Via IRIN: Will Hurricane Matthew reset Haiti’s aid relationships? Excerpt:
Observers such as former Haiti correspondent and author Jonathan Katz argue that it’s the interference of foreign NGOs that has contributed to Haiti’s weak institutions and government and that they must now move towards forging long-term local partnerships and empowering Haitians to lead their own recovery process.
Research by Mark Schuller, an associate professor at Northern Illinois University and author of “Humanitarian Aftershocks in Haiti”, in eight camps where people displaced by the earthquake were still living found that less than five percent of respondents knew why INGOs directed aid where they did.
“There needs to be a new relationship to decision making and these need to be made public, not only to possible donors, but to people on the ground because beneficiaries have no idea why INGOs make the decisions they do,” Schuller told IRIN.
The calls for more partnership are not only coming from outside observers. A statement issued by the Popular Democratic People’s Movement, a Haitian civil society organisation, days after the hurricane warns that the government “must not tolerate, or allow any international, multilateral, bilateral or non-governmental organisation to side-step the authority of the state or local organisations to coordinate and manage in their place”.
Meanwhile, the Haitian embassy in Washington, DC has released a list of “best practices for disaster relief efforts in Haiti” that urges those wishing to assist to “operate under the guidance of local government officials and/or with organizations that… already have systems in place on the ground.”
Haitian people need to be treated “not just as survivors or victims but experts and leaders; they know best where the aid needs to going and they need to be trusted with making decisions,” said Schuller. “But there is an urgent lack of resources at the moment, so we can provide resources.”
So far, a flash appeal launched by the humanitarian sector in Haiti in conjunction with the government, has only raised $26.5 million of the $119.8 million asked for the emergency response.
“What we’re hearing is that people are asking not to be put in camps in a state of dependency,” said Schuller. “They don’t want temporary shelters; they want reconstruction using their own skills.”