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Archives for Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah

Ending Extreme Poverty with a New Model of Development

Tonight, 860 million people will go to sleep hungry. This year, 6.6 million children will die before their 5th birthday. And every day, 1.1 billion people around the world—more than the population of North and South America combined—live in extreme poverty on just a dollar-and-a-quarter a day.

Paschali Axweso Amnaay, chairman of the Mahande Rice Irrigation Scheme

Paschali Axweso Amnaay, chairman of the Mahande Rice Irrigation Scheme in Tanzania, along with many agri-businesses in the country, benefit from initiatives like Power Africa. Photo by: CNFA

Even after adjusting for the relative price of local commodities, this is a desperately meager sum. With it, families must make daily choices among food, medicine, housing, and education.

We know it doesn’t have to be this way. For the first time in history, we stand within reach of a world that was simply once unimaginable: a world without extreme poverty.

From 1990 to 2010, the number of children in school rose to nearly 90 percent, and around two billion people gained access to clean water. Child mortality rates have fallen by 47 percent and poverty rates by 52 percent. In 2005, for the first time on record, poverty rates began falling in every region of the world, including Africa.

We now have a clear roadmap out of extreme poverty that is driven by broad-based economic growth and transparent democratic governance. With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals drawing near—and conversations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda well underway—the global community has an opportunity to pioneer a new model of development and shape an inclusive, results-driven agenda that will end extreme poverty.

The Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness has built a strong foundation for this effort—tapping into the capabilities of governments, foundations, companies, and civil society organisations to solve the world’s greatest development challenges.

Through this new model of development, USAID is forging high-impact partnerships to harness innovation and scale meaningful results to end extreme poverty. This month, we launched the U.S. Global Development Lab, a hub of creative design and high-impact collaboration that is setting a new standard for development. Together with 32 cornerstone partners, the Lab will bring innovators and entrepreneurs from across the public and private sectors to answer the world’s most pressing development challenges through science and technology.

On April 3, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled the U.S. Global Development Lab.

On April 3, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled the U.S. Global Development Lab. Photo credit: USAID

Earlier this year, through our Development Credit Authority, USAID partnered with GE and Kenya Commercial Bank to help health care providers buy life-saving healthcare equipment, including portable ultrasound devices and Magnetic Resonance Imaging machines. For the first time ever, our private sector partner is covering the cost of the loan guarantee—making this program virtually costless for the taxpayer.

President Obama’s Power Africa initiative is another great example.

For most of the world, electricity allows businesses to flourish, clinics to store vaccines, and students to study long after dark. But for more than 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa, these opportunities simply do not exist. Power Africa encourages countries to make energy sector reforms—while connecting entrepreneurs to investment opportunities that are created by those reforms themselves.

Less than a year since launching, more than 5,500 mega-watts of power projects have been planned—putting us more than halfway towards the initiative’s goal of expanding electricity to 20 million homes and businesses. Just recently, we celebrated three local engineers who are lighting up Africa with solar-powered generators and pay-as-you-go power home meters.

Increasingly, the best ideas aren’t just coming from development professionals who have been in the field for three decades. They are also coming from scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs around the world. That is why we launched the Grand Challenges for Development and created the Development Innovation Ventures fund—to enable problem-solvers to test their game-changing idea, whether it’s a mobile technology that boosts hospital efficiency or a $10 device that prevents the leading cause of maternal mortality.

A few years ago, we were lucky if we got half-a-dozen proposals in response to our solicitations. So far, these new kinds of open competitions have received more than 6,000 applicants—each with the potential to transform development. Even better, 70 percent of proposals are from inventors who we’ve never worked with before.

We look forward to strengthening this new model of development at the first High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. Whether we work for a government agency or small local organisation, each of us can expand our emphasis on partnership and innovation. Each of us can deepen our focus on rigorous evaluation and scalable results. Working together, we can throw open the doors of development and engage millions of people in our mission to unlock a brighter future for all.


This post originally appeared on devex.com on April 11, 2014

Giving Thanks for Progress in the Fight Against Global Hunger

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

This Thursday, many of us will gather around tables piled high with turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. More importantly, we will pause to reflect on what we are thankful for and what we can do to help those who are less fortunate. From stocking the shelves of food pantries to wrapping gifts for children in need, the holiday season is a time of year when the spirit of compassion and generosity of American families is particularly apparent.

