[permaculture] Aiding Haiti: Let’s get it right this time

carolyn anderson cschampagne at gmail.com
Mon Feb 8 19:54:34 EST 2010

Do you have any suggestions?
I have held back on my donations for exactly the reasons you outline here,
but I don't really know what organizations are worthy of my support.

Carolyn Anderson

On Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM, Permaculture Cooperative <
permaculturecoop at gmail.com> wrote:

>  http://triplecrisis.com/aiding-haiti-lets-get-it-right-this-time/Global
> Perspectives on Finance, Development, and Environment
>  Aiding Haiti: Let’s get it right this
> time<http://triplecrisis.com/aiding-haiti-lets-get-it-right-this-time/>
> Timothy A. Wise <http://ase.tufts.edu/gdae/about_us/researchers.html#wise>
> Before I joined the Global Development and Environment
> Institute<http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/globalization.html
> >
> in
> 1999, I was the executive director at Grassroots
> International<
> http://www.grassrootsonline.org/publications/fact-sheets-reports/feeding-dependency-starving-democracy
> >,
> a Boston-based aid organization.  With a focus on structural change and
> empowerment, Grassroots started an emergency program in Haiti after the
> first ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide in 1991.  Later, we
> watched
> up close as the large US-funded aid effort, after Aristide’s return in
> 1994,
> undermined Haitian government priorities, undercut food production, and
> weakened civil society institutions. The aid empowered foreign aid agencies
> and multinationals rather than Haiti’s people.  We documented the aid
> disaster with a report: “Feeding Dependency, Starving
> Democracy.”<
> http://www.grassrootsonline.org/publications/fact-sheets-reports/feeding-dependency-starving-democracy
> >
> Will history repeat itself in Haiti now?  The outpouring of private aid,
> much of it from the pockets of people in the US, has been encouraging.  But
> what should donors and agencies support if they want to avoid repeating
> history?  Aid goes not to projects or services but first to service
> providers, to agencies themselves.  And aid is power.  Those who get more
> aid end up stronger than those who don’t.  When the crisis is over, who do
> we want to be stronger *as an institution*, and therefore better able to
> address or avert such crises in the future?
> Here are a few guidelines I came up with:
> *1.      **Support agencies that build local capacities and institutions–*
> Some
> aid agencies, including most of the largest and best-known in the US, are
> “operational”, that is, they set up offices in-country and provide services
> themselves, often hiring large numbers of local residents to work for them.
> Operational agencies often weaken local institutions, drawing qualified
> staff out of relatively weak local organizations. Wherever possible,
> support
> agencies that work primarily through local partner institutions.
> *2.      **Support privately funded initiatives, not government contractors
> – *The US government is the largest aid provider in the US and it contracts
> much of that work out to US-based aid agencies.  More than half the budgets
> of many of the largest US-based aid agencies come from the US government.
> So what?  Well, first, private money is relatively less important to such
> efforts, which tend to be multimillion-dollar activities.  Second, those
> agencies naturally tend to be accountable mainly to the US government, not
> to its private donors nor, more important, to the local communities they
> serve.  Third, official US aid programs are among the most political in the
> world, often hewing to State Department objectives and guidelines first and
> humanitarian guidelines and needs second (or third or fourth).
> *3.      **Buy local and support regional economic development –
> *Procurement
> is everything, a massive stimulus program.  The question is, whose economy
> is it going to stimulate? USAID *brags*that 75% of all its aid comes back
> to
> the US – paying US consultants, buying US products, etc. As Ecuador’s
> President
> Rafael Correa said when he visited
> Haiti<http://www.laredosun.us/notas.asp?id=3475>:
> “There is a lot of imperialism among the donors. They donate first, but
> most
> of it goes back to them.”  Government * and *private aid should stimulate
> the Haitian economy.
> *4.      **Agriculture matters – *Sure, Haiti needs food aid right now. It
> also needs agricultural investment and protection for its farmers from the
> low prices caused by food aid and unregulated imports. In the 1990s, food
> aid poured in, trade liberalization opened the borders to subsidized US
> rice, and Haiti’s rice production fell dramatically.
> *5.      **Small is beautiful – *The aid industry is dominated by the
> largest agencies, which compete for and win government contracts.  The last
> things Haiti needs are aid agencies with more resources and power
> in-country
> than the government.
> *6.      **Rebuild government institutions – *Private aid often comes with
> an anti-government bias. Haiti’s government has, quite literally, been
> reduced to rubble. Aid should prioritize efforts to build strong,
> responsive
> government institutions.  Early
> reports<
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/27/AR2010012701897.html
> >
> showed
> precious little funding going to the Haitian government. Aid should also
> respond to Haitian government priorities, such as agricultural development.
> In the 1990s, less than 5% of US aid went to agriculture even though it was
> the government’s highest priority. In the meantime, creditors should cancel
> Haiti’s $891 billion debt <http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50228>,
> not just restructure it.
> * *
> Disasters often generate strong movements for social change, and the
> recovery effort itself is important not only economically but politically.
> This time, let’s not feed dependency and starve democracy.
> Note: The Center for Economic and Policy Research has launched a new
> blog: Haiti:
> Relief and Reconstruction
> Watch<http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/
> >
> .
> Nicholas Roberts & Kirstie Stramler
> Denmark 36 96 49 02
> Australia 02 8003 6993
> USA 310 598 2989
> Permaculture Cooperative
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