How The Red Cross Raised Half A Billion Dollars For Haiti Disaster Relief — And Built Six Homes

After the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, the American Red Cross has raised almost half a billion dollars in disaster relief to help the Caribbean country recover.

Since then, the charity organization publicly celebrated their efforts and claimed to have provided homes for more than 130,000 people in Haiti.

But a new report by ProPublica and NPR says otherwise.

The report brought to light not only the disarray behind the scenes of the organization — with emails from concerned top officers and accounts of frustration and disappointments from broken promises and squandered donations — but also the fact that only a total of six permanent houses were built with the money raised.

Red Cross had also launched a multi-million dollar project called LAMIKA, which was started in 2011 with the focus of building hundreds of permanent homes for Haitians in the poor Port-au-Prince area of Campeche.

However, today, not even one home has been built in the dismal neighborhood. Many residents continue to live in metal sheet shacks with no drinking water, electricity, or basic sanitation.

According to ProPublica, much of the Red Cross’ failure comes from their passing of monies to other groups with more expertise in building projects. This then results in fewer funds reaching those who are actually in need.

“Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges,” the Red Cross told ProPublica.

The failure to capably deliver relief after a disaster is something that the non-profit group has done on several occasions, including their response after Superstorm Sandy.

Some current and past employees of Red Cross also added that another aid impediment in Haiti was caused by the language barrier between the Haitians, who speak French Creole, and the aid workers.


This exposé by NPR and ProPublica is not the first time Red Cross has been under scrutiny for the authenticity of their aid efforts in a disaster response.

Following the organization’s relief efforts with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many complaints were lodged, and they received sharp criticism for spending donated funds on internal company affairs.

Since their grandeur claims of aid in Haiti were found to be greatly exaggerated, the Red Cross has yet to disclose the real details of how it managed to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars that were donated for the country’s relief.

[Image: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]