Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Accountability ... Haiti ... World Vision

Dear Colleagues

It is now more than 6 month since the devastating earthquake in Haiti ... and as yet the NGO community and official development assistance community ... the UN, the US agencies, the Government of Haiti, etc ... have done almost nothing in the area of accountability.

A couple of days ago I got this message from World Vision. I have been in touch with them from time to time on the subject of accountability, and, bottom line my conclusion is that they do some good work at a huge cost. They might dispute this in a verbal dialog ... but no data are available, it would seem, for them to show that they are in fact cost efficient and cost effective. In fact ... I am not sure that these metrics are anywhere in their systems. This is not a great surprise since none of the organizations engaged in global relief and development seem to think that cost control, operational efficiency and real impact are important aspects of managing resources.

This is the e-mail message from World Vision!
Dear Sponsor,

Six months have passed since the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. During this time, support from partners like you has helped World Vision reach 1.86 million people with life-saving supplies and life-changing assistance.

For example, we've opened 22 Child-Friendly Spaces and 10 health clinics to help children like 6-year-old Louis have opportunities to heal from emotional distress, learn, and play.

And our work continues. In the midst of a hurricane season that is expected to be particularly severe, a lack of safe shelter has become a serious fear for displaced Haitians.

To give you an accurate picture of the current situation in Haiti, we've asked World Vision experts on the ground to share their personal stories and observations through a special video interview, which you can view on our new Haiti 6-month update website.

Many displaced families, like 14-year-old Wedley's, sleep in shelters made of flimsy materials that provide little protection from the rain. Their living conditions make them particularly vulnerable to the threat of secondary disasters — such as hurricanes and mudslides — and the spread of disease. World Vision sponsorship communities also have been burdened as displaced people have migrated to rural areas. These communities are receiving additional support to help them heal from the effects of this disaster. Now more than ever, these children and families need your prayers.

In response to this ongoing need, World Vision is helping communities prepare for future disasters and planning to build shelters to protect them from severe weather.

Thank you for helping to make these efforts possible. You can learn more about World Vision's progress, as well as our current and long-term efforts in Haiti, by listening to our expert interviews and viewing the full 6-month report online at

I pray that you'll continue to stand with us as we work together to build a brighter future for the children of Haiti.

God bless,

Rich Stearns
President, World Vision U.S.
When you look at the World Vision website you can navigate to Progress in Haiti and see the following. This is about as good as it gets in terms of accountability for the moneys being consumed in Haiti ... but by any absolute professional standards of accountability it is really pretty pathetic. This is the URL
Progress in Haiti

In the months immediately following Haiti’s devastating quake, partners like you enabled World Vision to care for the wounded and provide life-saving assistance to the displaced. Now we are helping children recover emotionally, equipping families to rebuild their lives, and preparing communities to face future disasters — including the immediate threat of hurricanes.

Prayers and support from partners like you continue to be vital to the success of these ongoing efforts. Thank you for joining us in our commitment to the future of Haiti — and Haiti’s children.

Protecting children: 22 safe spaces for children

Protecting children is a top priority following any disaster. As parents actively work to rebuild their lives, children need a safe place to play and find emotional support. Since the Haiti earthquake, World Vision has established 22 Child-Friendly Spaces where the youngest survivors can play, learn, and heal from the effects of this tragedy. More than 7,700 children have been assisted each week at Child-Friendly Spaces in camps in the greater Port-au-Prince area, Central Plateau, and in the border area with the Dominican Republic.

More than 100 children like Louis, 6, attend daily activities at the Child-Friendly Space in the Parc Acra camp. “Now, he can enjoy himself,” says Louis’ mother gratefully.

World Vision is also working with other partners in Haiti to protect children who were separated from their parents in the quake and to reunite as many as possible with their families. We’re also raising awareness of child rights, empowering children to have a voice in their communities, conducting reading workshops, and offering alternative educational opportunities for children whose schools were destroyed in the earthquake.

