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General News

Port-au-Prince Still Buried Under the Rubble of Competing NGOs

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Over 1.8 million dollars in interest was reportedly raised by just 5 of the survey respondents. 10 groups reported that they did not know how much interest they have raised and the rest (23 groups) did not respond either way, indicating that this figure is likely higher, the report says.

OXFAM did better than most in response to the questionnaire submitted by DAP. It says that out of $97 million raised for Haiti earthquake relief, $66 million has been disbursed for Haiti relief. 500 staff members are currently working in country. Regarding the interest question, OXFAM says, "current interest rates in secure, short-term investments are at or close to 0%. As a result, no significant income has been generated."

Zero percent?

Another pressing question, given the cholera epidemic, $66 million from OXFAM, the total humanitarian assistance earmarked for cholera from USAID of $40,802,413, and millions donated to other NGOs is: "Where is the infrastructure for clean water and sanitation?"

Water purification tablets are nothing more than a band-aid.

The answer might lie with the Haitian Grassroots organization, Ayiti Kale Je , which suggests the term NGO is a misnomer, "since many are direct subcontractors of the United States and other governments," making them Haiti's largest employer.

This video on the "cash for work" program is very revealing.

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The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund promise of $3.4 million in new grants and investments, if the money enhances the Haitian private sector, offers some hope.

Gary Edson, CEO of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund says "While we as a global community must continue to alleviate the Haitian people's unacceptable pain, we must also take clear aim at the country's underlying problems, by offering Haitians the tools and resources they need to build a sustainable economy - one that will help heal their country from within and put Haiti on a path to prosperity."

To date, the Fund has raised over $52 million, of which more than $20 million has been committed, "the vast majority to projects that further the Fund's mission of promoting economic growth and empowerment." A full list of the Fund's grants and investments can be found here.

Honestly not wanting to be cynical and sincerely wanting these programs to succeed--looking at the organizations that "benefit" from the Clinton Bush Fund--one sees the list of usual suspects of foreign NGOs and religious organizations.

What ever happened to UN Special Envoy  Clinton's promises  to the farmers who supply the sugar mill in Darbonne when he visited last June? The mill is still languishing.

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Each worker in Haiti cares for an average of 8 people. Since the Darbonne mill has 250 employees and currently works with over 1,000 farmers, the revitalization of the Darbonne Mill translates into the participation of over 30,000 farmers, resulting in a direct positive economic impact on over 240,000 people. If successful, the sugar mill will reduce food imports by 10 percent and reduce South American sugar imports by as much as 40 percent.

Money for this project would demonstrate real progress and would go a long way toward getting the Haitian agricultural economy up and running and removing the obvious stranglehold of foreign interests.

I visited the Darbonne mill in May and can tell you that it rivals any mill currently operating in Louisiana. More than that, the pride of operation speaks volumes about what Haitians can accomplish on their own if only given the opportunity.

Support the Haitian private sector and stop the influence of dueling NGOs, spare us all of the interminable reports, and help move Haiti forward. All that is lacking is real commitment on the part of the international donor community. 

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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota, New Orleans and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill (more...)

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