Red Cross Under The Microscope

In Search Of The Red Cross' $500 Million In Haiti Relief
When a devastating earthquake leveled Haiti in 2010, millions of people donated to the American Red Cross. The charity raised almost half a billion dollars. It was one of its most successful fundraising efforts ever. ..... The American Red Cross vowed to help Haitians rebuild, but after five years the Red Cross' legacy in Haiti is not new roads, or schools, or hundreds of new homes. It's difficult to know where all the money went. ..... the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six. ...... the organization spent $69 million on emergency relief, $170 million providing shelter and $49 million on water and sanitation efforts. ........ millions of dollars given for new hospitals, vaccination programs, and disbursement of tents and water tablets. The charity says it has done more than 100 projects in Haiti, repairing 4,000 homes, giving several thousand families temporary shelters and donating $44 million for food. ...... Much of the money never reached people in need. ...... The Red Cross gave much of the money to other groups to do the hands-on work, resulting in additional fees. ..... First the Red Cross took a customary administrative cut, then the charities that received the money took their own fees. And then, according to the Red Cross' records, the charity took out an additional amount to pay for what it calls the "program costs incurred in managing" these third-party projects. ...... In one of the programs reviewed by NPR and ProPublica, these costs ate up a third of the money that was supposed to help Haitians. ....... about three years ago the Red Cross came with glossy booklets saying it was going to build hundreds of new homes, a water and sanitation system and a health clinic. None of that happened. ...... The men say they think it's possible that the Red Cross will still build them homes. ...... When shown a Red Cross promotional brochure about the project, the men are stunned. ...... The original plan was to build 700 new homes with living rooms and bathrooms. The Red Cross says it ran into problems acquiring land rights. ..... McGovern went to a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington and said that a fifth of the money the charity raised would go to "provide tens of thousands of people with permanent homes ... where we develop brand-new communities ... including water and sanitation." ..... The charity built six permanent homes and, according to their own account, no new communities. ..... The review also found that officials spent some of the money teaching residents to wash their hands with soap and water — and that the residents did not have access to either soap or water. ..... After several emails, the Red Cross acknowledged that the "130,000 Haitians" figure is made up of people who went to a seminar on how to fix their own homes, people who received temporary rental assistance, and thousands of people who received temporary shelters — which start to disintegrate after three to five years....... Archaic land title and government requirements make building in Haiti very difficult and time-consuming, but other charities have built almost 9,000 homes so far ....... He says the project has been successful because the majority of the staff and managers are also Haitian — and are passionate about rebuilding their country..... "All this work that you are looking at now, the calculation was made by Haitian people, Haitian engineers, Haitian architects, Haitian foreman," he says. "We know what to do."..... The Red Cross does not seem to have used that strategy. In one internal memo, the top manager of the Haiti program complains that Haitians were not being hired for top positions — and in some cases were treated disparagingly................ In a 2011 memo, the then-director of the Haiti program, Judith St. Fort, wrote that senior managers had made "very disturbing" remarks disparaging Haitian employees. St. Fort, who is Haitian-American, wrote that the comments included "he is the only hard working one among them" and "the ones that we have hired are not strong, so we probably should not pay close attention to Haitian CVs." ...... "Going to meetings with the community when you don't speak the language is not productive," says Carline Noailles, one of the former staffers. Sometimes, she recalls, Red Cross staffers would skip such meetings entirely........ According to an internal Red Cross budgeting document for the project in Campeche, the project manager — a position reserved for an expatriate – was entitled to allowances for housing, food and other expenses, home leave trips, R&R four times a year, and relocation expenses. In all, including salary, it added up to $140,000.