Where Has All the Money Gone?
Since the 2010 earthquake, almost $6 billion has been disbursed in official aid to Haiti, a country with a population of just under 10 million. An estimated $3 billion has been donated to NGOs in private contributions in addition to official aid. The United States Government alone has disbursed almost $2 billion of this total amount and has pledged over $3 billion for relief and reconstruction.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private contractors have been the intermediate recipients of most of these funds. The Government of Haiti has received just 1 percent of humanitarian aid and somewhere between 15 and 21 percent of longer-term relief aid. As a result, NGOs and private contractors in Haiti have built an extensive infrastructure for the provision of social services. Yet, these entities appear to have limited accountability; despite the use of public funds, there are few evaluations of services delivered, lives saved, or mistakes made. Most importantly, Haitians are disillusioned with the overall lack of progress, and with the lack of transparency and accountability.
It is likely that NGOs and private contractors will continue to dominate service provision in Haiti for some time to come. In light of this fact, we recommend three options to improve the current situation. One: NGOs and private contractors carry out systematic and widely-accessible evaluations of their work. Two: All actors in Haiti be held accountable by publishing data on expenditures and outcomes in Haiti. The International Aid Transparency Initiative may be the perfect vehicle for this and the Unites States government should require NGOs (and possibly private contractors) to report to IATI. IATI compliance might eventually be a prerequisite for receiving US funds. And three: The Government of Haiti procure services through competitive bidding whenever possible, in order to maintain service delivery while building local capacity over the longer term.