Almost five years after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the United States Congress is using the Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014 to evaluate how U.S. funds are being used in reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
1. The legislation noted that conditions have not improved enough.
Although more than 90 percent of displaced people have been able to leave camps, around 171,974 people still remain in camps. On top of that, corruption is widespread, the business climate is not ideal, unemployment is high and the government is weak.
2. Aid has been slow to materialize.
The United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, has distributed only 31 percent of its reconstruction funds pledged to Haiti. The vision of thousands of new homes has not happened, which has forced earthquake victims to return to existing housing through a rental subsidy program. The June 2013 report by the GAO saw that goals were not being met and projects were very far behind.
3. The act gives Congress the power of monitoring assistance to Haiti.
The act allows Congress to supervise the $3.6 billion that has gone to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act passed in the Senate 15 days earlier and it is awaiting President Obama’s signature to be signed into law.
4. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act of 2014 entails the U.S. Secretary of State submitting an annual report to Congress.
The legislation requires the U.S. Secretary of State to submit an annual report on the condition of development projects and earthquake recovery in Haiti, no later than December 31 each year, through December 31, 2017.
5. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
Nelson, like many others, has expressed fear about the transparency in United States foreign aid, and the slow distribution of aid in Haiti. The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act received bipartisan support and the House passed it with no objection.
6. The legislation was applauded by several groups.
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act has received support from many groups such as the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which provides financial aid to grassroots organizations and agencies in Haiti.
7. The act states that certain promises are to be met by Haiti’s government.
The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act specifically addresses “transparency, a market economy, rule of law, and democracy.” The bill emphasizes that the situation in Haiti does not depict improved conditions and that the country is far behind in reconstruction.
“In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, our government laudably committed a significant amount of aid to help Haiti rebuild, but a lack of transparency made it difficult to understand how U.S. government funds were being used and if recovery efforts were making progress and were being measured,” stated the president of American Jewish World Service, Ruth Messinger. She believes that the “legislation embodies a new commitment to transparency, accountability, and good governance.”
– Colleen Moore
Sources: The Sentinel, McClatchy DC News
Photo: Washington Memo