A report examining US efforts to rebuild post-earthquake Haiti

A federal review report said Thursday that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) has constructed only half of eight major projects aimed at helping Haiti recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake.

The US Government Accountability Office also found that most of the agency’s projects had been delayed, had to be scaled back, or turned out to be more expensive than planned.

The report is the latest to examine how billions of dollars have been spent to help Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, which the Haitian government estimates killed nearly 300,000 people.

USAID projects to rehabilitate rural roads, expand a power plant in an industrial park, and build a $4.2 million port in northern Haiti have been cancelled. In addition, only about 900 of the 4,000 planned homes were built, due to unexpectedly high costs, according to the review.

“The pursuit of overly ambitious plans has led to delays, increased costs, reduced ranges, canceled activities and costly redesigns,” the 93-page report said.

The report said USAID did not fully or consistently track or evaluate the results of infrastructure projects.

The report stated that the agency also failed to analyze the effectiveness of its efforts to develop the Haitian National Police through training, equipment and technical assistance. But, she added, political instability, violence and civil unrest have hampered efforts to help a police force that has been overwhelmed by powerful gangs that control more than half of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

The report said that the US Agency for International Development has built a power plant worth $74 million and improved 24 health and public facilities as part of an ongoing health infrastructure program worth $89 million.

The review also found that USAID improved local tax systems, increased HIV testing and related services, and helped farmers access agricultural markets and negotiate better prices for their produce via a mobile communications system.

Overall, USAID spent $2 billion to help Haiti rebuild and develop in fiscal years 2010 to 2020, the review says.

“These activities have been crucial in supporting Haiti after a series of devastating disasters and setbacks, but their effectiveness is not fully known,” the report said.

USAID said it has taken steps to make improvements, including awarding a new data collection and analysis contract to examine current and past efforts.

The Haitian prime minister’s office did not respond to a letter seeking comment on the report’s findings.

Haiti is still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake as well as a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck in August 2021, killing more than 2,200 people and damaging more than 130,000 buildings.

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