Port-au-Prince, Haiti » Less than a penny of each dollar the U.S. is spending on earthquake relief in Haiti is going in the form of cash to the Haitian government, according to an Associated Press review of relief efforts.
Two weeks after President Barack Obama announced an initial $100 million for Haiti earthquake relief, U.S. government spending on the disaster has nearly quadrupled to $379 million, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced Wednesday. That's about $1.25 each from everyone in the United States.
Each American dollar roughly breaks down like this: 42 cents for disaster assistance, 33 cents for U.S. military aid, nine cents for food, nine cents to transport the food, five cents for paying Haitian survivors for recovery efforts, just less than one cent to the Haitian government, and about half a cent to the Dominican Republic.
The U.S. government money is part of close to $2 billion in relief aid flowing into Haiti -- almost all of it managed by organizations other than the Haitian government, which has been struggling to re-establish its authority since the quake. On Wednesday, a defensive President Rene Preval acknowledged his country's reputation, but said aid money isn't lining the pockets of government officials.
Relief experts say it would be a mistake to send too much direct cash to the Haitian government, which was already unstable before the quake and routinely included on lists of the world's most corrupt countries.
"Americans are the most generous people who ever lived, but they want accountability," said Timothy Knight, a former US AID assistant director who spent 25 years distributing disaster aid.