Four Years After Earthquake, Haiti Still in Ruins, Billions in Aid Never Reaches Citizens (Video)

| by Michael Allen

Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake Jan. 12, 2010, which left more than 250,000 people dead.

After four years and billions of dollars of aid, the country is still in ruins, including its capital Port-au-Prince.

This is where many Haitians still live in tent cities. For the lucky ones who get $500 to move into an apartment, all of that money is spent on the rent, leaving none for food (video below).

The citizens are soon evicted and have to go back to living in tents.

The US offered $3 billion in aid for Haiti after the earthquake, but less than one percent of $1.3 billion (of the aid) has gone directly to the Haitian people.

Instead, the cash has gone to the government and foreign reconstruction firms inside the country.

"Sixty percent [of US funds] goes to firms operating inside the beltway, disappearing in a black box," Jake Johnson, of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, told Al Jazeera. "That makes it very hard to determine how and when the funds reach the ground."

"When so little of the funding reaches Haitians themselves, it takes them out of the decision-making process and ensures that aid programs are not actually responsive to the needs of people on the ground," added Johnson.

"Reports on contractors are not actually done according to the Office of Inspector General for USAID," stated Johnson.

Even though the Haitian government has failed to rebuild its country, it continues to make the same promises.

"We are going to press on the accelerator to advance the main projects, and Haitians will be proud of reconstruction," Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said on Friday. "Reconstruction is a shared concern, not just for President Michel Martelly and the government."

However, Dieudonne Saincy, of an opposition party, says President Martelly's government is "completely passing over the plan for rebuilding the country, which was negotiated with international donors."

Saincy and Lamothe both admit that 42 percent of the international aid money was spent on the post-earthquake emergency, not reconstruction.

"We were lucky to have help from Venezuela. Most of our projects were accomplished with Venezuelan money. With slim means, we accomplished a lot of things," Lamothe told AFP.

"The country was deeply hurt... we have resettled the homeless and the construction of seven ministry and public offices is underway" claimed Lamothe. "If the international community had fulfilled its commitment, we would have accomplished 10 times more than we have achieved."

Still, after billions of dollars in aid, almost 200,000 Haitian people are living in temporary shelters, such as tent cities.

Sources: Al Jazeera and AFP