The Netherlands Cooperative Aid Agencies (SHO) have made significant progress in the reconstruction of Haiti and have used Dutch donations to provide long-term aid to vulnerable groups of people. They have been impeded, however, by the poor functioning of the Haitian government, a cholera epidemic and organisational problems. There have been improvements in the accounts kept for the use of aid. These findings are presented in a follow-up audit report, Accounting for Haiti aid donations 2011, issued by the Netherlands Court of Audit.
By the end of 2011, the aid agencies had spent €68 million of the €112 million donated for emergency relief and reconstruction. The money had been spent on houses, latrines, schools, health care and microcredits to those in need. The SHO selects the recipients carefully so that those in the greatest need are helped first. The recipients also have a large say in the aid programmes and the agencies recognise the importance of designing sustainable houses and schools.
There are also impediments to the aid agencies' work. External impediments include a cholera outbreak and the poor functioning of the Haitian government. Internal impediments include the overambitious scope of the agencies' activities and organisational problems implementing the aid programmes. Furthermore, coordination among the aid agencies on the ground is weak.
Our audit found that there had been improvements in the accounts kept by both the SHO and its member organisations in 2011. The accounts reveal that a complex chain of organisations is involved in the aid programmes. This makes it difficult to allocate costs and results to the correct donor. The aid agencies could cut their costs, reduce the accounting burden and increase transparency by:
Our audit found that the SHO's accounts were kept in accordance with the agreements made with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
To increase the effectiveness, efficiency and transparency of future aid campaigns, we recommend that the SHO:
We further repeat our recommendation that the SHO widen the scope of the audit carried out by its external auditor.
The State Secretary for Foreign Affairs thought our report was balanced. He accepted our recommendations and would take them into account in future aid campaigns. The SHO thought it and its members would benefit from the recommendations regarding its procedures and management. It also noted that the compulsory use of proportional allocation would increase the accounting burden.