Shelter: More than 7,300 tents distributed

The rainy season in Haiti can be deadly, even before the threat of hurricanes — making adequate shelter for earthquake survivors essential. Within the first months following the earthquake, World Vision distributed more than 7,300 tents and nearly 64,000 tarpaulins. Now, World Vision is planning to build sturdy framed, long-lasting transitional shelters, which will protect children and families from harsh weather.

In Corail, where many families will struggle to stay dry during the rainy season, World Vision is partnering with other organizations to provide shelters. As additional land becomes available, we will help provide long-term shelters — and a sense of safety — for the displaced.

Water and sanitation: 28 displacement camps served

With hundreds of thousands of families in displacement camps, the threat of waterborne illness caused by poor sanitation and contaminated water is an immediate concern. In the first six months following the quake, World Vision worked in 28 displacement camps to build latrines and showers, and 23 camps to provide 16.8 million liters of clean water to children and families.

Twice daily, World Vision trucks deliver treated water to families in the Parc Acra camp, where it is used for drinking, bathing, and cooking. “If World Vision didn’t bring it, there would be no water at all,” says one mother.

Through cash-for-work programs, we are enabling Haitian adults to generate income while helping to improve sanitation facilities. Efforts include building and maintaining latrines and bathing facilities and digging trenches to prevent contaminated water from impacting the camps.

Nutrition: more than 1.86 million people fed

In the first six months following the earthquake, World Vision distributed more than 11,000 metric tons of food from the World Food Program and USAID, benefiting more than 1.86 million recipients. Now, World Vision’s cash-for-work programs are helping Haitians provide for their own families. “I have a 5-year-old son. This work will help me buy food, clothes, and repair my house,” said one sanitation project worker.

In addition, World Vision’s health teams are monitoring the nutritional status of young children through household visits and mobile clinics set up in displacement camps. Malnourished children are more susceptible to infection and illness, of which there is an increased risk during the rainy season. In camps like Parc Acra, supplementary food and early treatment are so far making a difference. “We have not had any child deaths,” declares Barbara, the clinic nurse.

Life-saving supplies: nearly 120,000 people served

Thousands of families lost everything in the earthquake. In the first stage of our response, World Vision provided close to 120,000 people, including Louis’ family, with essential supplies such as temporary shelters, cooking sets, blankets, and mosquito nets.

Recognizing the long-term nature of recovery, World Vision staff are continuing to assess and respond to the ongoing needs of children and families.
The problem with all of this information is that it is not organized in a systematic way so that meaningful conclusions can be drawn from the data. I characterize this information more as story telling or journalism than giving an "account".

Though there are quite a few numbers ... not one of the numbers is about the cost of what World Vision has done. There is nothing about how much was raised by World Vision or paid to World Vision for doing work in Haiti. All the fund flows are going on in deep shade! This is inexcusable ... but it has become the norm in the relief and development industry with nobody raising much hell about it.

There are also indications of multiple organizations getting to take the PR credit for the same number. Why would I not be surprised?
Example: World Vision distributed more than 11,000 metric tons of food from the World Food Program and USAID, benefiting more than 1.86 million recipients.
Now this is good ... I think ... but where is any rigorous accounting for this? What were the costs? What was the impact? What amount of the food got lost or stolen? How were the costs spent ... lots of high salaries or lots of low salaries? ... high cost accommodation for WV staff? ... lots of truck rentals at obscenely high costs, or donated transport? ... what type of food? 11,000 MT of high value food is one thing, 11,000 MT of a basic is a very different cost number. What is this compared to the total distributed? What is this compared to the total need? What is the reality of profiteering in the aftermath of disaster. Lots of questions that good accounting and reporting would easily answer!

I would like to invite someone from the World Vision accounting and accountability team for Haiti to engage in a dialog or a debate about these matters ... maybe at some upcoming University Workshop on the Haiti Relief and Rebuilding Program ... or any other venue that would be suitable.

These are important matters ... and it would be good to see some attention from the people that are in leadership positions.

Peter Burgess

No comments:

Post a Comment