How Foreign Aid Helps Haiti

July 13, 2010 By Eric Peckham

 width=On January 12th, the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti was devastated by a 7.0-Mw earthquake, and in the aftermath the international community—led by the United States in particular—rushed to Haitians’ aid with food and water, medical services, and reconstruction teams.

Now, 6 months later, it is evident that, although much remains to be done, our foreign aid has made a profound impact on helping the country recover. Following the deaths of 230,000 Haitian citizens and the displacement of another 1.5 million, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) led “the largest urban food distribution in history,” feeding over 3.5 million.

It also helped provide emergency shelter and medical vaccines to over 1 million Haitians, and helped coordinate billions of dollars in aid pledged by governments and NGOs. Clean drinking water is now more available to poor Haitians than it was before the earthquake.

Former President Bill Clinton—co-chair of the international commission overseeing all foreign aid to the country—stated that he is optimistic that Haiti’s economy and quality-of-life will be better than it was before the earthquake hit once all the pledged outside assistance has been provided. The American government has sent about $100 million of the $1 billion+ promised.

Significant progress is being made, and Haiti can be transformed into a much healthier and safer place, but only as long as there is sufficient funding to continue recovery efforts beyond just laying the groundwork.