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Harnessing Science, Technology, and Innovation To Promote Global Development

Originally posted on the White House blog

Today at the White House, senior Administration officials announced a series of new initiatives to promote game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges.  Answering President Obama’s call to harness science technology, and innovation to spark global development, the Administration announced initiatives from across the government to generate new development solutions.  Announcements include new partnerships with universities; greater use of scientific breakthroughs through expedited technology transfer of federally-funded inventions; a program to reward inventors who use their patented technologies to address humanitarian needs; and initiatives to leverage advances in Internet and communications technologies to provide new development tools.

In an increasingly globalized world, the Obama Administration recognizes that global development is vital to national security and is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative.  One of the cornerstones of our global development policy is a commitment to investments in game-changing innovations with the potential to solve long-standing development challenges in health, food security, environmental sustainability, and broad-based economic growth.  Innovation can play a key role in building a stable, inclusive global economy with new sources of prosperity, advancing democracy and human rights, and helping us to increase the ranks of prosperous, capable, and democratic states that can be our partners in the decades to come.

Administrator Raj Shah announced that USAID is launching a new partnership with universities and research institutes to define and solve large development challenges.  USAID also announced new commitments to increased utilization of electronic and mobile payments to save on costs and increase financial access; a new effort to make assistance to other governments in telecommunications development more efficient; a new “app store” for development to spur humanitarian apps and software; and new commitments to mobile education technology as part of USAID’s All Children Reading grand challenge for development.

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Open for Questions: Innovation for Global Development

Originally posted on the White House blog

On Wednesday, February 8 at 9am, the White House will host an event to highlight how the government and the private sector are harnessing science, technology, and innovation to promote global development. Speakers from the White House, U.S. Agency for International Development, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and the private sector will join participants from universities, industry, and nonprofits for a discussion of innovation and global development. Watch live at

Later in the day, at 11:00 a.m., Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of the National Security Council and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council will take your questions on the role of science, technology and innovation in global development.

  • What: Open for Questions: Innovation for Global Development
  • Who:Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director of the National Security Council and Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy & Senior Advisor for Science, Technology, and Innovation, National Economic Council
  • When: Wednesday, February 8 at 11:00 a.m. ET
  • Where: Watch live at and submit your questions via Facebook, Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat or our webform.

Erin Lindsay is Deputy Director of Online Engagement for the Office of Digital Strategy at the White House.

USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (1/30/2012 – 2/3/2012)

January 25: ClimateWire (registration required) published a story highlighting USAID’s efforts to assist Fiji design climate change plans. John Wilson, director of the office of technical services for USAID’s Middle East bureaus, said the team is working on ways to address water and food security as well as other needs brought about by rising global temperatures.

January 27: In another article, ClimateWire (registration required) also reports that USAID recently released its 5-year, Climate Change and Development Strategy (pdf). The plan calls on the Agency to reduce emissions while at the same time protecting communities from weather disasters. “Consideration of climate change in strategic planning, program design, and project implementation across a wide range of development sectors is essential to the success of USAID’s mission,” wrote USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.


USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (1/16/2012 – 1/20/2012)

January 17: The GlobalPost highlighted India’s progress in its fight to end polio and noted that the country recently marked one year since its last confirmed case of polio. The news outlet interviewed Ellyn Ogden, USAID’s worldwide polio eradication coordinator. In the published interview, Ogden discusses India’s achievement and the global outlook to end polio.

January 18: On Wednesday, at the University of Delaware-Wilmington, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah joined Senator Chris Coons at an “Opportunity: Africa” Conference. Local media outlets, including The News Journal, the Newark Post, and WDEL-AM covered the event. At the conference, Administrator Shah and Senator Coons highlighted how American businesses, including Delaware-based companies, are developing innovative ways to grow Africa’s economy and open trade markets for U.S. goods.

USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (1/9/2012 – 1/13/2012)

January 11: Foreign Policy published a Letter to the Editor written by Ambassador Ertharin Cousin and USAID Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg. The letter provided clarification describing U.S. food aid and highlighted the fact that aid is distributed after careful analysis and in a competitive manner. Furthermore, the letter states that USAID now has a program that uses cash, vouchers, and local and regional food purchases to ensure “we reach people more quickly with the right type of response based on local conditions.”

