January 11, 2012; Source: The Guardian | The United Nations reports that only half of all of the funds pledged to rebuild Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that killed 316,000 of its people has been delivered. Among those who have not followed through—Venezuela and the United States, which together pledged $1.8 billion (they have disbursed just 24 percent ($223 million) and 30 percent ($278 million), respectively. Japan and Finland are among the few to have fully paid what they promised—$100 million and $6 million, respectively.

Oxfam stresses that the slow payments are holding up the reconstruction in a country where 500,000 remain homeless as a result of the quake. According to the UN report, “Most Haitians do not have running water, a toilet or access to a doctor; cholera has claimed thousands of lives and remains a major threat to public health; and more than 70% of the workforce is under- or unemployed.”

Some of those who have moved slowly point to the lack of infrastructure in Haiti as part of the reason for slow payment of pledges. Tom Adams, the U.S. state department’s special co-ordinator for Haiti, defended the international response to the crisis, saying, “Quite honestly, donor funding is never going to be enough. . . . In some areas, we are really just starting, because we wanted it to be a Haitian-led effort, not a donor-led effort.”

Haiti’s new president, Michael Martelly, has said that he wants to rebuild with a more just social framework in mind that includes“free access to quality schools for all Haitian children,” but he acknowledges the scale of the job, noting that 800,000 Haitians have no electricity, 500,000 are illiterate, only 200,000 have regular jobs, and 80 percernt are surviving on less than $2 a day.

Altogether, of the $4.6 billion pledged, only $2.6 billion has made it to Haiti.—Ruth McCambridge