A five-year case study analysis of USAID local governance programming and public investment spending in post-earthquake Haiti

Vanessa L. Deane
World Development Perspectives, 32, 100546.

In the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the central government operations were paralyzed, and municipal officials became even more important as they were more readily able to respond to their constituents’ needs during this time of crisis. The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) five-year post-earthquake Limyè ak Òganizasyon pou Kolektivite yo Ale Lwen (LOKAL+) program aimed to bolster the capacity of municipalities – beyond this disaster event – through revenue mobilization activities, within quake-affected and non-quake affected areas. The intended outcome of this effort was to improve local public service delivery throughout Haiti.

Nearly all participating LOKAL+ municipalities experienced increased local revenue collection, particularly in property and business taxes, from 2012 through 2017. However, the impact of these increases on public investment spending was not evident even though this was a stated objective of the program. To evaluate whether public services improved in two of the nine LOKAL+ localities, due to USAID’s local revenue mobilization efforts, I employed a case study analysis using descriptive statistics, in-depth interviewing, and content analysis.

The findings revealed modest public service improvements in one of the two case study sites. However, the political climate within which LOKAL+ was executed – mainly, the unlawful installation of interim executive agents throughout the country at the time – had an observed impact on the study’s findings. The implications of country-specific political economic realities on the timing of donor-led local governance efforts are underscored, as Haiti continues to navigate compounding political crises – including the assassination of the President in 2021 – since the end of the LOKAL+ program.

Wagner Faculty