The PJ Tatler

Shocker: Most Ebola Money Never Made It To African Victims

Honestly, it like you just can’t trust anybody any more, especially in the Third World:

Almost $2.9bn (£1.92bn) was pledged by the end of 2014 in donations to fight west Africa’s Ebola epidemic, yet only about 40% had actually reached affected countries, researchers have said.

A study by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that tracked international donations showed barely $1.09bn had reached the worst affected countries by the end of last year, they said. “These delays … may have contributed to the spread of the virus and could have increased the financial needs,” said Karen Grepin, a global health policy expert at New York University who led the study and published it in the BMJ British medical journal.

The west Africa Ebola epidemic, the worst in history, has killed more than 8,800 people since it began more than a year ago, decimating already weak health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Its spread now appears to be slowing, especially in Liberia which now has just five cases.

Grepin analysed the level and speed of pledges made to fight Ebola and how they aligned with estimates of funds required to control the epidemic. She found not only that more than half of funds pledged by international donors had not reached the target countries, but also that global agencies had failed to reliably estimate the amount of money needed.

These kinds of stories are so depressingly familiar.

Americans texted tens of millions of dollars in donations and governments gave billions, but five years after an earthquake left corpses and rubble piled across Haiti, 85,000 people still live in crude displacement camps and many more in deplorable conditions. The disconnect between the massive amount of private and public aid and the poverty, disease and homelessness that still plague the country raises a question that critics say is too difficult to answer: Where did all that money go?

Ninety-five percent of the 1.5 million people who were in camps in 2010 have been moved, but many of them are still not in permanent housing. At least 200,000 people are in new hillside slums, known as Canaan-Jerusalem, where there are wooden and tin homes but no running water, electricity or sanitation yet.

A high-profile celebrity-backed charity is being probed for its use of funds, and some U.S.-backed projects have been scaled back or scrapped. “You have donors disburse money, but that doesn’t mean all that money is spent on the ground,” said Jake Johnston of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

There’s a Clinton connection too, of course. Somehow, there always is.