When I nearly fainted in the second camp we visited in Tabarre this Monday, some of the women leaders who live there brought me a Tampico juice right quick. It was sweating, ice cold. How do they get ice? And where do they keep it? Then I thought, Great. They’re running to bring me juice while the 250 families that live here get by on 500 gallons of water a day. That’s the same amount of water in a luxe hotel’s fish tank.
Sitting on one of the wooden benches in a makeshift classroom, I sipped enough of the juice to get my sugar up and gave the rest to a little boy who’d been eying it. Who can blame him. Cloudless sky, big naked sun, scrub grass, one tree, cooking inside plastic tents: it’s white hot out here for Haitians everyday.
Why should the foreigner get camp juice?
I’m smiling, now, at the memory of that little boy with sleep in his eyes still, at mid-day. Specifically I’m thinking that his basic food needs are not being met. There are millions more like him in camps and some even in the cement houses throughout this city, also without potable water. Kiss his and succeeding generations goodbye if the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission (IHRC) doesn’t use these next 18 months to tangibly improve the average Haitian’s day. It’s crunch time.
Never mind the constant and constantly vague pronouncements of what Haiti will be by 2030. By December 2011, the end of the IHRC’s tenure, what specific targets has it promised to deliver? In the language of businessmen, what are the deliverables? I bring up “deliverables” and “by when” dates because I missed them during this week’s six-month evaluation of the relief effort.
According to the media, not much is getting done. As compared to what? I have yet to read any document–press or NGO–that enumerates what exactly was supposed to have been accomplished by the six-month mark.
Suppose the state and the unidentified NGO supplying the camp I visited in Tabarre, have the capacity to distribute 1,000 gallons of water/day? I wouldn’t know because they don’t publicly disclose what’s possible; only what they have done (and can’t do). But many things still do work, here. So what is daily capacity for water works? Sanitation? Garbage pick-up? Latrine installation and cleaning? How many land titles does the state with the aid of the Organization of American States (OAS) have the capacity to resolve per month?
Without specific targets, observers can’t truly gauge how well or poorly the relief effort is going. The absence of deliverables–even discussion around needing them–is not a good precedent as the IHRC gets ready to spend roughly US $250 million/month over the next 18 months. Current complaints about the lack of progress are meaningless, in terms of accountability. No decision-maker ever said that by month six, Haiti would have X,Y, and Z accomplished. This same scenario–the public’s failure to demand officials list tangible deliverables and “by when” dates–should not repeat in December 2011.