http://www.thegrio.comBy Garry Pierre-Pierre

12:33 PM on 01/11/2011

Read More: Charity, Donations, Earthquake, Haiti, Haiti One Year Later, Haitian Relief, Money, Rene Preval

Where did all the Haiti relief money go?

In this Jan. 17, 2010 file photo, people walk down a street amid earthquake rubble in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Organizations like the Red Cross have said that because of an ineffectual Haitian government they have had to play roles that they were ill equipped to fill. For instance, the Red Cross said that it has to essentially provide water and sanitation to the Metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. But the Red Cross received more than $1 billion in donations after the earthquake, the largest response in its history.

UNICEF officials said last week that they have provided more than 11,000 latrines, serving more than 800,000 people. In addition some 360,000 insecticide-treated bed nets were distributed to more than 160,000 households in malaria endemic Southern coastal regions.


“We have seen results in the past year, but significant gaps remain and much more must be done,” said Francoise Gruloons-Ackermans, UNICEF’s representative in Haiti. “Haiti poses huge institutional and systemic issues that predated the earthquake and that require more than an emergency response to resolved.”

According to Gruloos-Ackermans, four million children in Haiti still face inequitable access to water, sanitation, health care and protection from disease.

While the aid organizations were tampering their progress with a dose of reality, many Haitians say that part of the problems stem from the fact that projects are designed and implemented with little input from Haitian government officials or Haitians who know what’s going on on the ground. For instance, six weeks before the UN donors’ conference a group of more than 1,700 Haitian community organizers fanned across the country asking villagers and city dwellers what their hopes and aspirations for the development of their country. Most people said that they had a desire for self-determination and direct participation in the rebuilding effort after the earthquake.

“I’m working with a lot of sophisticated people but who have absolutely no notions of what this country is about,” Michelle Montas told Slate recently. Montas, who retired as UN Secretary General’s Ban Ki Moon press secretary came back to work with the UN as a special adviser with the UN mission in Haiti. Even she couldn’t convince the UN brass to incorporate Haitians in their decision making.

“I work at the U.N and every day I have to go to meetings. I”m the only Haitian there, and I have to tell them, ‘your perception is not right.’ I feel that is a lost battle.”