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HAITI WITHOUT TEARS : GETTING AID RIGHT - Par : David Carment and Yiagadeesen Samy, in Policy Options

mardi 6 avril 2010 par William Toussaint

Recent efforts to rebuild Haiti by combining Canadian expertise with indigenous
efforts are unlikely to be effective. For most of its history, Haiti’s governments and
leaders have failed to provide security to their people, to promote economic freedom
and to encourage entrepreneurship. The result is an extremely weak formal economy,
entrenched corruption, heavy dependence on external assistance, and a large informal
sector where most people are barely surviving. The Canadian government has a
responsibility to make sure that the allocation of every single aid dollar spent is
carefully monitored. Impact-assessment tools need to be applied at every stage, and
aid should be revised or withdrawn if results are not achieved.

Les efforts visant à reconstruire Haïti en combinant l’expertise canadienne et l’action
locale resteront vraisemblablement infructueux. L’histoire de ce pays montre en effet
que les gouvernements et dirigeants haïtiens ont échoué à garantir la sécurité de la
population, à promouvoir la liberté économique et à stimuler l’entrepreneurship.
D’où l’extrême faiblesse d’une économie officielle rongée par la corruption et
fortement tributaire de l’aide extérieure, et l’existence d’un vaste secteur informel
qui assure à peine la survie des habitants du pays. Le gouvernement canadien doit
donc surveiller rigoureusement comment Haïti dépense le moindre dollar de son
aide. Il doit pour ce faire utiliser à chaque étape des outils d’évaluation, puis revoir
ou retirer son aide en l’absence des résultats escomptés.

Recent efforts such as the one by Allan Rock, former
Canadian foreign minister and now president of the
University of Ottawa, to harness the combined energies
of Canada’s Haitian diaspora, eager Canadian NGOs, like-minded
academics and foreign affairs specialists are well intentioned
but not carefully thought out, and at worst, misplaced. The most
important attribute of Rock’s plan would feature Canadian
experts working alongside Haitians to support indigenous efforts
to rebuild the country. We wonder if such a strategy — premised
on a faddish development agenda that supports existing political
structures, reinforces corrupt leadership and stresses local
ownership and decision-making processes in such a fragile environment
as Haiti’s — is likely to be effective. Nowhere is a dose
of paternalism more needed than in Haiti, a country that lacks
all the attributes of a normally functioning state.
Haiti’s history is one of extreme poverty and fragility.
Before the earthquake struck, Haiti was the only country in
the western hemisphere that was at risk of failing to meet
seven of the eight Millennium Development Goals, including
increasing gender equality and education and reducing
extreme poverty and hunger, child mortality and maternal
mortality, putting the country in an unenviable category
usually occupied by the failed states of Africa.

The difficulties that it faced in the immediate aftermath
of the earthquake, in terms of rescue efforts and aid coordination
on the ground, stem from deep underlying weaknesses in
governance, human development, economic development,
and security that were in place many decades before the earthquake
struck. Poverty and fragility meant that security was
never guaranteed, that property rights have been virtually
nonexistent, that there were no building codes, that construction
quality standards were not respected and that successive
governments were too weak to enforce whatever standard was
in place. For most of Haiti’s contemporary history, its governments
and leaders have failed to provide security to their people,
to promote economic freedom and to encourage
entrepreneurship. The result is an extremely weak formal
economy that has entrenched corruption and is heavily
dependent on external assistance, and a large informal sector
where most people are barely surviving. Why should one then
be surprised about the degree of deforestation and environmental
degradation as well as the poor quality of construction
in that country, when basic property rights are not respected ?

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6 avril 2010
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