Aid Groups in Haiti Criticized for Not Spending Fast Enough

Although billions of dollars have been donated to charities involved in relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, more than 1.5 million Haitians remain homeless four months after the quake struck, raising questions about why the money isn't being spent faster, CBS News reports.

Roughly $14.9 billion, or $37,000 per displaced family, has been donated for Haiti earthquake relief efforts to date, much of it raised by the American Red Cross, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and the Clinton Foundation Haiti Fund. The Red Cross, for example, has raised $444 million and spent about 25 percent of that amount; CARE has raised $34.4 million and spent about 16 percent of that; CRS has raised $165 million and spent 8 percent; and the Clinton Bush fund and Clinton Foundation have raised $52 million combined, of which 13 percent has been spent.

Mark Weisbrot, a former economic consultant to the Haitian government, is one of the people who ha been critical of aid groups for not doing more to address the short-term needs of Haitians affected by the quake. If they have the money, said Weisbrot, charities should be spending it now. For their part, charity officials argue that they have already helped millions of people and would be criticized if they spent too much money up front, leaving little to address the long-term challenges the Caribbean nation is sure to face. "At the same time we move quickly," said CARE assistant country director Gary Philoctete, "we move also prudently with spending the funds so that we ensure that the investment is made prudently."

Aware of concerns that money raised for Haiti could be spent elsewhere, the Red Cross offered an assurance that all funds raised for Haiti will be spent on earthquake relief efforts. "Minus the nine cents overhead, ninety-one cents on the dollar will be going to Haiti," said Red Cross president and CEO Gail McGovern. "I give you my word and my commitment. I'm banking my integrity, my personal sense of integrity, on that statement."

Sharyl Attkisson. "Following the Aid Money to Haiti." CBS News 05/12/2010.