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Haiti 10 years later: What happened to the billions pledged to help the people of Haiti?

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When Haiti was rocked by an earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, images of despair and damage struck a chord with people around the world.

American journalist Jonathan M. Katz has closely analyzed the money pledged and how much was actually disbursed. He reports the global response totalled US$16.3 billion in pledges for rebuilding and recovery efforts. Other estimates, including from the L.A. Times, pin it at US$13.5 billion. In the month following the earthquake, Canadians donated $220 million to eligible organizations, which was matched by the federal government. From 2010 to 2018, Canada contributed $1.458 billion, which does not include the $220 donated by Canadians.

But after such a sizable commitment, seemingly little has changed for many Haitians.

“We’re still living in that same moment in that same time,” Guillano Louis, who lives in Port-au-Prince, tells Global News on the streets of the capital.

In the area of Canaan, a two-hour drive northeast of congested Port-au-Prince, some families still live in tents set up as a temporary measure for displaced residents after the earthquake. A family of seven sleeps in a threadbare tent, without access to running water, electricity or public services such as education. Some of the children were born in these conditions.

With 10 years gone by, there are questions from the international community about the lack of progress.

“The headline should be, ‘We screwed up,’” says Katz, reflecting on the global response.

He explains that the international community didn’t keep its promises.

Katz was inside his home in Haiti when it “buckled along with hundreds of thousands of others.” In his book, The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster, he claims Canada disbursed $657 million in the 20 months since the quake, but only about two per cent was channelled to the Haitian government.

Global News reached out to Global Affairs Canada for confirmation of the figures provided by Katz. In a statement, the department says it is “unable to confirm this figure, as we are not aware of the methodology that was used to arrive at this amount.”

“Canada’s international assistance to Haiti is channelled through international or Canadian partners whose financial capacity and integrity have been verified,” the statement says.

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