Charcoal cutting project failing in Haiti: audit

Trenton Daniel Associated Press, Published on Fri Mar 14 2014

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI—A U.S. program that seeks to save Haiti’s forests by shifting people away from charcoal stoves has largely failed to reach its goals, according to an audit by the U.S. Agency for International Department.

Few Haitians bought the alternative stoves, in large part because even the cheapest cost $10, while charcoal stoves go for as little as $2. The liquefied petroleum gas stoves aimed at commercial and institutional users cost about $100. The World Bank says nearly 80 per cent of Haiti’s 10 million people live on less than $2 a day.

The audit reported a lack of financing available to help people cover the costs.

It said only 337 of a hoped-for 4,550 street food vendors, orphanages, and schools shifted from charcoal to liquid petroleum gas, and a minority of those targeted for the smaller stoves made the switch.

Development professionals have often tried to wean people in poor countries away from charcoal stoves because creation of the fuel can devastate forests. Charcoal production is widely blamed for leaving Haiti with only 2 per cent of its original forest cover.

The $8.2 million project was launched in 2012 by Chemonics International Inc., a for-profit company based in Washington, D.C., that works throughout the developing world. It is among the many U.S. groups that received contracts to help Haiti rebuild following the 2010 earthquake.

The new audit is the latest to report that Chemonics failed to meet targets for its work in post-quake Haiti.

A review in 2012 revealed that a $53 million contract from USAID wasn’t on track to complete its work on time, had a weak monitoring system and didn’t involve community members. Two years prior, USAID auditors found the firm failed to hire thousands of Haitians as planned under a cash-for-work program, and instead spent the funds on equipment and materials.

Spokeswomen for Chemonics and USAID separately said that they welcomed the latest audit because its findings help improve performance.


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