A lot of our time and effort goes toward helping relief efforts in Haiti and other countries in need, so excuse me if this sounds like a rant. The following article truly disgusted me. The article breaks down how only a tiny amount out of several billion dollars in donations ever made it to help Haitians. This is appalling and shameful, and shouldn’t be allowed to happen. There needs to be a giant uproar over this to correct the situation, otherwise donors may not help in future crises. The good news is I believe there’s a fairly simple solution that could prevent this from happening again. I’ve outlined my “power to the people” proposal below after an excerpt from the article.
“Haiti, a close neighbor of the US with over nine million people, was devastated by earthquake on January 12, 2010. Hundreds of thousands were killed and many more wounded.
The UN estimated international donors gave Haiti over $1.6 billion in relief aid since the earthquake (about $155 per Haitian) and over $2 billion in recovery aid (about $173 per Haitian) over the last two years.
Yet Haiti looks like the earthquake happened two months ago, not two years. Over half a million people remain homeless in hundreds of informal camps, most of the tons of debris from destroyed buildings still lays where it fell, and cholera, a preventable disease, was introduced into the country and is now an epidemic killing thousands and sickening hundreds of thousands more.
It turns out that almost none of the money that the general public thought was going to Haiti actually went directly to Haiti. The international community chose to bypass the Haitian people, Haitian non-governmental organizations and the government of Haiti. Funds were instead diverted to other governments, international NGOs, and private companies.
Haitians ask the same question as many around the world “Where did the money go?””
Owen: So where did the money go? Hint — very little donated funds ever made it to those who need help. I say it’s time to change this corrupt system. Donors and recipients deserve a fair, honest, transparent system with accountability. I’d like to see a fair system For the People, By the People. I’ve outlined a few ideas below how a system like this might work.
– Utilize and replicate successful systems such as Kiva microfinance, which have a proven track record and pass on 100% of the proceeds to recipients.
– Encourage donations to hundreds of small to medium sized organizations, with an emphasis on local NGOs that have good track records of success (although people can donate to any group they wish).
– All participating aid organizations must present a plan to show how the bulk of their donations will be spent.
– All participating aid organizations must provide quarterly reports by Certified Public Accounts using agreed upon reporting standards. Continued support will hinge on the group’s success in meeting targeted goals.
– Set limits for what percentage of donations can be spent on administration expenses such as cars, cell phones, computers, offices, travel, etc. (Say, 1-3%.)
– Encourage participating aid organizations to raise administration donations separately. For example, a group could raise money within their community to cover their administrative expenses. Donations from the general public would go directly to aid those in need.
– Encourage volunteers, student groups and internships.
In summary, the main idea is not to allow what happened in Haiti to take place again. It’s far better in my opinion to donate to small, lean groups who are highly focused, whose members can pay their own travel expenses and bring their own computers and cell phones rather than channel all the money through a few large groups. Creating an atmosphere of trust is paramount, and the current system needs to be changed immediately.