After the devastating earthquake of 2010, the American Red Cross has raised nearly half a billion dollars to help Haiti. But according to a survey published by the ProPublica and NPR investigative journalism websites, “the organization has chained the failures on the ground “, and grossly exaggerated the amounts allocated to the reconstruction of the country. Thus, although the organization claimed to have provided housing to more than 130,000 people, only 6 permanent houses would have been truly built.
As a reminder, after the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, the Haitian authorities have counted 300,000 deaths (figures contested since by the USAID whose estimate, from 46,000 to 85,000 people, remains considerable) and 1 , 5 million (880,000 according to USAID) of homeless people. According to the Guardian , 60,000 people still live in tents …
“Humanitarian organizations all over the world have encountered difficulties in helping Haiti, but the Red Cross is directly responsible for the majority of its failures,” the newspaper said.
Difficult to wash your hands ” when there is neither water nor soap”
At the end of 2011, a major revitalization project was launched in the neighborhood of Campêche, in the heart of Port-au-Prince, the capital. ” A better life in my neighborhood” was the title of this program, which included the construction of several hundred permanent houses. Yet “no one has yet emerged from the land to this day. Many residents live in rusty metal huts without access to safe drinking water, electricity or basic sanitation,” ProPublica says. .
Much of their failure lies in the expertise of construction projects and the lack of concrete improvements in living conditions. For example, the Red Cross preferred hand hygiene awareness campaigns, but internally these measures were ultimately found to be “ineffective when people did not have water or soap”.
“They have collected almost half a billion dollars,” a parliamentarian who took part in the supervision of operations in Haiti reported, “but they had a problem, and that was their total lack of expertise.”
Socio-economic difficulties that do not explain everything
The Red Cross says all the NGOs present in Haiti have faced difficulties, notably because of a dysfunctional land ownership system.
“Like many humanitarian organizations that have supported Haiti, the American Red Cross has faced some complications, including delays in government coordination, land conflicts, slow Haitian customs, Strong demand for skilled personnel and the explosion of the cholera epidemic, “the group defended.
The investigation signed by ProRepuplica and NPR confirms that other organizations have encountered the same type of difficulties, particularly in terms of land, but “the fact that Haiti is a complex working environment does not explain everything “, since The other organizations, which have raised far fewer funds, would still have managed to build 9,000 homes.
“The image of the group”, a paramount parameter for the Red Cross
According to Lee Malany, head of the emergency shelter program in 2010, “they were more interested in projects that would provide them with advertising than with those that would enable them to build a large number of homes.”
For example, when it claims to have provided homes to more than 130,000 people, this actually includes thousands of individuals who have simply been “trained in construction techniques.”
In its promotional literature, the Red Cross claims to have helped “more than 4.5 million” Haitian citizens to “get back on their feet” , yet providing no evidence of what it is advancing. Jean-Max Bellerive, Prime Minister of Haiti at the time of the earthquake, doubts the veracity of this figure since the total population of the country amounts to only about ten million people.
Paradox and Misunderstanding
On Friday, the Red Cross still wanted to explain in a statement. She said that “she has used other methods to improve the daily lives of the disaster victims, and that donations have helped to build eight hospitals and clinics, stem a cholera epidemic, provide clean water and Sanitation, and repair roads and schools. “
For its part, the Thomson Reuters Foundation has learned that at least 17% of the funds raised for Haiti have been spent on running costs, while the American Red Cross and the International Red Cross say that for a dollar raised, 91 Cents must be devoted to the humanitarian mission.