January 11: In The Miami Herald, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah published an op-ed citing the accomplishments in Haiti, two years after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake. “Over half of the 10 million tons of rubble has been cleared from Port-au-Prince’s streets, more people have access to clean water today than before the earthquake, and collective efforts have mitigated the outbreak of cholera that killed thousands in the country.” In addition to rescue efforts, the U.S. is also working to rebuild the country. “With the leadership of Secretary Clinton, we are trying to harness the transformative power of science, technology and innovation to accelerate economic progress and improve lives throughout Haiti.”

January 11: OhMyGov! published a story on the Famine, War, Drought (FWD) Campaign being led by USAID. The article highlighted the important role social media has played in the campaign, as well as the dramatic increase USAID has experienced in Facebook followers. According to OhMyGov’s media analysis platform, during the week of December 22-29, USAID’s Facebook page experienced a 27% growth in total Facebook fans, amassing nearly 12,000 new fans in just seven days.

January 12: On NPR’s Talk of the Nation and Tell Me More programs, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg were interviewed to discuss the two-year anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake. In both interviews, Administrator Shah and Steinberg stated that the U.S. remains committed to supporting and investing in Haiti.

January 12: Mark Feierstein, Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, published an op-ed in The Huffington Post discussing the progress being made in Haiti. In addition to playing a critical role in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, “the United States is helping Haiti create jobs, boost agricultural production, more effectively deliver services, expand access to health care and provide higher quality education to its youth.”

USAID in the News

January 3: Billboard Magazine highlighted USAID’s work to launch a public awareness campaign for the famine in the Horn of Africa. Specifically, the magazine praised USAID’s partnership with MTV to not only “forward the facts,” but auction off items to benefit families in East Africa.

January 2: Over the weekend, Forbes India published a transcript of an interview with USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. The interview discusses Feed theFuture and the budget, and took place during Administrator Shah’s trip to India earlier in the month.

December 24: Voice of America reports that the U.S. continues to support the Republic of South Sudan. New efforts are under way to help establish a viable government and lay the groundwork for economic growth. USAID/South Sudan Mission Director Kevin Mullally was quoted, stating that “As the country takes the leadership in its development, we are committed to supporting them in trying to achieve their vision.”

December 22: NPR interviewed Alex Thier, Director of USAID’s Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan, to discuss a promising new survey showing that medical care in Afghanistan has improved dramatically over the past decade.

December 20: USAID’s Chief Innovation Officer, Maura O’Neill, published a post in The Huffington Post’s Impact Blog. In the piece, O’Neill discusses India’s innovative approach to development. She also highlights USAID’s new partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), one of the largest microfinance organizations in India. The partnership aims to identify and develop cost-effective aid programs that will benefit India as well as the rest of the world.

USAID-Devex Essay Contest: Last Chance to Add Your Voice

Through a joint USAID and Devex essay contest, you have the exciting opportunity to have your say on the most pressing issues in international development – and to be published along with the most prominent international development leaders of our time. The deadline for submission is this Sunday, January 8.

USAID is seeking five of the most interesting, innovative and insightful opinions and ideas for inclusion in an essay collection, along with essays by leading global development thinkers, to be released in May 2012. The best of the remaining submissions will be posted on USAID’s website.

The essays can focus any issue directly relevant to one of these topic areas:

  • Democracy and development in the 21st century
  • Pressure on the planet: climate change, resource demand and demography
  • Strengthening security to accelerate development, accelerating development to strengthen security
  • Competing in global markets in 2025: trade, jobs, growth, and the role of the state
  • Making markets and technology work for service delivery

For more information about contest topics and guidelines for submission, please see the contest announcement.

