U.S. Assistance to Haiti:

Progress Made, Challenges Remain

NSIAD-85-86: Published: Jun 12, 1985. Publicly Released: Jun 12, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed economic assistance programs being administered by the Agency for International Development (AID) in Haiti, specifically: (1) the reasonableness of AID strategy in meeting development objectives; (2) Haitian support of AID development efforts; (3) the use and selection of nongovernment organizations to administer programs; and (4) the status of P.L. 480 food assistance programs.

GAO found that: (1) AID has reasonably created a Haitian development strategy that is based on past experiences, ongoing assessments of program needs and performance, and AID policy guidance; (2) while the strategy appears to be consistent with Haitian plans, some Haitian officials have questioned aspects of the AID strategy; (3) pursuant to congressional direction, AID has increased the implementation of its programs through nongovernmental organizations; (4) a major constraint on long-term development is the inability of the Haitian government to assume the recurrent costs of completed development projects; and (5) Haiti has improved its responsiveness to AID initiatives and its performance in meeting commitments on specific projects. GAO also found that: (1) AID reliance on nongovernmental organizations to implement its Haitian development strategy has achieved significant results in various areas; (2) AID lacks complete data on the groups it uses and their activities; and (3) the reliance on nongovernmental organizations has led to a proliferation of small projects that strains the ability of AID to provide adequate technical assistance and oversight. In addition, GAO found that: (1) increased assistance under the new Food for Development program will require AID to increase its administrative and monitoring efforts; and (2) AID assistance under the School Feeding, Maternal Child Health, and Food for Work programs has improved the nutritional status of recipients, but limited government involvement is preventing these programs from reaching their full potential.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: At a July 1985 meeting of the joint donor/Government of Haiti, Commission on Foreign Aid, plans were formulated for a more concerted effort to deal with the recurrent cost problem.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should encourage formation of a working group of Haitian officials and external donor representatives to examine the recurrent cost problem.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An AID contractor is currently completing an evaluation of the SDA program.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should have a comprehensive evaluation made of the Special Development Activities (SDA) program to assist in assessing whether this approach should be expanded and what oversight the mission needs to devote to such community-implemented projects.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A U.S. resident hire was added to the mission's staff to oversee the P.L. 480 programs. The staff member assigned to the title I program has been shifted to oversee the new title III program, and an assistant has been hired.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should have the current staffing structure in Haiti assessed to see if a shift is warranted to oversee P.L. 480 programs.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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