BY DEREK LAWRENCE
In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, one should question whether the $64,456,068 in American tax dollars is actually going to help the nations it is intended for. The last time the United States attempted to “aid” countries like Haiti after a massive natural disaster, we ended up with scandals galore and an economy that is seemingly more dependent on aid than it is on production. At least that is what the perpetually declining growth rate would suggest.
A few examples of “aid” scandals:
• International donors buying their way onto the Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission, sparking outrage from Haitian natives, for fear of neoliberal influence. A consultant contracted by the commission even being quoted saying “Look, you have to realize the IHRC [commission] was not intended to work as a structure or entity for Haiti or Haitians. It was simply designed as a vehicle for donors to funnel multinationals’ and NGOs’ project contracts.”
• The Red Cross, with only 15 employees in Haiti, pulling almost $500 million in donations, yet only allocating just over $100 million for Haitian relief. Claiming to have provided homes for over 130,000 people, yet only building 6?
• 80% of basic services in Haiti being provided by international NGOs, with 43 cents of every relief dollar going to NGOs, 33 cents going to the US military, and less than 1 cent going to the actual Haitian government.
• And let us not forget the incident that started distrust of American Haiti relief programs. The subsidies that President Clinton enacted which crippled the Haitian ag industry by giving billions to his home state rice farmers and strong armed Haiti into importing it at rock bottom prices.
With NGOs being designed specifically to be perpetually necessary, should we not try and use them sparingly? They are extremely important for short run relief, but long term, they have no incentive to create a self sustainable economy in a country, Having no stockholders or investment, they need not worry about if the country continues to grow, only if the country continues to need them there. NGO employees need to make sure they keep a job. Regardless if you think they are all moral ideologues or not, they all rely on a paycheck. Proven by the inefficient hiring processes of the Red Cross mentioned in the NPR story.
Maybe we should be looking into a more even mix of short term “aid” along with long term “investment”. Providing capital investments and private companies for the citizens to work with, we provide them a starting point for self sufficiency. We want to help them up, not hold them down and pour water down their throat, after all. The old adage about teaching a man to fish comes to mind.