Washington Post Examines Haiti Rebuilding Challenges

The Washington Post examines the international effort to rebuild Haiti after the January 12 earthquake.

“U.S. lawmakers and international aid officials have expressed mounting concern about the slow recovery of the hemisphere’s poorest country … Despite ambitious plans to ‘build back better,’ as U.N. and U.S. officials promised, the reconstruction has been hobbled by a lack of coordination and cash and by a virtually incapacitated Haitian government, officials and experts say,” according to the article, which outlines the challenges facing the rebuilding effort and the reasons why pledged aid has been slow to reach the country.  

The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) has brought unique obstacles. U.S. officials said Haitian President Rene Preval “was slow to warm” to the IHRC – a “centerpiece” of the rebuilding effort – and the Haitian government took weeks to approve it and “assemble a staff.” Meanwhile, the “commission’s board has held only one meeting. … It still hasn’t named a full-time executive director to run it on a day-to-day basis.” Leslie Voltaire, the Haitian special envoy to the U.N., said, “It’s like Catch-22. I think the donors are waiting for the IHRC to show its capacity. To have capacity, it has to have resources.”

The newspaper notes that the U.S. has not yet disbursed about $900 million of promised aid money, according to http://haitispecialenvoy.org. “Although the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions on short-term emergency aid, the rest of the funds are in a supplemental budget bill that has been held up in Congress by an unrelated dispute over state aid,” the Washington Post writes (Sheridan, 7/19).