Five years have passed since the Haitian earthquake shattered the nation on Jan. 12, 2010. The earthquake triggered an outpouring of international aid – Haiti’s neighboring country, the Dominican Republic, coordinated early medical relief, and organizations such as the U.S. Red Cross soon followed.
However, in the years following the earthquake, it has become increasingly evident that US foreign aid efforts have been far more corrupt than beneficial. From the outside, the $1.6 billion in US aid seems like a fair amount; the downfall is that surprisingly little of it has actually reached the Haitian people. According to the Associated Press, a third of the money found its way back to the American government as a reimbursement for sending in the US military, and another 40 percent has gone to non-Haitian charities and privately owned organizations – such as the Pan American Health Organization – which in turn only invest a portion of the money in actual relief and recovery.
To put this into perspective, Haitian companies and non-governmental groups were given only 2.5 percent of all US aid, and the Haitian government received a mere 1 percent of aid.
After the quake, aid agencies eagerly set to building clinics, but the Haitian government – with only 1 percent of the funding – fell short, and could not find the money to pay for the much-needed doctors.
Additionally, as reported by the Global Research Centre, former U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton amassed a total of $54 million in donations, and proceeded to spend $2 million on the building of the Royal Oasis – a five-star luxorious Haitian hotel, on the grounds that it would generate employment.
Meanwhile, according to the Center of Disaster Philanthropy, 60 percent of Haitians live on less than $1.25 a day, and hundreds of thousands are homeless, staying at campsites with limited water access, poor conditions and a cholera epidemic. While it is true that without any aid, Haiti would be struggling even more to get back on its feet, much of the U.S.’s money was unfortunately misplaced or misused.
Cases of foreign aid fraud can also be seen in Africa, where the U.S. sends aid to a total of 47 countries. Unfortunately, this aid does not seem to be doing its job; according to international economist Dambisa Moyo, the per-capita income has continued to drop since the 1970s, and over half the population lives on under $1 a day.
“I think that before donating, people should know exactly what their money is going to go and be able to see how their aid is going to affect others,” Sophomore Stephanie Simon said.