Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Billions in Haiti aid, pennies in progress since 2010 earthquake

On January 12, 2010 a 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince and the surrounding suburbs for 35 seconds, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing approximately 1.5 million. Immediately after news of the earthquake reached global airwaves, an unprecedented amount of money began to pour in from international donors, charities, and various aid organizations. The U.S. government was the biggest contributor, pledging $3.6 billion to the relief and reconstruction effort in Haiti.

But progress in Haiti is slow and reconstruction efforts are lacking at best. It has now been four years since the earthquake and many are asking: how has the money been spent?

The first challenge was to provide shelter for the hundreds of thousands of Haitians made homeless by the earthquake. The United States and other international donors planned for large housing projects to build homes and create jobs in a nation that has been plagued with extremely high unemployment rates for years. USAID initially planned to build 15,000 new homes, but so far has only built 7,515, citing issues with acquiring land titles as one of the main reasons housing projects had to be scaled back.

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