May 8, 2010
The new website that tracks how and who spends the US$9.9 billion in donor pledges is good news. But applauding the UN and the Haitian government’s transparency effort would be like congratulating a parent for acting like one so I won’t go there. One clue as to how ineffective this site may be however, comes from the UN’s top man on the island:
“It also provides a portal through which the people of Haiti can monitor use of the funds and hold their elected representatives accountable for how those funds are spent.”
Half the Haitian population is illiterate. And it’s fair to presume that the remaining literate portion won’t spend regular time online in at least the next year or two. Second major point, with the exception of the president and the prime minister there are no elected representatives on the 21-member [SEE UPDATE BELOW] reconstruction commission tasked with rebuilding Haiti over the next 2-3 years. So this site can’t possibly be for “the people of Haiti”–which means, the Haitian diaspora has to step up. This site will only be as informative and effective as the media and ordinary people force it to be.
June 2010 Update: elected reps do sit on the, now, 28-member reconstruction commission. Voting members include 12 Haitians and 12 international representatives of the major donor countries. Four members, including one representing the diaspora, hold seats but can not vote. Click here for the finalized list. This should quell early fears that Haiti’s elected government won’t lead the reconstruction, no? It seems that Haitians, through their elected representatives, will have a say in the reconstruction.
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April 23, 2010
I heard through HAG (eh hem, the Haitian activist grapevine) about a site similar to DH, Koze Ayiti out of the Knight Center for International Media at the University of Miami. It looks like we have the same basic goal of producing original news and analysis about Haiti. But there’re enough differences to make a potential partnership interesting. I hope this find confirms TFTH’s position that post-earthquake media coverage of Haiti is not only unprecedented, it’s different:
Never have I seen such intensive coverage of a disaster response effort. I am not talking about coverage of the disaster itself – images of crumbled buildings and people weeping for their dead and talking heads going on about numbers. I am talking about coverage of aid agencies and issues in the response.
That’s hot. Problems arise with media coverage too (i.e. so much ignorance you want to slap the reporter) so read the full post to get the gist. But all in all, this supposed development is a great thing for aid and government accountability.
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April 13, 2010
At Kelly Ingram Park in 1963 police commissioner Bull Connor urged his men to let whites near the demonstrations. "I want them to see the dogs work," he said.
“…better coordination among aid providers, more transparency about where and how they are spending our money, and more participation of earthquake victims in the planning and execution of earthquake response projects.”
Call me a cynical journalist but how effective can a petition be if it’s addressed to 10 different people representing 10 different organizations with 10 different missions, bureaucracies and funding levels? The petition organizers, the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, explain why they’re targeting so many people–from World Vision to USAID to Bill Clinton–but in diffusing responsibility it seems IJDH inadvertently diffuses accountability as well.
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