Fifty years ago, smallpox was claiming more than 2 million lives globally every year, and persistent drought and weak agricultural systems had forced millions to the brink of starvation in Southeast Asia.
To overcome these insurmountable challenges, the global community accelerated investments in new technologies and forged innovative public-private partnerships to generate groundbreaking new solutions.
This approach enabled some of the most significant achievements in modern development, among them:
- A new vaccine delivery tool that made global smallpox eradication possible;
- Oral rehydration solutions that prevented diarrheal diseases from killing millions of children;
- A polio vaccine that has helped nearly eradicate that debilitating disease; and
- New strains of wheat and rice that ushered in the Green Revolution, preventing widespread starvation and poverty.
Today, through investments in science, technology and innovation, USAID is harnessing the same forces that yielded the great breakthroughs of the past to transform more lives than ever before.
- We’re building mobile money programs in nations like Afghanistan and Haiti, where banks are rare, but cell phones are everywhere. Together with the Gates Foundation, we’ve now helped nearly 800,000 Haitians save money and make safe financial transactions on their mobile phones.
- We’re scaling up access to agricultural technologies and prioritizing research into new seeds that can withstand droughts, thrive in floods and resist climate change. As a results, vitamin A-rich sweet potatoes are helping children today in vulnerable regions like the Horn of Africa resist disease and improve their nutrition.
- We’re spurring innovation in global health through global competitions like Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development. This past year, the Grand Challenge garnered more than 600 cutting-edge ideas to help mothers give birth safely in poor and rural settings.
- And through our Development Innovations Fund, we’re supporting entrepreneurs around the world who have a great idea and need the resources to test it out or scale it up.
Last updated: February 22, 2013