As featured in the White House Blog
Last week, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah gave a major address to over 200 non-governmental organizations, think-tanks, academics, and international development leaders hosted by the Center for Global Development. The text of the speech as prepared for delivery can be found here. Dr. Shah’s speech on The Modern Development Enterprise addressed the current state of development and formally announced the Agency’s 50th anniversary.
In his speech, Dr. Shah recognized the important role of religious and community groups in providing assistance to those most in need around the world. I thought you’d be especially interested in the excerpts below:
- American Values: When we prevent violence in Southern Sudan, we’re not just avoiding future military involvement; we’re also expressing America’s values. When schoolchildren organize bakesales to pay for anti-malarial bed nets, they are expressing America’s values. When more American families gave money to the Haiti relief than watched the Super Bowl, they were expressing America’s values. When church groups across America raise money and volunteer to support children orphaned by AIDS, they are expressing America’s values.
- Communities of Faith: I’m proud to know that USAID is one of CRS’s largest supporters. But I’m also proud to know that we support a wide-range of faith-based organizations, from Samaritan’s Purse to the American Jewish World Service. Organizations of faith not only express the moral values of millions of Americans, they also provide some of the most dependable support systems for millions in the developing world. In Kenya for example, 30% of all healthcare services are provided by Christian Hospitals. Our success depends on listening to communities of faith, connecting with them deeply, and supporting the vital work they perform around the world.
- Food Security: Instead of merely providing food aid in times of emergency, we are helping countries develop their own agricultural sectors, so that they can feed themselves. We launched Feed the Future – bringing together resources across the federal government and engaging in deeper partnerships to extend the impact of our efforts. We are now leveraging more investment from countries themselves and from other donors. Firms ranging from General Mills to local African seed companies are all doing more. As a result, in just five of our twenty focus countries we will be able to help nearly 6.5 million poor farmers – most of them women – grow enough food to feed their families and break the grip of hunger and poverty for tens of millions of people.
- Global Health: In our Global Health Initiative, instead of a scattered approach that fights individual diseases one at a time, we are pursuing an integrated approach that will generate efficiencies and strengthen health systems. We are now working with partners such as the NIH, CDC and PEPFAR to leverage recent advances in science and technology, especially in high return areas such as vaccinating children, preventing HIV, malaria and TB and focusing on childhood nutrition during pregnancy and the first two years of life.
- Smart and Transparent Investments: I want the American taxpayer to know that every dollar they invest in USAID is being invested in the smartest, most efficient, and most transparent way possible.
- 50th Anniversary: This year, USAID will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Our legacy is filled with incredible accomplishments. Throughout those fifty years, we have contributed greatly toward ending an incomprehensible measure of human suffering, and I urge you to learn more about our Agency’s rich legacy through our newly launched anniversary Web site, http://50th.usaid.gov. But if I am lucky enough to live another 50 years, I hope I am also lucky enough not to witness our centennial. Instead, I hope we will be commemorating the success of USAID’s mission.
Ari Alexander serves as Deputy Director at the Center for Faith-based & Community Initiatives and the Coordinator of Global Engagement.