Critics question how Haiti aid money has been spent

The Miami HeraldJanuary 10, 2011 

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Wearing orange rubber gloves and a straw hat, Marie Siane furiously scrubs a wooden row of two dozen latrines overlooking a basketball court.

The bathroom she uses and is paid $5 a day to disinfect is at the Ancien Aviation Militaire quake survivor camp, nudged between a cholera clinic and a hospital, near where the 41,857 people she lives with get their daily supply of clean water.

"This is a good toilet, because it is the only toilet we have,'' Siane said. "I know a lot of money came into Haiti, but let's face it: I live in a house made of blankets.''

The mini-city she lives in represents a microcosm of how the at least $4 billion donated to Haiti last year was spent: largely on basic services.

More than 200 nonprofit groups and governments around the world rushed to Haiti's aid after the Jan. 12 quake. But the absence of construction cranes and stalled progress on major projects such as hospitals and schools has many people wondering: Where did all that money go? The short answer: Keeping people alive.

It went to employing Haitians in short-term low-paying jobs, providing tents and tarps, and supplying food for four months. It paid for amputations, vaccinations of a million people and rubble removal.

But Haitians, watchdog groups and other critics complain that much of the money raised went toward foreigners' salaries, expensive vehicles or sits in the bank waiting for projects to get moving.

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