USAID Impact Photo Credit: USAID and Partners

Archives for Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah

Proof that the U.S. Government, NGOs and Activists are Working Together on Nutrition

During the first week of June, IMPACT will be highlighting the role of nutrition in Global Health

This originally appeared on the ONE Campaign blog

This morning, USAID Administrator Raj Shah joined a Google+ Hangout – a group video chat – with ONE’s U.S. Executive Director Tom Hart and a group of ONE members and agriculture policy experts from Feed the Future, GAIN, Thousand Days and Future Fortified.

USAID Administrator Raj Shah with ONE’s U.S. Executive Director Tom Hart. Photo credit: ONE.org

Tom gave Administrator Shah a fat stack of 100,336 petition signatures from ONE members across the US. Their ask? End chronic malnutrition for 25 million children by 2016. Administrator Shah heard them loud and clear, with two ONE members, George Houk and Vanessa Avila, as witnesses and representatives of our U.S. membership.

One of the highlights of the Hangout was hearing Administrator Shah talk about how global food security is in fact in America’s best interest.

“We know that this [nutrition] is an issue that touches on the economic prospects of countries that will be our trading partners in the future, it touches on our national security in places ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia, where far too many children die of core underlying malnutrition, and most importantly, we know it just touches on our moral consciouness because we cannot live in 2013 knowing that hundreds of millions of children go hungry and that that hunger prevents them from learning in school, from fighting disease, from surviving a simple bout of diarrhea or pneumonia and of building a better future for themselves,” he said.

After handing off the petition signatures, the conversation turned to our agriculture policy experts, Tjada McKenna, Deputy Coordinator for Development at Feed the Future, and Lucy Sullivan, Executive Director of 1,000 Days, and guest foodie activist, Chef Candice Kumai, a nutrition champion for Future Fortified. Adrianna Logalbo from GAIN moderated a lively discussion on the importance of agriculture, some of the successes and progress the world has made on nutrition, and how everyday citizens can get more involved.

Watch the full Google+ Hangout here:

Administrator Shah will be off to the pre-G8 Summit event, Nutrition for Growth, next week, with your petition signatures in hand. Stay tuned to ONE.org for updates on this important and critical event.

Learn more about USAID’s work on improving nutrition

Follow USAID (@USAID) on Twitter and use #GHMatters to join in the conversation.

Photo of the Week: USAID Launches Water Strategy

Globally, over 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.5 billion people lack access to sanitation. Projections are that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in severe water stress conditions. To address these global water-related development needs,  Administrator Rajiv Shah will join Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) to release the U.S. Government’s first Water and Development strategy in Washington today. Its purpose is to provide a clear understanding of USAID’s approach to water programming, emphasizing how sustainable use of water is critical to saving lives. The new water strategy has health and food security as priorities, highlighting the critical role of water in saving lives.

Read the entire USAID Water and Development Strategy.

Follow @USAID on Twitter and join the conversation with #WaterStrategy.

Harnessing the Commitment & Energy of Diaspora Communities to Transform Development

Rajiv Shah serves as Administrator at USAID

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet a Syrian-American trauma surgeon who told me about the multiple trips he had taken to Syria with other doctors to help remove shrapnel from the bodies of children.

As I listened to him share these devastating experiences, I knew that his story reflected the tremendous contributions of Syrian-Americans to the humanitarian response. Every day, at great risk to their own lives, they were caring for the injured, training doctors in triage and medicine, and helping deliver lifesaving medical supplies throughout Syria.

Whether we’re talking about the struggle for freedom in Syria or the fragile–but remarkable–transition happening in Burma, we know the diaspora community has a uniquely important role to play in addressing the challenges of today and shaping a brighter future for tomorrow.

Last year, global remittances topped $534 billion—more than 5 times U.S. official development assistance. So often the result of long hours and sacrifices, these contributions mean so much more than their monetary value. They mean the chance for a child to afford her school uniform. The chance for a young man to take out a loan and open a business. And sometimes, they make the difference between life and death – when they allow a family to buy food in tough times.

