Shortly after arriving in Pakistan on Tuesday, I met with retired General Nadeem Ahmed, the chairman of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority. As the general took me up in a military helicopter to inspect the once-beautiful but ravaged Swat valley, we spoke openly and candidly about the true extent of the damage wrought by the floodwaters.
As was clearly visible in areas where the waters had receded, the real work to bring Pakistan back to life has yet to start. As far as the eye could see, foundations and buttresses supported nonexistent houses and bridges, power lines lay hopelessly tangled on the ground, and roads destroyed and washed away. A layer of mud coated the landscape like brown paint and the normally sparkling, turquoise Swat river has become a river of mud. As I look around me, it is obvious that Pakistan faces the biggest challenge in its 64-year history.
As I convene my senior staff tonight, we will fine-tune a plan that top USAID officials have been formulating since the scope of the disaster became apparent. Throughout the flight, General Nadeem pointed out schools and medical centers that are still standing that were built with the help of USAID. One thing is clear, though, which is that the United States intends to show itself as a friend and committed partner of Pakistan for many years to come.
Administrator Shah will officially swear-in Alex Dickie to be the Mission Director-designate to Iraq and Mike Harvey to be the Mission Director-designate to West Bank Gaza.
Secretary Clinton gives a speech on the Global Health Initiative (GHI) at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. The GHI is building on the Bush Administration’s successful record in global health, and taking these remarkable achievements to the next level by further accelerating progress and investing in sustainable health delivery systems.
Administrator Shah will join President Obama at the White House for a town hall during the Presidential Young African Leaders Forum. As a global leader in empowering and engaging youth, USAID works to ensure that young people have access to skills and opportunities to be active and effective citizens who contribute to their country’s overall stability and development.
Ambassador Garvelink, Deputy Coordinator of Feed the Future, will speak at two sessions during the International Food Aid and Development Conference in Kansas City. His keynote address will underscore the U.S. commitment to addressing global hunger and food security, highlighting the whole-of-government approach and goals of Feed the Future.
Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Management Drew Luten will testify before the Commission on Wartime Contracting on Subcontracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Administrator Shah and Ambassador Richard Holbrooke will appear before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations for an oversight hearing on corruption in Afghanistan.
Chief Innovation Officer Maura O’Neill will participate in a briefing entitled: Innovation to Catalyze Development: Leveraging Research in Foreign Assistance, which is organized by the Global Health Technologies Coalition and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.
Administrator Shah will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere about: The Crisis in Haiti: Are We Moving Fast Enough? He will also brief the Congressional Black Caucus about efforts in Haiti.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah is in Afghanistan and Pakistan to meet with USAID mission personnel, visit USAID projects and attend the Pakistan Strategic Dialogue and the Kabul Conference with Secretary Clinton. The Conference will reinforce the commitment of the Government of Afghanistan and the international community to work together to realize the goal of full Afghan ownership and responsibility for a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
Technical leaders from USAID’s office of HIV/AIDS are part of the U.S. delegation to the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria. Notably, results from a USAID-funded microbicides trial will be released at the conference on Tuesday. The trial was conducted in South Africa in close partnership with the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), the CONRAD Program, and Family Health International.
Dr. Raj Shah at the launch of the Pakistan Ministry of Health’s new Birthspacing Initiative to Improve Maternal, Newborn, Infant and Child Mortality. Photo by Amy Koler.
The U.S. and Pakistan have consulted closely on the shared objectives of addressing Pakistan’s National Health Policy, which outlines the priorities for the nation, which include family planning, maternal and child health, workforce development, and combating infectious diseases to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
On Sunday, Dr. Shah attended the launch of the Pakistan Ministry of Health’s new Birthspacing Initiative to Improve Maternal, Newborn, Infant and Child Mortality. “Overall, (the strategy) will help ensure that pregnancies occur at the healthiest times of women’s lives. Specifically, it will help reduce high risk pregnancies – those that occur at too late or too early an age, or too soon after a previous pregnancy – through greater use of birth spacing services,” he said.
The Obama administration recognizes that the key to improving health is to strengthen country and local ownership, especially at the community level. “ We know that strong national leadership and capacities are essential for development progress. Health systems can only thrive where there is wise leadership investing in people, institutions and infrastructure; particularly where governments are responsive and accountable to their citizens.
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submitted by Amanda Parsons
Science Magazine’s Insider Blog looks at how USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah brought together the world’s leading science minds this week during a 2-day conference to focus and highlight the ways innovation, science and technology can revitalize the development agency. Shah hopes science and technology can help the agency solve “grand challenges” in global development and used the workshop to pose broad questions about how USAID could identify, select, and implement these challenges. USAID had solicited input via a Web site for possible ideas like “a model toilet of the future for the poor.” About 60 people from academia, industry, and government have begun to whittle down the list and brainstorm about how to proceed.
On Monday, Secretary Clinton and Dr. Rajiv Shah gave remarks regarding the status of Haiti six months after a devastating earthquake ravaged the small nation. The AFP reports that the duo reconfirmed their commitment to reconstruction and development after the disaster. Secretary Clinton stated, “Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished. We are committed to aligning our investments with the needs of the people and the government of Haiti.” Dr. Shah emphasized the idea of stricter construction codes and working with local partners to achieve a responsible and functional outcome.
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Today is the six-month commemoration of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. Administrator Shah just returned from a trip to Haiti and issued a statement to mark the commemoration.
USAID is hosting a conference entitled Transforming Development through Science, Technology and Innovation. The conference is co-hosted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the President’s Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren. Participants include many of the world’s leading scientists and development thinkers, along with leaders of key federal science agencies who will help map out USAID’s bold new science, technology and innovation agenda.
submitted by Anna Gohmann
Administrator Shah released the following statement on the six-month commemoration of the 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010:
“Today, we pause to reflect on the tragedy that struck Haiti six months ago and claimed the lives of more than 230,000 people. In the wake of the devastation, countless more were left injured and 1.5 million were displaced and moved into spontaneous settlements across greater Port-au-Prince.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, USAID participated in the largest urban food distribution in history and fed more than 3.5 million people. We helped distribute emergency shelter to 1 million people. And we supported a campaign to vaccinate more than one million Haitians against diseases and outbreaks that could have decimated the population.
But our work has only just begun and significant challenges lay before Haiti and the international community. The US has committed more than $1 billion to Haiti’s long-term reconstruction and development. USAID is working with our colleagues at the Department of State and others across the Federal Government to apply the experience and knowledge of our development experts to high-impact projects in five key areas: agriculture, energy, governance support, infrastructure, and health.
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