This has been especially true in the last few weeks, as the United States has rallied a swift and life-saving response in the Philippines, where Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 4,000 people. Our disaster response teams – civilian and military – have already reached tens of thousands of survivors. Less than ten days after the storm made landfall, we had the water system up and running in hardest-hit Tacloban, supplying 200,000 people with clean water. “Our military personnel and USAID team do this better than anybody in the world,” President Obama shared in a video message. I couldn’t agree more. In these moments of crisis, we’re proud to represent our nation’s tradition of generosity, especially as we celebrate a holiday with its roots in the spirit of gratitude.

A young boy in Tajikistan eats a healthy lunch. Photo credit: USAID

A young boy in Tajikistan eats a healthy lunch. Photo credit: USAID

At the end of the day, we remain committed to ensuring our assistance not only saves lives today, but reduces the risk of disaster tomorrow. From Syria (PDF) to Somalia, we’re working to bring long-term food security to the 840 million people around the world who go to bed hungry every night. We’re also working to reduce the high rates of poor nutrition that contribute to nearly half of all deaths in children under the age of five each year.

In the last year, we have directly helped more than 9 million households transform their farms and fields with our investments in agriculture and food security through Feed the Future. We’ve also reached 12 million children with nutrition programs that can prevent and treat undernutrition and improve child survival. While there is still a lot of work to be done, we’re helping transform the face of poverty and hunger around the world – advancing progress toward the Millennium Development Goal to halve the prevalence of hunger by 2015, a target that’s within reach if the global community continues to strengthen our focus and energy.

We know that hunger is not hopeless. It is solvable. If we continue to invest in smallholder farmers – especially women – and support good nutrition during the critical 1,000-day window from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday, we can meet the global challenge of sustainably increasing agricultural production for a growing population. By scaling up promising innovations from farm to market to table, we can tackle extreme poverty by the roots and shape a future of prosperity and progress.

This week, we’re thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this collective global effort and wish you and your families a happy Thanksgiving.

Want to be part of the solution to hunger and poverty? Find out how you can help contribute to typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines or learn more about how to get involved with Feed the Future. Led by USAID, Feed the Future draws on the agricultural, trade, investment, development and policy resources and expertise of 10 federal agencies. Learn more about USAID’s long history of leadership in agricultural development.

Video of the Week: POTUS on Typhoon Haiyan

This originally appeared on whitehouse.gov/typhoon.

On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan—known as Yolanda in the Philippines—made landfall in the central Philippines, bringing strong winds and heavy rains that have resulted in flooding, landslides, and widespread damage.

According to USAID, the storm affected an estimated 9.7 million people, and damaged or destroyed approximately 23,200 houses, as well as public infrastructure and agricultural land. Those numbers are expected to increase in the coming days as more information becomes available.

Learn more about how you can help and the Statement from USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah on Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Resources:

Click on the image view USAID's latest fact sheet on response and recovery efforts.

Click on the image view USAID’s latest fact sheet on response and recovery efforts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

Click on the map to view areas affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

 

 

Accelerating Development through Science, Innovation, and Partnership

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

On a visit to Rhode Island last month, I toured a factory called Edesia, where fifty employees manufacture a high-energy peanut paste to feed millions of starving children around the world. What is remarkable is that nutrient-packed meal did not exist ten years ago. It is the result of a decade of research backed by USAID to elevate the science behind creating foods that can restore severely malnourished children to health.

America has always led the world in advancing innovation to deliver unprecedented legacies for humanity. Across our proud history, it is when we harness American science and entrepreneurship that we achieve the greatest leaps in social and economic development. For example,  the Green Revolution pulled millions from starvation thanks to high-yield varieties of rice and oral rehydration solutions saved millions of children.

Americans can be proud of USAID’s history of embracing and then advancing science, technology, and innovation to create new solutions for age-old challenges. Today, we are building on this legacy with a renewed sense of focus and energy around the world.

In the last year, twenty USAID missions (see box) have stepped forward to work hand-in-hand with university and private sector partners to harness science, technology, innovation, and partnerships to advance development goals. Imagine them as field labs where we will demonstrate the real impact of new, cost-effective innovations. That means working closely with local communities to invent, test, and apply groundbreaking ideas to help end extreme poverty.

This is a real challenge. But it is achievable if we continue to reach out to the brightest minds on the planet to generate solutions to challenges like providing vitamin-rich food to children in crisis and producing affordable, renewable, off-grid energy.