We are determined to work together to ensure the each dollar saved and each dollar transferred can make a lasting impact. Through our Development Innovations Fund, we’re partnering with a major Filipino bank, a Filipino education NGO, and a group of researchers from the University of Michigan to pilot a financial innovation called EduPay. The tool allows overseas individuals to pay school fees directly to educational institutions in the Philippines, instead of channeling the funds through an informal trustee. The tool also goes one step further by enabling you to monitor the student’s attendance and performance so you can be sure you’re supporting a quality education.

Whether saving money to send home, building a business from the ground up, or partnering with us in response to a crisis, the commitment and energy of diaspora communities holds the potential of transforming developing countries around the world. Through a partnership with Western Union, we’re helping support diaspora leaders who have a great idea to start a business, but need the resources to get it off the ground. Since 2009, the African Diaspora Marketplace has provided grants to 31 companies, totaling more than $2.2 million.

At USAID, we’re increasingly focusing on providing a platform to connect problem-solvers everywhere to the greatest challenges of our time. We call it “open-source development,” and it reflects our desire to harness the creativity and expertise of a much broader development community. Through our new model of development, we aren’t focused on our solutions. We’re focused on yours.

To learn more about the Global Diaspora Forum or to learn how to partner with USAID, the State Department, and the private sector, please visit: http://diasporaalliance.org/.

Join conversation on Twitter (@USAID) using #2013GDF.

USAID in the News

Food Aid Reform

In an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack explain “our hallmark food assistance program has not evolved with the times.” President Obama has proposed a number of reforms that could help the U.S.  ”feed up to 4 million more hungry people every year” while reducing costs. From purchasing locally-sourced food to using electronic payments, the officials say such strategies can help the U.S. “carry out its development mission more effectively and efficiently – not to perpetuate dependency, but to advance human dignity.”

In an editorial, the Chicago Tribune says it considers the current Food for Peace program a “terribly expensive and inefficient system. We’re pleased to see the Obama administration make a run at changing that… the administration has proposed a modest reform that can save money and feed more people.” The editorial continues,  ”Food aid can help to lift developing nations out of poverty, promote political stability and economic growth. It must be structured efficiently to achieve its objective. Reforming food aid would enable America to do justice to a large taxpayer outlay – and to save lives.”

USAID, Swedish Ministry for International Development, and African Development Bank launch Agriculture Fast Track at World Economic Forum

Business Day Live reports, the “fund – called Agriculture Fast Track – is the first of its kind and marks a new approach to development aid by western donors, that aims to promote economic growth through commercial agriculture.” In short, “Agriculture Fast Track’s purpose will be to fund some of the front-end costs of developing agricultural infrastructure, such as scoping, project design and feasibility studies, with the aim of leveraging private funding to commit to the projects.”

Feeding Africa’s Future

This originally appeared on the World Economic Forum Blog.

Today, we have the tools and knowledge to end extreme poverty and hunger by working together to transform agriculture. This isn’t just a development hypothesis; it’s actually happening.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to see firsthand the dramatic results of an emerging agriculture transformation on a visit to Tanzania. In just one year, rice yields have increased by over 50% and horticulture yields by 44% – early progress being reflected in farms and fields across Africa.

Across the continent, African nations are taking concrete steps to make agricultural development like this a priority, lifting families out of poverty and increasing their participation in the global economy.

A farmer picks coffee beans in Nyeri. Photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer

More than 20 countries in Africa have developed country-owned investment plans and at least seven have increased expenditures in agriculture. African nations have come together under a common vision to make progress like this possible and reduce underinvestment in agriculture to put their continent on a new course towards sustainable, inclusive development.

Grow Africa is helping that vision become reality.

Grow Africa is a partnership of the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, and the World Economic Forum. After only one year, it is already seeing results by working with eight African countries to engage governments, civil society, and the private sector to advance sustainable agricultural growth. These partnerships have already invested more than US$ 60 million in agriculture and reached more than 800,000 smallholder farmers, connecting them to markets and innovative tools and opportunities.

We are excited to be a part of this progress, supporting Grow Africa and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) through Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative. Feed the Future targets investments in countries that have demonstrated a commitment to their own agricultural development. This past year, we helped more than 7 million farmers around the world apply new technologies and practices, four times the number we reached the previous year.

