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Assessing Optimal Aid To Haiti After Hurricane Matthew

Assessing Optimal Aid To Haiti After Hurricane Matthew

The eye of Hurricane Matthew made landfall on the Carolinas on October 7th and the storm’s effects in North Carolina are still being felt a week later. The wicked storm reportedly killed 23 people and caused billions of dollars in damage.

In Haiti, where the hurricane made landfall days earlier, the cleanup and rehabilitation processes are guaranteed to be much more difficult. In Haiti, where official death counts have reached upwards of 100,000 (with many suggesting it may be significantly higher), officials have resorted to burying people in mass graves as the death count has climbed exponentially.

The hurricane’s damage is especially devastating to the tiny island nation of Haiti because it has barely recovered from the 2010 earthquake that hit its capital, Port-au-Prince. The 5.7 magnitude earthquake killed 400,000 Haitians, and in its aftermath, left three million people without food, shelter, water and electricity. As of now, after the hurricane, 770,000 people are still living in emergency shelters.

Progress to restore Haiti’s infrastructure and civil services has been slow moving, however. A 2012 report found that Haiti’s infrastructure, especially public health buildings, had barely recovered. It is estimated that a quarter of all hospitals were destroyed thanks to the natural disaster.

The lack of hospitals and clean water accelerated the spread of an outbreak of cholera.  Cholera, a disease spread by fecal-oral contact, was previously nearly eradicated in Haiti, but as of 2016, an estimated 770,000 people have died. New cases are still reported every month.

While relief efforts are finally picking up speed because of increased public attention to the crisis, there is still much to be done. The issue for many Americans is now where to donate to speed these efforts.

President Obama announced on October 7th in an official statement from the White House, that Americans should donate to the Red Cross to aid the recovery process. Unfortunately, he was wrong, at least according to Haitians’ own requests.

Accordingly, the Red Cross has had issues with aid distribution in Haiti. A 2015 ProPublica Investigation found that the organization had received 500 million dollars for Haitian relief, and had built only six new homes since the earthquake. It was later found that the organization spent 25% of donations on “Internal Affairs,” meaning expenses such as salaries and even end-of-year bonuses. This has warranted it a two star financial rating on Charity Navigator.

The same report scathingly cites issues with the organization such as false claims of success, an over reliance on foreigners who couldn’t speak local languages like French or Creole, and internal fighting.

Many Haitian relief workers are frustrated with the Red Cross and have stated publicly that they don’t want donations from the Red Cross, according to an article published on October 13th by the Washington Post.

The solution, according to Haitians, is to donate to smaller Haiti-based charities and local organizations. This is because Haitian organizations are more likely to understand logistics and how to reach remote communities, according to Samuel Darguin, the executive director of the Haitian American Caucus.

The St. Boniface Haiti Foundation provides assistance for people in isolated parts of the country. It runs several local clinics and hospitals across Haiti, and 2016 marks the tenth consecutive year that Charity Navigator has awarded St. Boniface a four star rating for sound fiscal management.

Food for the Poor provides food, water, and emergency supply donations shipped from the US directly to Haitian emergency workers. Donors can provide any amount they wish.

The Gaskov Clerge Foundation has been designated as an official facilitator for relief efforts in Haiti, and focuses on providing medical examinations, as well as coordinating with the local Ministry of Health Officials in Haiti.

In general, before donating, it is imperative to check Charity Navigator. The site allows donors to see where exactly their money will go within the organization. Charity Navigator has also published a list of the ten best practices for donors.

- Claudia Franke

Photo: Flickr


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