortcomings in Canadian government policy that we perceive. The CBC has a duty to better inform Canadians on this issue.
One place to start would be to examine the flawed presidential national election set for November 28. Haiti’s largest and most representative political party, the Fanmi Lavalas of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has been banned from participation in the election by the unconstitutional electoral authority of the country. Nowhere is this news reported in Canada. How can Haiti rebuild without a representative and effective president and national government? And what is the purpose of holding this national election if it will only increase division and tension within the country, not to speak of rich vs. poor conflict? Why are Canada and other big powers in Haiti supporting such a flawed process?
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