Red Cross Doesn’t Know What Happened to Half a Billion Dollars of Haiti Donations

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red1-728x400The American Red Cross is under pressure this week to answer detailed questions from Congress about the spending of nearly half a billion dollars it raised after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

But internal documents newly obtained by ProPublica and NPR call into question whether the Red Cross itself has an accurate accounting of how money was spent.

The reports, assessments from 2012 of some of the group’s health and water projects, conclude that the charity failed to properly track its own spending, oversee projects, or even know whether or not they were successful. The documents also cast doubt on the accuracy of the Red Cross’ public claims about how many Haitians the group has helped.

An internal evaluation of one of the group’s water and sanitation projects found there was “no correct process for monitoring project spending.”

Another report concluded that the Red Cross’ figures on the number of people helped in a hygiene promotion project were “fairly meaningless.”

The findings parallel ProPublica and NPR’s earlier reporting about the Red Cross’troubled Haiti program. The group has so far not given details of how it spent the almost $500 million in donations for Haiti.

Asked about the internal reports and what the Red Cross did in response to the concerns they raised, spokesperson Suzy DeFrancis said in an email that the group would no longer respond to questions from ProPublica and NPR. (Read the email.)

The consultant who wrote one of the evaluations, Bonnie Kittle, told us the Red Cross followed up by hiring her to train staff in Haiti how to work more effectively.

Here are more details from the reports:

The Red Cross didn’t track the work of some of the aid groups it gave money to, at least one of which “mismanaged funds.”

As we detailed in our earlier story, the Red Cross took much of the nearly $500 million donated for Haiti and passed it on to other aid groups, keeping a portion to cover its overhead.

The Red Cross’ oversight of some of those grants – $10 million for cholera projects – was so poor that “at least one partner mismanaged their funds unbeknownst to ARC,” one report says, using the acronym for the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross also did not assess whether the cholera projects were effective. “None of the cholera program partner’s work has been evaluated by ARC and ARC doesn’t know for sure if the objectives were achieved.”

Overall, “financial procedures for project tracking … need to be put in place prior to the next disaster that ARC responds to,” another report notes.

Read more at huffingtonpost.com

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