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Archives for Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah

World AIDS Day: New Advances Are Critical to Achieving the Vision of an AIDS-free Generation

An activist sets up a red ribbon during the commemoration of the World AIDS Day in San Salvador, on December 1, 2010. AFP PHOTO/ Jose CABEZAS

Featured on Huffington Post

For the first time since the AIDS virus surfaced, devastating communities and overwhelming nations, the world has the tools and knowledge to ensure an entire generation is born free from its scourge. By building on a strong legacy of progress and bipartisan support and relying on proven interventions and new breakthroughs, the United States is leading the world in making real the vision of an AIDS-free generation.

Our efforts at home and abroad have informed each other. HIV prevention and treatment approaches pioneered in Nairobi and Cape Town now benefit communities in the U.S. Thanks to President Obama’s strong support of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief—better known as PEPFAR—millions of patients worldwide are able to receive affordable treatment that used to be out of reach.

At the same time, American researchers and pharmaceutical companies have made game-changing discoveries that are helping save millions of lives around the world.

Despite these successes, every day more people become infected than start treatment. Every day, more people—many of them women and children—join the ranks of the already 34 million living with HIV today. In order to end this devastating reality, we have to work faster, more effectively and more efficiently than ever before.

As Secretary Clinton recently said, our efforts must begin with the American people—and our drive for innovation, unfailing sense of generosity and track record of breakthrough research.

To realize the future of an AIDS-free generation, we have to strategically focus our efforts on proven, cost-effective ways to fight against HIV/AIDS: stopping mother-to-child transmission, expanding voluntary medical male circumcision, supporting community adherence and investing in new biomedical tools.

But we also have to focus on propelling new advances.

Just a few months ago we saw new results that demonstrated the effectiveness of HIV medication taken orally, once a day, at not just treating HIV but preventing its transmission.

Discoveries like this may one day change the way we fight AIDS, both in America and in developing countries.

As the head of a federal agency dedicated to improving human welfare, I have seen firsthand the deeply moral, social and economic costs of HIV/AIDS: children who have been born HIV-positive and find the odds in life already stacked against them; businesses close in regions where HIV is rampant while hospitals fill up; and the despair fueled by a single disease.

This reality has always been unacceptable. For the first time, we can confidently say it is also avoidable. With the continued support of a remarkable bipartisan constituency of congressional leaders, faith-based institutions, multilateral alliances and private sector partners, we can build on the momentum of proven results and scientific discoveries.

Today, as we once again mark World AIDS Day, we should do so knowing the world finally has the ability to create a future without AIDS.

Shah: In defense of smart foreign assistance

As featured on CNN’s Global Public Square

This week more than 2,000 government, civil society and private sector leaders have gathered in Busan, South Korea with one goal: to improve the quality and effectiveness of development aid.

The setting is especially significant; 50 years ago, South Korea was largely a country of peasant farmers. It was poorer than two-thirds of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa and its people barely lived past the age of 54.

Today, South Korea is a high-tech hub, a net donor and its people have some of the longest life expectancies in the world. South Korea also happens to be the seventh largest market for American goods; we sell more to the South Koreans than we do to the French. The free trade agreement President Obama recently signed with South Korea means we’ll be selling even more to Seoul in the future, leading to high-paying American jobs.

South Korea’s economic miracle – from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the wealthiest – serves as a powerful example of how effective foreign assistance can be, if delivered well and used wisely to catalyze growth. With a focus on transparency, mutual accountability, strong private sector engagement and meaningful results, development assistance can help developing countries thrive.

President Obama, Secretary Clinton and I have worked hard to reform the way America delivers assistance abroad. As part of our nation’s first ever Presidential policy on development, we’ve made our assistance more transparent, accountable and effective.

We created foreignassistance.gov – an online dashboard that anyone can use to track American foreign assistance investments. We launched a major effort to deliver our aid directly to the people we intend to help, rather than routing it through middlemen and contractors. And we launched the Open Government Partnership, a new multilateral initiative through which governments – including the U.S. – make concrete commitments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and use new technologies to strengthen governance.

But America will do even more to ensure our development assistance is delivered transparently and accountably. Yesterday in Busan, Secretary Clinton announced a major step forward for development transparency: the United States – the world’s largest donor of foreign assistance – will join the International Aid Transparency Initiative.  This international standard of data reporting demands that we provide our taxpayers and our partners data about our investments in a clear, accurate and timely manner.

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Share Hope by Helping Us Reach 13 Million Forwards

Right now, 13.3 million people are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa, more than the populations of New York and Los Angeles combined.  To help raise awareness, we have dedicated today – Wednesday, November 9th – FWD>Day.  Today, we want to help 13.3 million people forward facts about the crisis to their friends and families.

We know that Americans are among the most generous people in the world.  When we learn about suffering on such a catastrophic scale, we want to act. But unlike during other disasters in Haiti or the 2004 Tsunami, over half of Americans have no idea that millions of people are at risk today in the Horn . That is why we partnered with the Ad Council to launch the FWD campaign to engage Americans in relief efforts and educate them about long-terms solutions to hunger and malnutrition through Feed the Future.

