The Haitian economy is in tatters, but not for the reasons you might think. Yes, there was all-time-record-breaking devastation from an earthquake in Haiti's capital of Port au Prince and surrounding areas, but the problem now is foreign food and health aid. As I type, donated food is being stashed in warehouses for a future disaster. And then, there is also a problem with the United Nations (UN) and their money, and their spending, and their excesses.
Let's take the U.N. first. Their budget for Haiti of $732.4 million has seen two-thirds of it going for "salaries, perks and upkeep of its own personnel, not the residents of the devastated island:
The world organization plans to spend the money on an expanded force of some 12,675 soldiers and police, plus some 479 international staffers, 669 international contract personnel, and 1,300 local workers, just for the 12 months ending June 30, 2010.As the world out-pouring of donations hits the Haitian soil, the price of food sold by the people is lowered, and the result is that people can't trade or sell their goods.
If food is free local farmers can't sell what they grow.
Desperately poor residents who aren't earthquake victims are moving into refugee camps for the free food and health care. But the government wants residents to be less dependent on foreign aid, not more.Now, here is the story:
Even as many go without meals, relief food that's already made it to Haiti is now being sent to warehouses for future disasters. USAID calls it "prepositioning." The U.N. also says they are scaling back and "repositioning" for future needs.Yet, the article linked above says "hundreds of thousands go hungry."
Haiti says it still needs monetary donations, but they need it for rebuilding the ravaged areas, not for food.
As of today, total donations to Haiti meet and exceed the biggest estimates of how much it will cost to rebuild -- up to $14 billion. The record-breaking Hope for haiti Telethon in January brought in more than $66 million. That's part of the $4 billion raised by non-government groups and charities. The U.S. Government has given more than $1 billion and has pledged another billion-plus. Other countries and world bodies have pledged $8.75 billion over two years. That's $14.9 billion and counting.A suggestion: if you continue sending donations to Haiti, don't send them the U.N.