THE US Embassy told Newsday it was satisfied with the accountability of recipients of aid it had given to help alleviate fallout from the Venezuelan migrant influx to Trinidad and Tobago.
Ambassador Joseph Mondello, in a recent statement on the situation in Venezuela, had said the US had in recent times donated US$11 million towards alleviation, but in response the Prime Minister said he knew nothing of it, speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing.
The embassy soon afterwards published a list of 14 recipients, the type of aid and the amounts allocated.
This included Democracy International getting US$1.5 million, UNHCR (US$1.9 million), Pan American Development Fund (US$1.2 million), International Office of Migration (US$1.1 million),TT Defence Force Heliport (US$88,692) and Living Water Community (US$48,500.)
Newsday asked how the US ensured the accountability of donation recipients.
The embassy replied, “The US government maintains strong accountability mechanisms for all of our foreign assistance programs. Our implementing partners must submit itemised budget proposals that outline how funds will be spent and our partners are also required to submit periodic activity reports.
“US government grants are overseen by a grants officer representative who regularly monitors programs and ensures that funds are being effectively and efficiently utilised.”
Newsday asked about the US$88,692 or half-million TT dollar grant towards the heliport. Was it viewed as an allocation to the State/Government of TT via the Defence Force, or as charity to shelter migrants at that facility?
The embassy replied, “The heliport donation was made to the Ministry of Health, which is the agency responsible for all covid19 quarantine facilities, and to the Ministry of National Security (TTDF) which is responsible for the heliport covid facility.”
On US$650 allocated for potable water at Icacos/Cedros, the embassy said this was to ensure proper sanitation and health measures, particularly during the covid19 pandemic.
“The US government donated two water tanks and sinks to assist the local government in Icacos/Cedros in providing potable water to a community of Venezuelans.
“Until the donation, the Venezuelans in this location could only access water from the ground via a makeshift well.”
The local authority for Icacos/Cedros is Siparia Regional Corporation.
For Venezuelans in need of help such as psychological counselling, such services are provided by way of the US$1.5 million allocation to Democracy International, in its Community Resilience Initiative. The embassy explained, “According to USAID, Living Water offered remote and in-person counselling and Families in Action set up a 24-hour bilingual hotline, in-person sessions, and created a women’s support group.”