1/12/11: Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project is in Haiti available for bookings.


U.S. SMS/VOICEMAIL: 202-556-3023

Haiti Phone: 509-3418-4513

Email: ben@disasteraccountability.org


Accountability is a major component of stories on the earthquake’s anniversary. Last week, Disaster Accountability Project released a report on the lack of transparency in aid organizations operating in Haiti. While some externalities (capacity issues, Haiti politics, scope of disaster) have definitely frustrated relief efforts, the report demonstrates how aid organizations are lacking the initiative and urgency of their massive fundraising efforts.

Talking points:

1) With half the donated money in the bank, relief groups are not acting with same urgency of their fundraising.

2) The incredible generosity of donors is not being felt on the ground as conditions decline. The huge missed opportunity of American generosity and good-will is very sad.

3) Cholera should not have happened with so much donated to groups that told their donors they were working on water and sanitation. Clinics should not have been unstaffed. The only reason why thousands died was a failure to use resources on-hand to improve conditions and get medicines and staff on ground.

4) Why would donor nations put more cash into Haiti earthquake relief and recovery when much of the money would sit in the bank accounts of these same organizations. Organizations are not conveying urgency of situation in their actions. They need to demonstrate they are worthy of additional dollars.

6) Haitians have no idea how many nonprofit organizations exist in their country – in a country the size of the State of Maryland. Only about 250 registered with the Haitian government.

7) Aid groups are not transparent about their day-to-day activities. This leads to failures in coordination and donations to the wrong groups. Donors need to ask more questions before they donate.

Report URL:

PDF copy available upon request

From Disaster Accountability Project’s report press release:

“The fact that nearly half of the donated dollars still sit in the bank accounts of relief/aid groups does not match the urgency of their own fundraising and marketing efforts and donors’ intentions, nor does it covey the urgency of the situation on the ground. This may be a disincentive for future giving by individuals and other governments,” said Ben Smilowitz, Executive Director, Disaster Accountability Project.

“Without detailed and regular information about activities on the ground, donors are “giving in the dark” and, despite some partnerships, groups cannot coordinate using annual or quarterly reports. Limited coordination is still frustrating relief delivery and effectiveness,” said Smilowitz.

“There is no excuse for the cholera epidemic and deteriorating conditions on the ground given the amount of resources donated and available. With hundreds of millions in the bank and unspent, many groups continue to solicit additional donations,” said Smilowitz.