Winning essays will address an issue or idea directly relevant to one of the major topic areas listed above, and will present an original, innovative insight to help shape how some aspect of development practice is undertaken in the foreseeable future. They should focus on where the world is going and how developing countries and their partners can best prepare for future changes. We are particularly interested in essays that engage in broader debates on future-oriented key challenges to development, rather than essays that focus on analysis of U.S. foreign policy or foreign assistance.

USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (12/12/2011 – 12/16/2011)

December 9: Last Friday, the Global Post highlighted USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah’s visit to Harvard University. On December 12thThe Guardian’s Global Health Blog also published a post about his trip to Cambridge. Speaking at a dinner, hosted by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Dr. Shah recalled his visit to refugee camps in Kenya and the struggle families are currently facing in the Horn of Africa. Shah also encouraged journalists to actively cover the crisis and famine.

December 14: The Guardian reports that during the International Engagement conference for South Sudan, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah stated that theconference is an opportunity for the government of South Sudan to lay out its vision for the future of its economy. Shah also stated that the event will “help private companies and investors see the Republic of Southern Sudan as a place where they want to increase their investments, thereby enabling significant economic development and economic growth”. Bloomberg News also reported on the conference, citing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s strong support for the new nation and the promising economic opportunities in farming and oil sectors. ReutersThe Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Times also covered the conference.

December 15: ABC News’ “Million Moms Challenge” blog highlighted an innovative approach USAID is using to help pregnant women and new mothers in Bangladesh. By utilizing a new cell phone program, women are receiving text or calls with potentially life-saving alerts regarding their upcoming due date. After they give birth, themothers continue to receive messages with information regarding healthy nutrition and how to care for their newborn. The USAID initiative is called Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA).

USAID in the News

Weekly Briefing (11/28/2011 – 12/2/2011)

November 29th: The Taipei Times and The China Post reports that USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah will visit Taipei, Taiwan on December 1st and 2nd.  Shah is visiting Taiwan at the invitation of the American Institute in Taiwan, as part of his trip through Asia to celebrate the USAID-Taiwan relationship, as well as the country’s transformation into a democratic society.

November 30th: An op-ed written by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah was published on CNN’s Global Public Square blog. In the piece, Shah discusses the current aid effectiveness forum taking place in Busan; and South Korea’s transformation from aid recipient to aid donor. He also describes the importance of delivering transparent foreign aid and how the U.S. is making important strides in ensuring development assistance is made in an efficient and effective manner.

December 1st: AFP noted that during his stop in Taipai, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah became the highest-ranking US official to visit Taiwan since 2006. During his trip, Administrator Shah met with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and opened the “American Footsteps in Taiwan”, an exhibition that highlights the friendship between the United States and Taiwan.

December 1st: In recognition of World AIDS Day, USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah published a blog in The Huffington Post citing the importance of developing innovative approaches to treat and prevent HIV/AIDS.

USAID to work with New Department of State Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations

We are in the midst of a new era of political and social transitions around the globe. These transitions, as with many of the problems of the developing world, often involve conflict and crisis. The Department of State has launched the new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. This new bureau will be an important partner for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in increasing our global capabilities essential to crisis prevention, response, recovery, and transition efforts.

The new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations is part of Secretary Clinton’s broader strategy laid out in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to build smarter, more effective U.S. engagement with the world. The Bureau will subsume the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.

A key responsibility of the new State Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations is the continued management of the Civilian Response Corps, civilian staff from various U.S. government agencies trained to enhance U.S. government engagements in fragile states and post-conflict environments while laying the path for longer-term development and peace. Last year alone, USAID Civilian Response Corps personnel provided more than 9,300 person days to augment Embassy and USAID Mission efforts managing crises in 25 countries such as Haiti, South Sudan, Yemen, Tunisia and others.

Within USAID, the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance brings together wide-ranging technical expertise, flexible funding, and global operational capabilities with $2-3 billion per year in programs to support disaster and crisis prevention, response, recovery, and transition efforts.

We look forward to partnering with the State Department’s new Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations to drive integrated development and diplomatic efforts to prevent, respond to, and stabilize crises in priority states and regions, helping local actors set the conditions for sustainable solutions and long-term peace.

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