By Oli Foster, Michele Mitchell and Edward Head
When a devastating 7.0 earthquake leveled Haiti in January 2010, the world responded. In America alone, half of all households donated a stunning $1.4 billion to a total of 23 major charities. It was called “Humanitiarian Aid 2.0”–but where exactly did all that money go?
Ten months after the quake, Film At 11 went to Haiti to find out—and what they found was the big business of emergency aid. Some say that what is happening there is nothing more than “disaster profiteering”. Others say relief organisations are just doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances. The fact is that more than a year after the earthquake, roughly 1.5 million Haitians remained homeless in squalid camps.
70% of those camps had no latrines, and in the ones that did, thousands of people share a single toilet. Malnutrition was on the rise. The lack of potable water caused a rise in infections. Cholera was a constant threat, and about 98% of the rubble remained un-cleared. With at least 10,000 known aid groups now operating in Haiti—the most per capita in the world— filmmaker Michele Mitchell asked a simple question: why are people still living like this?
The aid agencies told her they were just starting to spend the money. So, 20 months after the earthquake, we went back again. And we found the conditions to be…even worse. The camp situation is still dire – Camp Canaan II is home to 5,000 people who share 6 toilets. In another, over 9,000 people share just 10 latrines.
Through interviews with the American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, anthropologists, aid experts and more, this fascinating hour uses the situation in Haiti to explore how disaster aid really works, why it often doesn’t, and which organisations are the most effective on the ground. Film At 11 walked hundreds of camps, twice; and, they let the Haitians tell their own story, especially a 25-year-old mother of two small children, Wilna Vital.
This story is not just about Haiti. It is about what happens routinely in disaster zones around the world—in undeveloped and developed nations—and poses the question: shouldn’t we try to do better at doing good?