Through Development Innovation Ventures, for example, we’re investing in a team of young graduates who started a company called EGG-Energy to provide families with rechargeable batteries they can rent to power their homes for five nights at a time. In Tanzania, where 90 percent of people lack access to electricity—but 80 percent live within 5 kilometers of the power grid – this could help a generation of children grow up with light.

Through mobile money platforms like the Better than Cash Alliance, we can accelerate financial inclusion for the 1.8 billion people with access to a phone but not a bank.

Through Global Development Alliances, we’re leveraging private sector resources and expertise to help diasporan entrepreneurs in the U.S. grow their businesses. One such company, Sproxil, developed a prescription medication verification system using a scratch card on each pack of medication revealing a numerical code. By texting the code to a toll-free phone number, you can verify whether the drug is genuine or possibly fake. Today, thanks in part to a seed grant that Sproxil won through the USAID-supported African Diaspora Marketplace, the company has introduced its products in five countries where it reaches over one million consumers.

Our Grand Challenges for Development offer innovators opportunities to apply their scientific and technological expertise to clearly defined development challenges. In the last three years, we’ve launched five challenges, and we have already identified many promising innovations, including the Pratt Pouch, which won our Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge. Designed by students at the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke  University, this low-cost foil pouch – similar to a ketchup packet – remains stable without refrigeration and allows mothers who give birth at home or far from a clinic to give their newborns medication to prevent HIV within the critical 48 hour window after birth.

We know that talent is everywhere, while opportunity is not. That is why our Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) is helping to level the playing field for scientists in developing countries. PEER is providing funding and mentoring support to developing country scientists working side-by-side with U.S. researchers who are funded by U.S. research agencies.  Together, these scientists are addressing a wide range of development-related topics, including health, food security, climate change, water, biodiversity, disaster mitigation, and renewable energy.

These are exciting times at USAID, and I’ve seen first-hand that the enthusiasm is contagious – from university halls to board rooms to research labs. Our challenge is to harness this wealth of energy and excitement to build a pathway out of poverty for millions of people around the world.

The 20 USAID Missions harnessing science, technology, innovation, and partnerships to advance development goals are:

Armenia Georgia Kenya RDMA
Bangladesh Haiti Mozambique South Africa
Brazil India Pakistan So. Africa Regional
Colombia Indonesia Peru Uganda
Egypt Jordan Philippines Yemen

 

USAID at UNGA 2013: Day Three

This year’s United Nations General Assembly focuses on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inclusive development goals for persons with disabilities. 

UNGA Day Three: September 25, 2013

Recap of Wednesday’s Events:

  • The Global Business Coalition for Education, chaired by Gordon Brown, hosted a breakfast meeting to facilitated conversations between the business community and the education sector with the overall goal of more coordinated collaboration to improve education. Malala Yousafzai was in attendance as a special guest and together she and Administrator Shah encouraged the business community to invest in improving educational outcomes, with a particular emphasis on increasing equitable access to quality education, especially for girls.

    Administrator Shah with Malala Yousafzai; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, founder of the Dangote Group (far left); Christie Vilsack, USAID Senior Advisor for International Education; and Malala's father (far right). Photo credit: USAID

    Administrator Shah with Malala Yousafzai; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, founder of the Dangote Group (far left); Christie Vilsack, USAID Senior Advisor for International Education; and Malala’s father (far right) at the Global Business Coalition for Education event. Photo credit: USAID

  • Administrator Shah gave opening remarks at the Learning for All: Education Finance and Delivery event. This event was a follow-on to the high-level “Learning for All” Round One Ministerial Meetings that took place in April. Gordon Brown and the Global Partnership for Education invited the Heads of State, Education Ministers and Finance Ministers from a new set of six countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Somalia and Chad – to hold meetings on accelerating progress toward Education First. Of these, two of the focus countries (Afghanistan and Pakistan) were USAID “Room to Learn” countries. The meeting was attended by Ban Ki Moon, Jim Kim, Gordon Brown, Irina Bukova (Director-General of UNESCO), the President of South Africa, the President of Mozambique, and many others.
  • As a part of the Learning for All meetings, Administrator Shah participated in the “Learning for all Pakistan” meeting.  The Administrator expressed the USG’s continued interest in working with the Government of Pakistan and provincial governments to improve access to education and education quality. He also encouraged Pakistani government official to continue to show increased leadership and commitment to education. Malala Yousafzai also spoke and expressed the importance of education, particularly for girls, In Pakistan and worldwide. She encouraged the leaders in Pakistan to further increase spending on education and make secondary school compulsory.
  • Yesterday afternoon Administrator Shah gave closing remarks at the Responsible Investments in Myanmar forum hosted by the Asia Society and McKinsey Global Institute. The forum discussed the challenges and opportunities of Burma‘s transformation and ways to foster sustained growth and development through responsible investment. The discussion centered on two reports — Asia Society’s Sustaining Myanmar’s Transition: Ten Critical Challenges and the McKinsey Global Institute’s Myanmar’s Moment: Unique Opportunities, Major Challenges.

