Florida Congresswoman “Deeply Concerned” Over USAID Efforts in Haiti

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Above: US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she is “deeply concerned” over a new report about US reconstruction efforts in Haiti.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, released a Government Accountability Office report on the US’ efforts in Haiti, revealing what she called a “troubling lack of progress and accountability.”

“I’m deeply concerned about the findings of the most recent GAO report on U.S. assistance for reconstruction efforts in Haiti,” she said in a statement. “More than three years after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, we find that much of the assistance that the U.S. has provided Haiti for reconstruction efforts has suffered from ineffective stewardship on the part of USAID. This level of performance is unacceptable, and the people of Haiti deserve better.”

Last year, Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Middle east and North Africa Subcommittee, and ranking member Howard Berman, a Democrat, asked the GAO to investigate reconstruction efforts in the Caribbean country, particularly those related to shelters and the Caracol Industrial Park in Haiti, in which the US is a partner.

According to the report, USAID had downscaled its housing plans by 80 percent, with just 2649 houses expected to be built out of 15,000 planned, she said, and a port facility originally expected to be built by 2015 could take “as long as 10 years to complete.”

The revised housing plans would mean that around 16,000 Haitians, as opposed to the initial estimate of 90,000, would receive housing support.

“The people of Haiti have suffered greatly and remain in great need of our assistance, so I urge this Administration to ensure that our reconstruction efforts bring about the positive results that are intended,” she said. “A key finding of this report is the lack of forthcoming information from State and USAID officials regarding the inadequate use of U.S. taxpayer dollars. It is imperative that programs supported by U.S. taxpayers receive the appropriate oversight and accountability in order to achieve maximum results.”