Legislators say they must now dip heavily into their public treasury to finish the job
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — One Friday last November, US Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth Merten joined Haiti’s President and then-Prime Minister at the edge of the Caribbean Sea in downtown Port-au-Prince.
To much fanfare, the trio inaugurated a $1.9 million US-funded building meant as a temporary home for Haiti’s Parliament, which had lost its old building and 32 of its staff members in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010.
But more than four months later, that location remains vacant. The building is scattered with woodwork trimmings and debris from a costly ongoing renovation paid for by the Haitian treasury because legislators say the United States never finished the job. And critics in Haiti charge that the unfinished work and empty building stand as a powerful metaphor for much of what is wrong with USAID’s approach to development in Haiti: that it lacks coordination with and input from the Haitians themselves about how best to undertake reconstruction projects.