New Blogs:

Event’s Happening Today at UNGA (Thursday, September 26th):

  • No public events scheduled today

Learn more about this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and its focus on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inclusive development goals for persons with disabilities.

Follow @USAID and @RajShah for ongoing updates during the week and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #UNGA and #UNGA2013.

USAID at UNGA 2013: Day Two

This year’s United Nations General Assembly focuses on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inclusive development goals for persons with disabilities. 

UNGA Day Two: September 24, 2013

Highlight:

President Obama delivered an address to the United National General Assembly. A number of outlets are reporting on the President’s announcement of an additional $339 million in humanitarian assistance to Syria.

Announcements:

  • As a part of the Better than Cash Alliance anniversary event, USAID announced that it is on a path to incorporating language into all grants and contracts to accelerate the use of electronic and mobile payments into its programs across the world.

Recap of Tuesday’s Events:

  • Yesterday afternoon Administrator Shah and DFID’s Justine Greening hosted the “MDG Countdown 2013 – Women & Girls” event. The event highlighted the progress made against the MDGs and focused on the work needing to be done over the next 828 days. The event included Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, Geena Davis, actress and UN Special Envoy for Women and Girls in the field of Technology and was moderated by NY Times reporter Nicholas Kristof.

Happening Today:

Learn more about this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and its focus on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inclusive development goals for persons with disabilities.

Follow @USAID and @RajShah for ongoing updates during the week and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #UNGA and #UNGA2013.

USAID at UNGA 2013: Day One

This year’s United Nations General Assembly focuses on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inclusive development goals for persons with disabilities. 

UNGA Day One: September 23, 2013

Highlight:

Yesterday afternoon, Administrator Shah sat down with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. During the live television interview, Dr. Shah discussed important role of businesses in development, the tragedy in Kenya, and the Agency’s ongoing mission to provide assistance amid a shrinking budget.

Announcements:

Recap of Events:

  • “Investing in Africa and Beyond” – To explore the state of impact investing as a complement to government funding, JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) hosted an evening program for 250 participants  on the first evening of UNGA from 5-7:30PM. The event provided an opportunity for investors to be catalytic in funding market-oriented solutions to meet social needs, and discuss how we can move the market forward via layered financing and new collaborations. The first panel, moderated by Economist reporter Matthew Bishop, featured Tony Blair and Administrator Shah. The panel addressed how to use innovative finance to address social needs in Africa. The second panel, featuring Bill Gates and Jamie Dimon, focused on breaking new ground on their new Global Health Investment Fund.

  • Social Good Summit:

    • Priya Jaisinghani spoke on a panel about mobile technology‘s role in financial inclusion, with Aldi Haryopratomo, the CEO of Ruma, Arjuna Costa of the Omidyar Network, and Casey Gheen of Lenddo. Priya spoke of the role that a lack of financial services may play in political and economic stability.
    • Later, Astronaut Ron Garan who is currently on detail to USAID, led a discussion on the need for global collaboration and coordination of data and information with Rob Baker, Presidential Innovation Fellow for Open Data, and Harbrinder Kang, Director of Business Development for Cisco. Ron spoke of seeing the world from the International Space Station and recognizing that we have the resources needed to solve global problems, but that we need to work together. Rob Baker discussed his experience with collaborative mapping in post-disaster situations, and spoke of the opportunity for Open Data.

Learn more about this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and its focus on the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and inclusive development goals for persons with disabilities.

Follow @USAID and @RajShah for ongoing updates during the week and join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #UNGA and #UNGA2013.

