For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, DC - Fresh from his first trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan as Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah noted that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is partnering with civil society and government officials in the region to build a better future for its people.
"USAID is working in partnership with the Afghan government to support its efforts to build a stable, secure and prosperous country," Shah said. "President Barack Obama's strategy in Afghanistan is to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and to prevent its return - ever. And in Pakistan, consistent with President Obama's strategy, we are committed to a longer-term development relationship - one that will emerge in greater depth and detail with additional momentum from the Strategic Dialogue."
In both countries Shah gained a full, up-close and personal appreciation of the complexities and opportunities in a region that is critical to all aspects of U.S. foreign policy.
"I want to take special note of the dedicated, tireless staff in these two countries, both American and our foreign national partners," Shah emphasized. "They've struggled to overcome steep odds, involving everything from the big issues of personal security to technical challenges with communications to finding sufficient living space."
During his trip, Shah met with President Hamid Karzai and signed a partnership agreement with the Afghan government to work on development and governance in key districts through the new District Delivery Program. This Afghan-led, national enterprise will help provide much-needed healthcare, agricultural support and technical know-how at the district level.
Speaking with local farmers, Shah came to see how Afghanistan's agriculture pricing system makes it difficult for them to stay afloat. He observed first-hand how the USAID-funded Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture (AVIPA) Plus program lets farmers buy fertilizer and seeds at reduced prices from local shops, making them better-equipped to produce export-quality crops.
Shah also spent time with educators participating in a USAID program that addresses Afghanistan's critical shortage of qualified instructors. Last year alone, USAID helped train an estimated 54,000 Afghan teachers.
In Pakistan, Shah met with key government officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari, to discuss the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. Shah believes in the need to enter into a full partnership on a five-to-ten-year roadmap for development that is done strategically, not haphazardly.
Shah noted, "We need to seize this moment to consider not only what needs to be done in the short term to bring relief to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also to ensure the success of long-term development that will make both countries stronger partners with the United States to bring about a more secure world."
Last updated: May 17, 2012