As Haiti marks the second anniversary of the earthquake that killed some 300,000 people, only about half of the $4.6 billion in promised international aid has been spent. Half a million people are still living in crowded camps. And only four of the 10 largest projects funded by international donors have broken ground.
The optimistic rallying cry promoted shortly after the earthquake, to “build back better,” has turned out to be much harder to achieve than anyone imagined. Reconstruction efforts have been stymied by the same problems that impoverished Haiti in the first place: chronic political instability, a lack of a robust central government, and a tattered infrastructure in a nation where, even before the earthquake, half the children did not attend school and more than half the population was unemployed.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, said in an interview Wednesday that the reality of Haiti and its complicated history made the hoped-for reconstruction difficult.
“We had massive, massive problems in Haiti before the earthquake,” Clinton told the Associated Press. “A lot of this stuff we’re not trying to rebuild – we’re actually trying to do it right for the first time.”