Haiti: A nation revisited

As the PovertyCure team visits Haiti this week with continued work on our documentary, it is good to consider some of the issues facing this nation. Jacob Kushner at Globalpost.com notes how devastating it has been that NGOs and other aid organizations have long ignored Haiti's own businesses when it comes to spending donated dollars:

The $10.2 billion in aid pledged to post-earthquake reconstruction in Haiti is largely bypassing the nation’s local producers and importers. Only 2.4 percent of the $205 million in aid contracts by the US government in Haiti as of September 2011 went to Haitian companies, according to an analysis by the Center on Economic and Policy Research of the Federal Procurement Database System.

It's not all bad news, though. There are many Haitians and those in the aid industry that have recognized the problem and are working hard to change how this money is spent, with an eye to bolstering local Haitian businesses. After the recent cholera epidemic struck, the United Nations needed a massive soap order filled.

Normally such a call would go to one of the UNDP's [United Nations Development Program] US-based suppliers, who would truck the soap over from a warehouse in Haiti or ship it down from the States. But, as a director of entrepreneurial NGO called Building Markets at the time, Loxley had a database at his fingertips that included eleven local soap suppliers and three manufacturers who produce soap here in Haiti. Loxley helped connect UNDP with Fritz Brandt, whose company Carribex has been producing soap, oil and other food products for local consumption in Haiti since 2004.Carribex was able to produce and begin delivering the special type of soap UNDP needed to slow the cholera epidemic in just two days — so fast, in fact, that UNDP momentarily ran out of space to put it all“I started delivering in 72 hours, and finished three million bars in less than a week,” said Brandt, who also helped UNDP identify a recipe for a particular laundry soap that would be more effective than typical bar soap in killing cholera bacteria.

Read the entire article here.

Jul 262012
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