USAID in the News

WPRO630 99.7FM in Rhode Island covered USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah tour of the Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions, a Providence non-profit maker of fortified, high energy dense peanut pastes that the agency distributes as ready to use therapeutic food and supplementary food for distribution to countries such as Chad, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan and Syria.

Pallets of USAID-supplied food, water and supplies. Photo credit: USAID

Pallets of USAID-supplied food, water and supplies. Photo credit: USAID

Barrington Patch reported Navyn Salem, executive director of Edesia, led a tour of the small factory for USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras. The delegation donned white smocks and hair nets to get a first-hand look at a major supplier of fortified peanut-based, ready-to-use food products.  USAID, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and other agencies that address emergencies, conflict zones, and disadvantaged communities overseas buy the ready-to-use foods (RTUF). Shah was especially pleased with USIAD’s partnership with Edesia. These are “newly created, scientifically advanced food products that are designed to save the lives of some of the least fortunate people in the world,” Shah said. “From this facility, you reach 1.6 million kids in 35 countries.” Providence Journal cited Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions annually produce 6,000 metric tons of nutritional food supplements that are shipped around the world tAfro locations where war, famine or natural disaster have imperiled children’s lives. Its factory in Providence , now employs nearly 50 people, including former refugees from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Burma. Using mostly U.S.-sourced ingredients, Edesia makes and ships enough nutrition packets to aid about 600,000 children annually.

Fibre2Fashion, an online textile and fashion website reported that the Global demand for fashion, diversification of sourcing and manufacturing locations around the world, along with the growing African middle class has stimulated demand for stylish, African-made apparel. USAID Africa Trade Hubs build momentum by supporting efforts, such as the Origin Africa Designer Showcase, to promote Africa as a reliable sourcing destination and to help African business take advantage of trade opportunities available under AGOA.

Christian Science Monitor noted that Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI) will team up with USAID to create an easy-to-use database of Congolese community-based organizations. “Through the database and the landscape analysis, USAID and ECI have laid the groundwork for augmenting foreign assistance in Eastern Congo,” said USAID’s Global Partnerships Division Director Christopher Jurgens. “Serving as a model of strategic investment in the region, the partnership’s assessment will shape future engagement and elevate awareness and commitment to the region within international development and donor communities.”

The Hill reports that “in a letter sent Tuesday to national security adviser Susan Rice,” a group of 22 lawmakers called for a “more efficient system” to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced persons within Syria. Ahead of the impending strikes, the House Democrats want “Rice to work with the State Department and USAID to establish training, capacity building, and aid delivery partnerships with Syrian relief organizations in order to expand their operations.’”

starbucks-coffee-logoCNN continues to cover plans to establish Starbucks franchises throughout Columbia, and intends to work with two firms with “experience in the region: Latin American restaurant operator Alsea and food company Grupo Nutresa.” The Seattle-based giant is also “teaming up with the US Agency for International Development,” a private-public partnership that “includes a three-year, $1.5 million commitment from each to support the Starbucks Farmer Support Center.”

The AP reports that on Monday, Starbucks announced plans “to open its first cafe in Colombia.” In addition, the company “announced a $3 million partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development to help Colombian farmers boost coffee yields and economic stability.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the USAID partnership will help to provide technical and agronomy support to farmers in Colombia. Bloomberg Business Week reports that “Starbucks and USAID are each investing $1.5 million during the next three years for research to help small-plot coffee farmers in Colombia.” The piece notes that “USAID has initiated other projects to help areas in Colombia affected by internal conflict, drug trafficking and violence.” Reuters quotes USAID chief Raj Shah, who said that the focus of the initiative is to reduce “extreme poverty, which is still a reality for almost all of these small-scale coffee growers that have barely one hectare (2.5 acres) of land.”

AllGov.com profiled Nisha Desai Biswal, the newly-nominated next assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia Affairs. The piece notes that Biswal, “assistant administrator for Asia at the U.S. Agency for International Development,” “will be the first person of South Asian origin to head the bureau.”

Washington Blade highlighted thirty activists from across Colombia are attending a four-day training in the city of Cartagena designed to encourage LGBT people to become more involved in the country’s political process.  The training is the second to take place in the South American country as part of the USAID-backed LGBT Global Development Partnership that will contribute $11 million over the next four years to advocacy groups in Ecuador and other developing countries.

Keeping our Promise on Aid Transparency

I am proud to announce a significant step forward in our efforts to deliver development results more transparently and effectively than ever before. For the first time ever, you can visit the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and check out how our partners have spent our dollars.

