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Report Finds “Troubling” Lack of Transparency in US Aid to Haiti

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - April 4, 2013

Above: Port-au-Prince (CJ Photo)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

There are “significant” problems in the way the United States delivers aid to Haiti, according to a report from the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research.

The report, Breaking Open the Black Box: Increasing Aid Transparency and Accountability in Haiti, found an “overall lack of transparency on how the billions of dollars obligated for US assistance to Haiti are being used.”

“Billions in U.S. aid money are going to Haiti with little transparency to ensure that it is being used effectively,” said CEPR research associate Jake Johnston, who co-authored the report with senior associate for international policy Alexander Main. “The situation for many people in post-quake Haiti is especially daunting, but for USAID it has been business as usual. No care has been taken to ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being best utilized in Haiti.”

“Contractors have hired far fewer Haitians than promised, Haitian businesses were largely excluded, goals were not met, there was inadequate supervision of grantees, and USAID had not conducted internal financial reviews of contractors,” the organization said in a release.

The report urged the US to make data available on subcontractors used for USAID projects, ensuring that contractors comply with US federal regulations and increasing direct contracting to Haitian entities.

It also urged the government to make all information on aid programmes “accessible to Haitians,” including through the use of Creole translations.

“Without transparency, not only is it impossible for U.S. taxpayers to know what is being done with their money, but the Haitian government and the Haitian people have little opportunity to ensure that U.S.-funded projects actually assist Haiti in rebuilding and dealing with ongoing urgent humanitarian needs,” paper co-author Alex Main said.

Click here to read the full report.

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