You can donate $10 to a group of 8 NGOs working in the Horn by texting GIVE to 777444, or you can visit our website to find a list of other organizations on the ground.

But today on FWD>Day, we are asking you to do more than donate.  We want you to FWD the Facts. Visit USAID.gov/FWD and take as little as 10 seconds to post infographics or one of our celebrity public service announcements to your Facebook wall.

Don’t just rely on celebrities to get the word out: make your own public service announcement (PSA).  Today, in partnership with YouTube, we’re launching an outreach effort to help Americans make their own videos.  Create your own PSA, tell us why you’re FWDing the facts and then post it on our YouTube page.

I’m also pleased to announce a partnership with GOOD, the online social good publication.  Today, USAID and GOOD are launching a new challenge to hear from communities around the country how they’re going to raise awareness about the crisis. GOOD will award $5,000 to the plan with most online votes.

By forwarding the facts together today- November 9th, we can make a difference.

Shared Values, Shared History: Administrator Shah Visits West Point

Today, Dr. Shah travels to West Point for the first time a sitting USAID Administrator has visited the Academy.  His visit comes just over a year since President Obama elevated development on par with defense and diplomacy and one week before Veterans Day, offering an opportunity to highlight the importance of development to national security but also the importance of civilian-military cooperation.

There was perhaps no greater champion for these principles than George Marshall.  Although he was one of the great generals who did not come from West Point’s hallowed grounds, it was his plan that sought “the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.”  He offered a blueprint against hunger, poverty, and despair.

Just over a decade later, President Kennedy institutionalized this capability within the U.S. government by establishing USAID.

The military shares a particular bond with President Kennedy as it was at his initiative that USAID evolved but also that the U.S. Army Special Forces were institutionalized—another niche capability of skilled public servants trained to work alongside other cultures. These groups have championed our values and perpetuate the mindset of “nothing about them without them.”

USAID is able to work not just alongside the military but also in places where conflict is ongoing without US military presence, preventing further discord in a way that is integral to national security.  Development is critical for enduring stability and the realization of peaceful human potential, and as former Secretary of Defense Gates stated, “Economic development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”  USAID is and will continue to be in many places so the military does not have to be.

There is perhaps less of a divide between service members and development practitioners than many care to admit.  All are dedicated individuals who serve the public good and share a strong sense of mission, service, sacrifice and expeditionary nature.  It is these shared values that make for better cooperation. Moving forward in pursuit of our national security objectives will require building upon our shared history but also a continued embrace for the portfolio of development.

Open for Questions: Crisis in the Horn of Africa

This post originally appeared on the White House Blog.

Over the past several months, the worst humanitarian crisis in the world has placed more than 13.3 million people across the Horn of Africa at risk – a greater number than the populations of New York and Los Angeles combined.  Quickly becoming incomprehensible, the emergency has its roots in a devastating combination of famine, war and drought.

Last month, I announced the FWD campaign to raise awareness across America about this worsening situation.

Please join us this Wednesday, October 26th, at 12:30 p.m. EDT to learn about the steps we have taken to build this campaign by informing and engaging our friends and family in order to harness the compassion and generosity of the American people.

In a special “Open for Questions” event, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council, and I will take your questions during a live streamed event moderated by Jon Carson, Director of the Office of Public Engagement. Whether you are wondering about the famine, the global response to the crisis, or what you can do to help, we will be there to answer your questions.

We will also be releasing special public service announcements on the crisis from some familiar faces. You can submit your questions now through Facebook and Twitter, and during the live event:

Right now, submit your questions:

Wednesday, October 26th at 12:30 p.m. EDT, we hope you’ll watch and participate:

We know that these types of crises are preventable. Through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government is working with partner governments, smallholder farmers, and the private sector to help nations invest in agricultural development to avoid repeating this situation.

The engagement and generosity of the American people have always been a critical part of efforts to combat these kinds of tragedies. However, this crisis – slow in coming – has taken place under the radar of many Americans.  Despite the magnitude of the crisis in the Horn of Africa, over half of the general public say that they have not seen, heard, or read anything about the drought and famine occurring in the Horn of Africa.

It is up to us to change that.

MDG countdown: Celebrating Successes and Innovation

Today, Secretary of State Mitchell of UK development agency DFID and I will co-host an event along the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to celebrate successes and innovations in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Indeed, the world has much to celebrate. Through partnerships between communities and governments and the integration of new, non-traditional players we are witnessing significant progress:

  • In Brazil, 12.2 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Brazil’s Bolsa Familia program has used cash transfers to empower mothers, resulting in a reduction in malnutrition and an increase in school enrollment and medical care.
  • Zambia has educated 20,000 teachers, providing roughly one million children with access to school. Community schools are also flourishing, creating an opportunity for local groups to initiate and manage schools for their children.
  • In Nepal, the risk of death during childbirth has been halved. Childbirth is no longer the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age.
  • Ethiopia has provided nine million households (63 percent) with healthcare, pioneering rural access through the Health Extension Program. This program has contributed to reducing the incidence of malaria by half and doubling family planning coverage.
  • The GAVI Alliance has helped immunize 288 million children, saving five million lives. This public-private partnership has set an additional target of immunizing another quarter of a billion children in the next five years, saving another 4 million children’s lives.

