After a devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people in Haiti on January 12, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that there could be dire consequences "if the effort to rebuild is slow or insufficient, if it is marked by conflict, lack of coordination, or lack of transparency." At a March 31 UN conference, the international community pledged $5.3 billion dollars for 2010–11 to help Haiti "build back better," with the United States pledging $1.15 billion.
Yet excluding debt relief, the governments and international institutions that promised to help Haiti rebuild have disbursed just $1.28 billion of the pledges they made at the UN conference, according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti. The United States has disbursed only $120 million of its pledge, according to Office of the Special Envoy’s most recent update.
Of the European Community’s pledge of $294 million for 2010-11, it had paid $97.2 million, or about a third, by December 2010. Canada, which was originally reported to have pledged $375 million for Haiti’s reconstruction, had disbursed only $55.3 million by December 2010. Meanwhile, France has delivered less than a quarter of the $30 million it pledged to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, according to the fund’s website.
A scathing recent report by Oxfam found that "neither the Haitian state nor the international community is making significant progress in reconstruction," and called this lack of progress "deeply disappointing." The report, which cited donor governments’ slow progress on delivering on UN pledges, urged donors to "release funds promised at the New York conference in March 2010 and improve transparency related to pledges and disbursements."
The private relief sector, which also made pledges at the UN conference, has also been slow in delivering aid to Haiti. Of the $1.4 billion private American donors gave charities to help Haitians after the earthquake, a Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of sixty major relief organizations published on January 6 showed that just 38 percent of the donations had been spent.
The Washington, DC–based American Red Cross (ARC) alone raised $479 million through its Haiti earthquake appeals. In an email to The Nation on January 11, ARC spokesperson Julie Sell stated that "We are now at about $200m spent." But that’s less than half of what the organization raised. ARC projects that it will have signed contracts by the time of the anniversary of the January 12 quake to spend $78 million more. But for now, Sell says the remaining millions are being kept in "short-term, conservative government-backed investments. Any interest generated will be spent on Haiti," she added.