USAID to send $25 million more

The U.S. Agency for International Development gave $25 million more in food aid for Haiti, bringing its total to $45 million.

jcharles@MiamiHerald.com

The U.S. Agency for International Development, which last week announced that it was sending $20 million in emergency food aid to Haiti, will be sending $25 million more, the agency’s top administrator said Friday.

”We know that we are not the full solution, we are a part. We are trying to be supportive and we are trying to help,” USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore said.

Fore flew from Washington to Miami to personally deliver the news, inviting Haitian-American leaders to the USAID warehouse in West Miami-Dade County. The funds, she said, will help provide 36,000 tons of food staples to 2.5 million Haitians through three types of programs targeting the disabled, orphans, mothers, children and the elderly.

The programs will be administered by the World Food Program, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision, and will pay Haitians with food in exchange for helping to rebuild irrigation systems and roads to boost domestic production efforts.

”As close neighbors, the United States has a vital stake in providing both emergency assistance as well as long-term support for Haiti’s economic, social and economic development,” she said.

Friday’s announcement was welcomed by South Florida’s congressional delegation including U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who introduced Fore at the event. Diaz-Balart noted that the U.S. Congress in a ”bipartisan basis” had approved $250 million.

”Today the United States takes another step characteristic of its generosity of [helping] Haiti,” he said.

The announcement comes six weeks after deadly riots over rising food prices rocked Haiti, leaving several people dead and the country without a working government. Haitian senators fired the prime minister on April 12, blaming him for the crisis, and he has yet to be replaced.

While Haitian community leaders from Miami-Dade and Broward counties also welcomed the news, they were not without their criticism of USAID, saying despite millions of dollars spent and years of U.S. involvement in Haiti, abysmal poverty persists in the Caribbean nation.

”What we are doing here today . . . it’s only for short-term relief,” said Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, who recently visited the country as part of a delegation led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“The U.S. has been engaged in Haiti for almost 200 years now. I think it’s time for us to reasses our intervention and understand it is better for us to invest in bringing Haitian agriculture to its past grandeur.”

Fore said the agency was re-evaluating its work in Haiti and had recently formed an executive task force to review programs and redirect efforts to help Haitians produce domestic crops.

”Come to visit our website, see the programs that we have. Give us your voices, your thoughts back. Make sure that we are focusing our existing programs in the right way,” she told the audience.

Leonie Hermantin, deputy director of Lambi Fund of Haiti, which works with peasants, urged Fore to include peasants and other beneficiaries of aid on the task force.

Later in an interview with The Miami Herald, Fore said that while the tons of food will address the immediate need, USAID was helping Haiti’s long-term needs, including providing loan assistance through two Haitian banks to assist farmers.

 

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/haiti/story/545798.html

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