Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Haiti emergency and accountability

Dear Colleagues

It is very disappointing that the accountability aspect of the Haiti emergency is following the same old same old pattern.

While there has been a very positive global response to the appeal for assistance ... the way the resources mobilized has been used is about as opaque as it can be. All the emergency organizations ignore all communication about accountability ... both those that are good and those that are bad. How do you tell one from the other. Both are able to publish stories ... but there is no ability to check anything.

In my early career I did audit work ... and when you cannot get information, there is usually a reason ... and the reason is usually pretty bad. My guess ... and I cannot prove this because no data are forthcoming ... my guess is that most of the well known names in the international official relief and development assistance (ORDA) industry are, if not corrupt, extremely inefficient ... same for the well known NGOs ... same for the well connected contractors.

All of this conjecture could be handled with just a modest amount of transparency and some quite basic information about how money was used and the value of the activities. The idea that these data do not exist and very large sums of money are being used is really appalling. Very large sums of money seem to disappear ... and big contractors and suppliers of emergency goods and services seem to get well remunerated. In my youth much of this remuneration would fit into the category of "profiteering".

There are tools to make sense of all this ... in fact this is part of the reason why Community Analytics (CA) was developed.

About 10 weeks after the disastrous earthquake in Haiti ... I now regard the accountability of the global emergency response to be nearly a 100% failure. I am very disappointed.

Peter Burgess
Community Analytics (CA)

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