To expand this progress and reach more people across the continent, President Obama announced the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition at the 2012 G8 Summit. Much like Grow Africa, this global partnership brings together African governments, the private sector, and donors to accelerate investment in agriculture through market-oriented reforms and new private sector commitments.

African nations are leading progress on this effort. Tanzania has removed its export ban on staple commodities, Mozambique eliminated permit requirements for inter-district trade, and Ethiopia no longer imposes export quotas on commercial farm outputs and processed goods. At the same time, more than 60 companies – half of them local African firms – have committed US$ 3.7 billion towards African agriculture, with plans to lift 50 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years.

This week, we will announce with our partners new efforts that will catalyze private sector investments in agricultural infrastructure in Africa and strengthen capacity in African agriculture sectors. These efforts align with our commitments through Feed the Future and the New Alliance to help reduce poverty, hunger and undernutrition.

Earlier this year, during the State of the Union address, President Obama called on the United States to help end extreme poverty in the next two decades. The President spoke from the belief that even in a time of tight budgets around the world, we can still come together to accomplish incredible goals.

We can’t do it without our partners. We look forward to continuing to support country-led efforts like Grow Africa, building momentum towards a future free of extreme poverty and hunger.

Rajiv Shah is Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Follow him on Twitter @RajShah

Administrator Testifies on FY 2014 Budget Request

With the completion of Administrator Shah’s final congressional hearing on the FY 2014 President’s Budget Request for USAID, I want to highlight that this budget reflects the development priorities of this Administration while making difficult tradeoffs due to the constrained budget realities.  USAID has prioritized resources to countries and programs where they are most needed, most cost-effective, and can lead to long-term, sustainable results.

"The 2014 Budget Proposal for Food Aid Reform allows us to reach 4 million additional children" - Administrator Rajiv Shah testifying before the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee. Photo Credit: USAID

A prime example of our commitment to maximize the effectiveness of USAID programs is the President’s Food Aid Reform Proposal.  This proposal, if enacted, would give the U.S. Government the ability to feed up to 4 million additional people with comparable resources, through more efficient food assistance.  Throughout the President’s budget, we’ve been similarly focused on maximizing results for every dollar spent. The FY 2014 Budget Request enables USAID and its partners around the world to:

  • Ensure food security and progress toward ending hunger
  • End preventable child death
  • Strengthen program effectiveness through USAID Forward
  • Build resilience to recurrent crisis and climate change
  • Support strategic priorities and promote democratic governance and economic growth
  • Provide live-saving responses to areas with the most vulnerable populations
  • Continue USAID’s commitment to be more focused and selective about the countries and areas in which we work.

The FY 2014 budget is the result of efforts that began more than a year ago. The budget process requires input from over a hundred State and USAID missions abroad, regional and functional bureaus in Washington, leadership within the Department of State and USAID, as well as the White House Office of Management and Budget.  This rigorous process aligns resource planning with strategic priorities including from the U.S. Global Development policy, the State/USAID Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and 2011-2015 USAID Policy Framework.  We work closely with missions and bureaus to integrate rigorous mission-led strategic planning efforts and sectoral strategies including those for Basic Education, Water, and Gender.

This inclusive approach led to a resource request that reflects Administration and USAID priorities, modernizes our development activities, and provides the most cost-effective and sustainable development.  The countless hours of work that went into developing the FY 2014 President’s budget by USAID staff around the world demonstrate their commitment to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively.

For those of us who have been working on the FY 2014 budget for some time now, the end of the Administrator’s congressional hearings may feel like the culmination of this process, it is really just the beginning. Moving forward, we will continue to work closely with Congress to enact a budget that supports our national security, promotes our economic interests, and alleviates human suffering.

Photo of the Week: Administrator Shah in North Colombia

Last week, Administrator Shah met with displaced families in Corozal, Sucre in Northern Colombia at a land titling event, and received a warm “thank you” from one of the community members. Photo is from USAID.

USAID in the News

This week, the President’s proposed Food Aid Reform in his FY2014 Budget Proposal garnered significant attention both from members of Congress at Administrator Shahs’ hearings on Capitol Hill and in the media.

