December 18, 2010
Haitian diaspora gathering in Washington, DC, March 2010 -- was that the last one?
Editor’s Note: You require transparency from us but none from yourselves. That’s the charge leveled at USAID by Liberia’s finance minister (and a couple of other people), at a recent Brookings Institution panel on the lack of transparency among aid organizations. Haiti’s finance minister probably feels the same way. As poorly as Haiti ranks on the corruption index the US ranks near the bottom in international aid transparency. And what comes out of this panel is that while we’re great at measuring other governments’ corruption, we apparently suck at competently measuring ourselves, the donors. Read on for the Liberian minister’s edited remarks, which also raise the question, is the Haitian diaspora lobbying Congress to improve USAID?
Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, minister of finance, Liberia I concur fully with the assessment … that aid transparency is a necessary condition for effectiveness…. Liberia is a highly aid-dependent country. I don’t want to go through the history of civil war, the destruction, and the reconstruction efforts. As we speak we receive more flows to the country through aid than even our domestic revenue. [And] although the amount of [aid passing] through our budget [had] been very insignificant–around 2-5 percent–it has gradually gone up to 15 percent. We are hoping that as we improve our country’s systems, more donors can use them.
Now, [however]… we have a situation where most donors want to use parallel [NGO] systems [and not] government systems. [But] the parallel systems [have to] give us better development outcomes … otherwise, the moral justification of using the parallel system does not exist.
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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 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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