Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Breakdown of the US aid to Haiti

The Associated press has analyzed the US government spending on Haiti earthquake relief. They broke the numbers down to what each American dollar will be spent on. 42 cents will go to disaster assistance, 33 cents for military aid, nine cents for food, another nine cents to get the food to Haiti, and only one penny to the Haitian government.

Total pledges of aid from the US government to Haiti amount to $379 million that translates to $1.25 for each US citizen.

From this Associated Press article that we found at The Sun News, writer Martha Mendoza gives more detail to the dollar analogy.

Of each U.S. taxpayer dollar, 42 cents funds US AID's disaster assistance - everything from $5,000 generators to $35 hygiene kits with soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste for a family of five.

Another 33 cents is going to the U.S. military, paying for security, search and rescue teams, and the Navy's hospital ship USNS Comfort.

Just under a dime has already been spent on food: 122 million pounds of pinto beans, black beans, rice, corn soy blend and vegetable oil. When purchased in bulk, the actual food prices are relatively low. Pinto beans, for example, cost the U.S. government 40 cents a pound when purchased in 5 million-pound batches last week.

Getting the food to Haitians - paying for freighters, trucks and distribution centers, and the people to staff them, took another nine cents from each dollar.

Initial disaster spending was aimed at saving lives; now the spending is shifting to recovery. The Obama administration is putting five cents of each dollar into efforts to pay survivors to work. One program already in place describes paying 40,000 Haitians $3 per day for 20 days to clean up around hospitals and dig latrines. That project also includes renting 10 excavators and loaders, at $600 each, and 10 dump trucks at $50 a load.

Just under one penny of each dollar is going straight to the shattered Haitian government, whose president is sleeping in a tent while struggling to organize an administration that was notoriously unstable even before the earthquake.

The U.S. rarely gives large amounts of money directly to governments, a practice that is "very defensible from my point of view," said John Simon, who coordinated U.S. responses to international disasters under President Bush's administration.

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