NGOs Letting Haiti Down?

In the 10 months since the Haitian earthquake, money has flowed to the Caribbean island by the billions. Channeled primarily through nongovernmental organizations—because they are concerned over possible corruption within the Haitian government—donor countries have sent nearly $10 billion. But the NGOs, which have grown more powerful than the government itself, have struggled to use the funds efficiently. They have often failed to coordinate among themselves and with the government, while focusing on short-term relief, leaving more than a million people still living in tent cities. At times, NGOs have even ignored the government’s wishes entirely. The chaos has been thrown into stark relief by a cholera epidemic that has claimed around 800 lives and led the United Nations to ask for yet an additional $164 million to fight it. "To continue in Haiti, we need to be partners and have to be a part of the reconstruction plan,” said Paul McPhun, who oversees Doctors Without Borders in Haiti, “but I don't think anybody knows what those plans are.”