These are a few of the examples we will hear more about today, powerful stories of lives saved and lives improved—stories that development investments are paying off and delivering results.

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FWD the Facts about Famine, War, and Drought in the Horn of Africa

As many of you know, the worst drought in 60 years has devastated communities throughout the Horn of Africa, leaving more than 13 million people in a state of crisis—greater than the population of Los Angeles and New York combined.

In Somalia—where twenty years of war and violence has limited humanitarian access and destroyed the country’s ability to respond—the drought has led to an outbreak of famine. According to UNICEF, as a result of this crisis, a child is dying in Somalia every six minutes.

The millions suffering from the effects of this crisis are facing incomprehensible suffering. Left with nothing, many are walking more than 100 miles toward refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Because the crisis in the Horn is so complex and because the scale is so difficult to comprehend, we have not seen people come together to respond in the same way they did after the earthquake in Haiti. Many who do hear about the crisis are left with the impression that we can’t successfully do anything about it.

But I know for a fact that we can fight this famine.  We were fighting it before it started. Through safety net programs, we have helped 7.5 million Ethiopians withstand the worst effects of this drought without the need for humanitarian assistance.

And as a result of Feed the Future investments, we have seen more than a 300 percent increase in grain yields in Western Kenya in just one year, securing the nation’s agricultural backbone and helping lower the price of critical staples throughout the region.

But despite being the single largest donor of assistance in the region, we recognize we cannot fight the famine alone.

That’s why today, I’m announcing the launch of the FWD Campaign—in partnership with the Ad Council—to highlight the uniquely devastating nature of this crisis and to ask people to help spread awareness.

FWD—stands for Famine, War, Drought: the three major crises that have led to this perfect storm of devastation in the Horn of Africa. But it also stands for our call to action—that people get informed, get engaged and forward this information on to their friends and families.

The FWD campaign is our attempt to make our world smaller—to connect people with the clear knowledge and understanding of exactly what is happening in the Horn—and giving them a powerful way to respond.

The campaign has three components. One is an effort that’s centered on using a strong online presence and social media to raise awareness.  If you go to FWD, you’ll see a number of new ways we’re using to inform and engage with people. We’re providing infographics, interactive maps and tool kits that people can use to learn about the crisis in simple, clear ways—and more importantly share that information others.  And we’re partnering with Google, Facebook and Twitter to make sharing this information as easy as searching, updating your status or sending out a tweet.

There’s also a series of Public Service Announcements we’re filming with some key celebrities that will air in major media markets throughout the country. These PSA’s will go up on our Web site, as well as You Tube.

Finally, we’re also launching a text campaign with NGOs that are delivering critical assistance in the Horn.  If you text “GIVE” to 777444, you can donate $10 to famine relief.   To help get the campaign started, General Mills has agreed to match the first 2,000 text donations that come through the FWD campaign, up to $20,000.

But beyond donations, the most powerful contribution people will make will be to share what they learn. I ask that you encourage your friends and families to do more than donate. Have them visit FWD and follow @USAID on Twitter so they can forward the facts.

Photo Gallery of USAID Administrator’s Trip to Haiti

USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah traveled to Haiti on Sept. 15, 2011, to discuss USAID’s long-term strategy for helping the nation recover from its devastating January 2010 earthquake.  Check out the photo gallery.

This Week at USAID – September 12, 2011

Administrator Raj Shah participates in a panel discussion about “Leveraging Malaria Platforms to Improve Family Health” during the The Summit to Save Lives, which is presented by the George W. Bush Institute.

Later in the week, Administrator Shah heads to Haiti to meet with USAID Mission staff and to visit an agricultural training center.

The World at 7 Billion People: Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg speaks at the National Geographic Society Headquarters to raise awareness around global population issues related to women and girls.

Assistant to the Administrator Susan Reichle talks about USAID’s progress towards implementing President Obama’s Policy Directive on Global Development at a town hall hosted by the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (8/8/2011 – 8/12/2011)

August 9: The Associated Press reported that on Monday, Dr. Jill Biden and USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah visited Somalis at a refugee camp in Kenya. During the visit, Administrator Shah stated the world has a unique opportunity to save tens of thousands of children’s lives by expanding humanitarian activities inside Somalia. The AP also highlighted the White House announcement of $105 million in humanitarian aid that will provide food, shelter, water, and sanitation and health services to those in need.

August 10: A feature story published in The Sheboygan Press highlighted the work of a local USAID Foreign Service Officer. Michael Eddy, a Sheboygan, Wisconsin native, recently completed working in South Sudan, helping the new country achieve independence. The story also includes a special online photo gallery.

August 10: NPR and Reuters reported that aid groups are warning Congress not to cut the foreign aid budget as the response to the drought in the Horn of Africa continues. “If we do see the kinds of cuts in food assistance that are identified in the emerging legislation in Congress, it will have a significant impact,” said Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator of USAID

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