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

Today’s unprecedented release of new financial data  includes over 30 database fields and nearly 53,000 records—all from the first three quarters of fiscal year 2013. Never before has our Agency published spending data so comprehensively and so soon after the close of the quarter.

This release is just the latest in a series of important changes we have made to advance President Obama’s unparalleled commitment to transparency and our own USAID Forward reform agenda. Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has created foreignassistance.gov, signed onto the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, and joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which showcases our data in an open, timely, and internationally compatible format. The data that we are adding today will be converted to this format and reported to the IATI registry, helping the U.S. government meet the commitments that we made at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan in November 2011.

Our commitment to transparencyhas not only helped strengthen accountability and improve communication; it has also had a direct impact on the way we work every day. A few months ago, we opened up some of the data behind our Famine Early Warning Systems Network, which monitors factors like rainfall, market prices, and incomes around the world. Within weeks of making that information public, small businesses in Kenya were using the data in a new way—empowering farmers in remote villages with the information they need to negotiate better prices for their crops.

With today’s unprecedented release of new financial data on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, you can see timely information about what, where, how and with whom we spend our development dollars.

Most importantly, we want our data to be easy to understand, use, and share.  In May, President Obama signed an Executive Order making government information

open and machine readable as the new default. In support of this vision, we have created apps for the iPhone and iPad so you can explore our high-quality project evaluations, Demographic Health Surveys results for more than 80 countries, and a USAID map of our programs around the world.  In fact, I recently had the opportunity to show these apps to President Obama while we were traveling in Africa, and he was excited about the even greater potential we have to open our wealth of data to millions of entrepreneurs, innovators, and students around the world.

I encourage you to explore the data, download our apps, and think creatively about ways you can help us harness the power of information to end extreme poverty around the world.

“Come Back at Night and You Will Understand”

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

This plain-spoken answer—from a father who lived in a village without access to electricity—came in response to the question: What is life like without electrical power?

For most of the world, electricity allows business to flourish, students to study, and clinics to run long after the sun goes down. But for 600 million Africans, these opportunities simply don’t exist.

As a result, a sick child in Nigeria is unable to take antibiotics because the medication has to be refrigerated. A farmer in northern Ghana purchases a cell phone to connect himself with the world, but every other day he has to walk to the nearest electrified village and pay to charge the phone—a waste of time and money.

These difficulties are repeated on a large scale across the continent. Nearly half of all businesses try to cope with frequent power outages by using expensive stand-alone diesel generators that also pollute the environment. These stop-gap measures are no basis on which to build a modern economy.

In order to shape a brighter future, we cannot rely on donors alone. African countries must have transparent, accountable, and streamlined systems that attract private investors and developers. To help shape this environment, the United States, together with African governments and the international business community, is kicking off an initiative to bring more reliable, clean power to Africa. Announced by President Obama in Cape Town, Power Africa will create the conditions needed for long-term investments in energy infrastructure – generators, transmission lines and distribution systems. In ten years, we’ll bring 10,000 megawatts on line – and bring power to millions of African homes and businesses.

At its core, Power Africa represents a new model for development that is beginning to define the way we work around the world. Like the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition and the Call to Action in Child Survival, Power Africa harnesses public-private partnerships and demands greater accountability from our partners to deliver incredible results.

On his trip to Africa, the President recognized the profound potential of this new model. “[Power Africa] is representative of my new approach when it comes to development,” President Obama explained in Tanzania. ”I believe the purpose of development should be to build capacity and to help other countries actually stand on their own feet… Instead of perpetual aid, development has to fuel investment and economic growth so that assistance is no longer necessary.”

Through Power Africa, we will help create incentives and reduce risk for American investors in Africa, while working with African governments to modernize inefficient old networks and establish fair and transparent partnerships with the private sector. We will also be working with businesses themselves – American, African, and others. Investment specialists will analyze barriers to investment and then work with all parties to remove those roadblocks.

Once the first Power Africa projects succeed in bringing electrical power to African communities, the impact of those examples will encourage other ventures to follow in their footsteps. Electricity provides the countless opportunities and freedoms that define development.  It will take a great deal of commitment and patience to solve this problem, but today we know it can be solved.

Resource:

Follow @USAIDAfrica on Twitter to learn about our global development work in the continent!

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