BOGOTA (AlertNet) - Canada is reviewing tens of millions of dollars in aid to Haiti over concerns about the lack of transparency in how the money is being spent and the little progress made in rebuilding following the devastating earthquake nearly three years ago, Canada’s minister of international cooperation has said.
Minister Julian Fantino, who heads the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), said although Canada has spent more than C$1 billion in aid to Haiti since 2006, limited progress has been made towards sustainable, long-term development.
“Our government has a responsibility to maximize the value of Canadian taxpayer dollars… However, we remain concerned with the slow progress of development in Haiti, in large part due to weaknesses in their governing institutions,” Fantino said in a statement posted on CIDA’s website on Tuesday.
“We want to improve the results achieved and better address the needs and priorities of the Haitian people. Doing so requires greater leadership, accountability and transparency from the Government of Haiti so that they can take a greater role in the development of their country.”
Over the past decade, Canada has been one of Haiti’s largest foreign donors, with its aid money focused on healthcare, vaccinations, education, and strengthening the country’s weak government institutions.
Since the earthquake, Canada has spent tens of millions of dollars on humanitarian assistance and rebuilding efforts.
Fantino said the Haitian government needs to do more to ensure Canadian aid is better spent and managed.
“Canada's assistance will not be a blank cheque. We expect accountability, we expect transparency, and we expect tangible results for those most in need,” he said.
Canada’s review of its aid to Haiti comes as the impoverished Caribbean country prepares to mark the three-year anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude quake that hit the country on January 12, 2010.
The disaster killed roughly 300,000 people and left most of the capital Port-au-Prince and other major cities in Haiti under rubble and in ruins. Nearly 360,000 Haitians made homeless by the quake still live in makeshift camp settlements.
Canada and other foreign aid donors have been reluctant to hand over large chunks of aid money directly to the Haitian authorities because of corruption fears and the country’s unstable government. According to Transparency International, Haiti is one of the world’s most corrupt countries.
Fantino reiterated that Canada would continue to support its ongoing development projects in Haiti and provide future humanitarian support if needed.