The dueling narratives of impassioned assistance and circumspection regarding reconstruction efforts in Haiti came to light Thursday, during a special session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Former President Bill Clinton delivered a plea to the rich and powerful in attendance to join in the rebuilding effort.
“If there’s anybody who knows where I can get pick-up trucks or something slightly bigger, I need 100 yesterday. They do,” he said, as reported by CNN.
“There are serious, unmet food and water needs and part of it is that a distribution system just does not exist.
“It is simply not enough, even if we had all the food and water we needed every single day, to distribute aid from only 15 sites.” He said more than a 100 sites were required.
“I want the people of Haiti not to have to worry about whether they can eat today or get water today… I want them to at least be able to know that from one week to the next they have a place to sleep, that it’s safe and it’s sanitary.”
Clinton’s remarks were met with skepticism by Huguette Labelle, chair of the corruption watchdog Transparency International, who warned that donor countries and companies should closely monitor where their money is going in Haiti.
“In the first phase you have to get to the people, you have to try to save lives,” she told the Associated Press. “But after that, you have to invest in costly infrastructure projects susceptible to corruption.
“There can be billions of dollars going in to Haiti and the important part doesn’t even reach the people, it goes out of the country the minute it goes in…It makes a few people very rich, and the rest stay poor.”