More than a year after a devastating earthquake in Haiti brought international aid organizations rushing to the impoverished Caribbean nation's side, local government officials and many of the groups themselves are questioning the effectiveness of their efforts, the Washington Post reports.
In addition to questions about the sustainability of many projects, concerns have been raised about NGO effectiveness. Haitian officials, for instance, complain that NGOs have become a sort of parallel government characterized by poor coordination, high turnover, and a lack of transparency, while Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive has said that while foreign NGOs are a necessity in Haiti, their presence may undermine long-term recovery efforts. Indeed, many of the 800,000 Haitians living in squalid refugee camps believe that NGOs are exploiting their misery to raise funds for themselves rather than to help Haitians escape poverty.
A common concern voiced by Haitian officials is that international NGOs have come in and sidelined local institutions rather than partner with them. Contributing to the problem is a lack of faith in the Haitian government, which received a score of 146 out of 178 in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index.
At the same time, NGO officials are becoming more willing to admit that fundamental mistakes have been made by aid groups and multilateral agencies during the reconstruction process. A report by the international aid group Oxfam, for example, stressed that while Haitian authorities need to show greater strategic leadership, the international community needs to do much more to support the efforts and capacity of Haitian institutions.
"It is true that a major, major challenge for the NGO community in Haiti has been coordination," said Sylvain Groulx, head of the mission for Doctors without Borders. "We all need to ask ourselves, honestly, how have we done."