This week Administrator Shah appeared before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. Delving into the testimony, Politico says “Rajiv Shah – the bright young star at the United States Agency for International Development” – promoted “a more modern and science-based way” to deliver food aid to those who need it most. Shah testified that “Behind all this is President Barack Obama’s plan to revamp international food aid to allow more flexible, cash purchases overseas – rather than commodity shipments from the US.”

In its “Democracy In America” blog, The Economist notes that “USAID’s head, Rajiv Shah, is optimistic that the reformers will win this argument, pointing to a fiscal environment in which every dollar must be made to count.” In the New York Times piece titled “When Food Isn’t the Answer to Hunger”, Tina Rosenberg recalls that “in many places, people go hungry because there is no food. But in a lot of places, food is available and the market is working – people are just too poor to buy it. In those places, giving individuals or charitable groups cash to buy food can make food aid cheaper, faster and fairer.” Roseenberg adds that “by strengthening and not undercutting local farmers, cash aid also helps countries to avoid hunger later.”

The Hill, Bloomberg BusinessWeek and PBS also picked up Administrator Shah’s testimony this week and USAID’s Food Aid Reform.

Watch the segment on PBS:

#AskUSAID @RajShah Twitter Chat on the Future of #FoodAid

 

On Monday, April 15, USAID Administrator @RajShah participated in a Twitter chat to answer YOUR questions on the proposed Food Aid Reform in President Obama’s 2014 Proposed Budget. People asked questions using #AskUSAID @RajShah on everything from the nutritional value of  #FoodAid to how to better engage with @USAID. From 2:30-3:30 p.m., we received over 20 questions and reached over 700,000 users on Twitter! @RajShah responds to your questions with lightning speed!

Learn more about Food Aid Reform through our fact sheet, Raj Shah’s Speech & Transcript, as well as recent articles from the Washington Post, AP, The Hill, Wall Street Journal, and Huffington Post.

USAID in the News

President Obama’s 2014 Budget Proposal and Proposed Food Aid Reform

This week President Obama released his 2014 Budget Proposal, which introduced major reform in the delivery of food assistance. The Washington Post reports the White House has proposed “the first major change in three decades to the way the United States supplies food aid to impoverished nations, significantly scaling back the program that buys commodities from US farmers and ships them to the needy overseas.” Under a budget proposal released Wednesday, “nearly half of $1.4 billion in requested funds for the aid could instead be spent to purchase local bulk food in countries in need or to distribute individual vouchers for local purchases.” USAID administrator Rajiv Shah said in an interview, “We’ve made a strong commitment to provide more flexibility,” noting that “local purchase of food allows for a response time nearly 14 weeks faster” than shipping from the US, and also is “30 percent cheaper for certain types of commodities.” Shah added, “We recognize that any transition has to be done in a careful, thoughtful manner,” but argued that over the long term “spending money to build and modernize agricultural systems in current food-recipient countries ‘is ultimately what creates tens of thousands more jobs here in our country.’”

Oxfam’s Paul O’Brien welcomed the proposals, telling the Wall Street Journal: “The Obama administration has taken an important step towards long overdue reforms to bring food aid into the 21st century…This president’s proposal will get food to more hungry people faster, cheaper and more efficiently. Congress should pass them expeditiously.”

Read more about the Proposal in these publications: The HillNPRWashington Post and Huffington Post

LGBT Global Development Partners spoke on advancing LGBT equality in developing and emerging market countries on April 8 in Washington. Photo credit: USAID

USAID Announces Initiative to Promote LGBT Rights Abroad

The four-year public-private partnership between USAID and Olivia Cruises, UCLA’s Williams Institute, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency “will work with local LGBT groups to provide leadership training, research and other help, lending the imprimatur of the U.S. government to people who in many countries are outcast and vulnerable, “ The San Francisco Chronicle reports. “This partnership leverages the financial resources and skills of each partner to further inclusive development and increase respect for the human rights of LGBT people around the world,” noted Claire Lucas, senior advisor of the USAID Office of Innovation and Development Alliances. “It can be a real game-changer in the advancement of LGBT human rights.”

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