Nov 2, 2012

The NGO Republic of Haiti: A Problem of Accountability

Even so, the recovery effort has been so poorly managed as to leave the country even weaker than before. “The billions of dollars in earthquake aid have further marginalized the Haitian state, Haitian social organizations and Haitian businesses,” said Camille Chalmers, a Haitian economist. “They did not benefit and were not involved in how the money was spent. The government of Haiti received only 1 percent of the emergency funds,” barely more than the government of the Dominican Republic, which hardly even felt the quake.
How many times will this be written . . . again and again . . . ? The article, by Kathie Klarreich and Linda Polman, is here, it is worth reading.

The vicious circle is clear: the money does not go to the government because it is weak, and it is weak because it does not have money. And the question is if countries with weak governments can develop, even when governments are so weak that they can not enforce property rights [what is the evidence?]. It might be better to just say: the official aid money goes to the Haitian government, you elect them, good luck! [Individuals should channel their resources as they pleased]. 

The issue IS accountability, and the question is what system can create better mechanisms for accountability: 1) one in which the money goes to NGOs, or 2) one in which the money goes to the government. The advantage of number 2 is that it might strengthen democracy  and bottom-up solutions in the long term. This implies transferring responsibilities to Haitians, government and voters. The alternative is figuring out accountability mechanisms for NGOs, not an easy task [Another one is no official aid money at all, uff . . . I don't know about this one]. [A lot boils down to this: is democracy preferable to any other system?]

The article adds:
A spokesman for one of the largest UN organizations in the country offered a stunningly blunt portrait of this dynamic. Asked whether the government of Haiti has ever told him what to spend donor money on, the spokesman, who insisted on remaining anonymous, said: “Never. They are not in the position, because they are financially dependent. Recently, there was a government press conference. There was nothing ‘government’ about it; we organized it and told them what to say.” He chuckled, then added: “Very sad, really.”
HT: Renate Schneider.

No comments:

Post a Comment