Update Assessments of the Effectiveness and Impact of International Aid and Humanitarian Support Following the January 12, 2010 Earthquake
After the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Haiti on January 12, 2010, appeals for humanitarian intervention were issued by many aid organizations as well as the United Nations. Many countries responded to these appeals by immediately launching fund-raising efforts and/or sending search-and-rescue teams to the country’s ravaged capital, Port-au-Prince. To date, the United States, European Union, Canada and several other countries and private institutions have responded and allocated close to 1 billion dollars worth of aid to Haiti for the ongoing critical post-earthquake relief efforts.
Given the impact of the earthquake, the government of Haiti (GOH) is unable to play its role in leading and coordinating the massive international/humanitarian relief effort. Over the past few weeks, aid coordination and effectiveness has become a major concern. In spite of continuing efforts, the majority of the Haitian people are waiting desperately for shelter and food. It is estimated that a total of 1.1 million displaced people in Port-au-Prince, Leogane, Petit Goave, Gressier, and Jacmel are in need of shelter and emergency latrines. Communication between GOH and the citizens of Haiti has been very weak, and communication between the international development agencies and the local partners seems even weaker.
The lack of dialogue and coordination calls into question the transparency. This opacity of the relief effort is hindering its ability to reach the targeted population. Although substantial efforts have been made to distribute aid to those people most affected by the disaster, there are still numerous questions, one month after the earthquake, about the GOH’s plans for the hundreds and thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camping around the capital and in neighboring cities.
What measures are being put in place to help these people who are living in makeshift houses, especially with the rainy season on its way? What mechanisms are in place to demonstrate that the Haitian government and the international partners are both working in a transparent manner to tackles the various challenges? . Why are there still not enough tents, latrines and other vital services for the victims? What are the plans to get people the help they will need in order to rebuild their lives? Why is there a lack of coordination amongst donors, leading to wasteful duplication of efforts? What initiatives are in place to prevent the spread of contagious diseases, such as tuberculosis?
Purpose of the Haiti Civil Society Watch Dog Group
In order to monitor the relief/humanitarian initiatives in Haiti, the Haiti Civil Society watch dog group (the Group) is being proposed to oversee the efficiency and the ongoing impact of the efforts being undertaken. The purpose of the Haiti Civil Society Monitoring Group is to independently track the impact of the relief and humanitarian efforts in Haiti, facilitate communication among partners, encourage the Haitian population to play a more active role in this initiative, and ensure that the majority of the Haitian people really benefit from this aid.
The Group is working with a network of Haitians and international frontline providers with a special focus on medical care, food distribution, and vulnerable groups, such as women and children. The watch dog group believes that the core of the Humanitarian agenda is about saving lives and helping Haitians rebuild their lives. Therefore, it is important to identify a logical point for the analysis of the impact.
Benefits of the program
* Ensure that the aid is getting to Haitian civilians who have been impacted by the earthquake;
* Ensure that the Haitian people own the process of rebuilding their lives as they shift from being victims to survivors and active agent of their communities.
* Promote transparency during the humanitarian and the reconstruction phases using all channel of communication and tools to keep the national and international public inform about progress.
* Encourage the Haitian people to actively engage in the decision-making process of Haiti’s rebuilding processes.
The Group aims to achieve the following objectives:
* Determine which organizations are doing what, where, how and with whom (by communication a donor coordination chart). The watch dog particular focus will be placed on especially vulnerable portions of the population, such as women and children, and sectors, such as medical care and food distribution;
* Monitor and review the indicators that the government and international partners have set in order to achieve key goals and objective. Communicate achievements and set back to the general public.
* Conduct evaluations of the overall situation and publicly communicate and disseminate the results to various communities in Haiti and internationally;
* Identify the bottlenecks that make it difficult for the humanitarian and recovery effort to achieve their goals and share the information with the general public;
* Through different channels of communication, the Group will help the Haitian population stay informed of the decisions being made by the international partners and GOH;
* Mobilize local civil society organizations (CSOs), such as grassroots organizations, church-based and women’s associations, as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and encourage them to engage their community and participate in the ongoing efforts mainly by collecting and by sharing information with the population.
* The platform will have an executive committee whose main responsibility will be to brief the press about the committee’s activities.
* The executive committee will also meet with donors, representatives of international organizations, community leaders, the press and government officials whenever necessary.
* A technical secretariat, as the engine of the Group, will be composed of technicians who are elaborating reports, planning the activities as well as collecting and analyzing information.
The activities of the Group will mainly be to monitor the impact chain (i.e., inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, impacts) of the humanitarian and reconstruction efforts and the following 3 instruments will be used:
1. Map the financial flows
The Group plans to map out who spends what and where, in order to enable the public to better understand how the humanitarian aid is impacting the lives of millions of Haitian people. The group will rely on national and international consulting firms to help analyze the flow of humanitarian aid. What countries are the biggest donors? How is the funding being utilized in the field? How do we know that the Haitian people are truly benefiting from this aid? (The financial flow will be mapped in order to help the general public in Haiti and the Diaspora to understand where the money is going).
2. Provide access to data & info
To promote transparency, the Group will ask the international NGOs, contractors and donors to report on their activities in detail, providing specific data. The data and info would ideally be presented through periodic reports prepared by the donors and implementers. This effort will provide policymakers, stakeholders and journalists with reliable information for their consideration and use. Indicators of the programs (i.e., input process and output indicators) must be known. The immediate impact of such an initiative is to support the establishment of a transparent monitoring reporting system.
3. Encourage debate between the stakeholders
We intend to build a broad network of CSOs to create pressure for transparency in the humanitarian aid flows in Haiti. We will search for evidence to understand the numbers so that we can better discuss the issues with experts, government officials, international partners and policy makers.
A series of debates entitled “Tribune Transparence” will be conducted through major local Haitian commercial radio stations and will be broadcast throughout all of the community radio stations in the country.
Key targeted activities of the Group in the next 3-6 months
1) Identify and communicate to the national and international public a list of organizations that are doing fundraising to implement key activities that would be benefit the victim of the earthquake..
2) Communicate to the public the names of all organizations raising money in the name of ‘Helping Haiti’, and advocate for all organizations to openly and clearly communicate what the raised funds will be use for the victim of the earthquake.
3) Conduct visits of targeted sites (by visiting IDP sites, hospitals, orphanages, distribution sites for food and non-food items) and communicate to the Haitian public the results of the evaluation, which will mention what the donors and their partners are doing in the field and how their activities are affecting the victims.
4) Identify and communicate to the Haitian public the bottlenecks that are being faced by the humanitarian efforts and why in some cases there are a sluggish implementation of activities.
5) Communicate to the Haitian public what the government is doing to better coordinate the efforts of the international and local organizations involved in the relief efforts.
6) Organize public debates with government officials, international NGOs, civil society leaders, and donor representatives to allow the various parties an opportunity to exchange ideas and plans on how they intend to improve the humanitarian effort and future endeavors.
7) Encourage the Haitian people to actively engage in the ongoing efforts by monitoring which organizations are present in their areas and which work with the Group to denounce any type of corruption.
8) Encourage the Haitian media both inside and outside of Haiti, along with the Diaspora, to get involved in the monitoring of the Relief and reconstruction of Haiti.