House Republicans aren’t very pleased with how the U.S. Agency for International Development has overseen relief efforts in Haiti since the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that killed some 230,000 people.
According to the Associated Press, Rajiv Shah, administrator of AID, was told during a recent subcommittee hearing that recovery efforts have been a failure. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said only 5 percent of the rubble has been removed and only 22 percent of the needed transitional shelters have been built.
Shah countered that newer figures show that between 10 and 20 percent of the rubble has been removed. He also reported that major progress has been made in providing safe drinking water and medical care, and that a new industrial park will create 5,000 jobs.
“The initial response was tremendous,” said Shah. “We would have had more success with rubble removal and housing if we had more specific support from our partners and the government of Haiti. We’re not in charge of Haiti. We’re in a bilateral partnership with Government of Haiti.”
Despite Shah’s progress report, House members remained firm about more needing to be done for the distressed country. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told Shah, ‘”you would be fired” if the recovery efforts showed the same results in the United States.’
Still, Shah emphasized that time and patience would be essential to helping Haiti overcome their hurdles.
“You can’t judge the effort in Haiti in one or two years,” he said. “Haiti has been a very poor country for a long time.”
While Shah has a point that reconstruction efforts do not happen overnight, the House should certainly continue to keep AID on a reasonable timeline so that results are made and Haiti does not become a passing thought.