One year after a devastating earthquake toppled homes and killed roughly 250,000 people in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest country is still reeling from the devastation.
As Reuters reports, despite billions of dollars of donations and aid pledges from some of the world's most powerful leaders, a 12,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping presence and an army of relief workers, the debris that clogs much of the city and a million homeless people living in tents are blunt testimony to the unfinished recovery task. Meanwhile, the nation's cholera epidemic, which began this past fall, continues to run rampant.
"When you go around the country and through the tents (in the survivors' camps) and you look at the situation people are facing one year after the disaster, it's hard to see much sign of how that money was spent," said Mackenzy Jean-Francois, a 25-year-old university student in Port-au-Prince is quoted as saying.
British-based charity firm Oxfam offered more staggering statistics and an even sharper critique of the relief efforts, saying that various projects had been crippled by lack of leadership and cooperation from the Haitian government and the international community. "As Haitians prepare for the first anniversary of the earthquake, close to one million people are reportedly still displaced. Less than 5 percent of the rubble has been cleared, only 15 percent of the temporary housing that is needed has been built and relatively few permanent water and sanitation facilities have been constructed," the report said. A Chronicle of Philanthropy survey of 60 major relief organizations echoed those sentiments, stating that although Americans alone donated more than $1.4 billion to the country, only 38 percent of that has actually been used to provide recovery aid.
Still, Nigel Fisher, deputy U.N. special representative in Port-au-Prince, is quoted as saying that the immediate objectives agreed upon within the month after the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010 had been "largely" met. "On the whole, we met our targets," Fisher said.
View photos of Haiti's difficult recovery, one year later, here: