Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 9,600 professionals in 80 missions around the world.
Since being sworn in on Dec. 31, 2009, Shah managed the U.S. Government's response to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; co-chaired the State Department's first review of American diplomacy and development operations; and now spearheads President Barack Obama's landmark Feed the Future food security initiative. He is also leading “USAID Forward,” an extensive set of reforms to USAID's business model focusing on seven key areas, including procurement, science & technology, and monitoring & evaluation.
Before becoming USAID's Administrator, Shah served as undersecretary for research, education and economics, and as chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At USDA, he launched the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which significantly elevated the status and funding of agricultural research.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Shah served for seven years with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, including as director of agricultural development in the Global Development Program, and as director of strategic opportunities.
Originally from Detroit, Shah earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School and his master's in health economics from the Wharton School of Business. He attended the London School of Economics and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
Shah is married to Shivam Mallick Shah and is the father of three children. He lives in Washington, D.C.
It’s wonderful to come together as the year is winding down and the excitement of the holidays and the New Year is beginning. In preparing for today, I was reflecting on all the reasons we’ve come together over the past few years for townhalls and big events. They’ve been opportunities to celebrate our work, discuss our concerns, and share some innovative ideas for the future.
It is with deep humility and respect that we gather here today to honor one of our own, Ragaei Abdelfattah. To Ragaei’s family—his wife Angela, his two sons Omar and Ali, their mother Heba, and members of his family at home in Cairo—our prayers are with you. We are grateful for the sacrifices you made to support Ragaei in his life’s work. We know it was not easy.
We are honored to be joined by our colleagues from the White House, the Department of Defense, and the State Department, including Under Secretary Patrick Kennedy and Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. In his devotion to his family and his work, Ragaei represented the very best among us.
It is a solemn occasion as we gather today to honor and remember our friend and colleague, Ragaei Abdelfattah, a beloved member of our USAID family. From what I’ve learned about Ragaei, he would want us here today not only to mourn, but to celebrate. To celebrate his commitment to a better world. To celebrate his devotion to family. To celebrate his enthusiasm for appreciating challenges, then besting them… To celebrate a life well-lived.
Today, we have technologies that can help farmers grow more productive crops and improve water management. The evidence base is growing around a select number of technologies that—if taken to scale—can impact tens of millions of lives. But those technologies are not reaching nearly enough farmers. For example, the main hybrid maize used in Kenya today dates from 1986. And in Ghana, the main open-pollinated maize variety dates from the 1980s. Very promising varieties of stress-tolerant NERICA rice are hardly available in West Africa, where it could benefit millions, and fertilizer use in Africa remains the lowest in the world.
In order to tackle these challenges and help ensure key technologies reach their fullest potential, we have to focus our efforts. We know that technology alone can’t solve all of our problems. We need to be targeted in order to achieve results. The Green Revolution, while remembered for its silver bullets, was infinitely more complex. And with a growing population and challenges like climate change, today’s world is arguably even more so.
As we look to the future of the DAC, we will all have to adapt to a changing international environment. As important as it is, official development assistance (ODA) is no longer the prime source of capital investment for developing countries, and no longer has the principal role in filling savings gaps. For the United States, for example, our ODA this year will total about $30 billion, the world’s largest level by far. And yet private Americans give some $40 billion each year to international relief and development efforts through civil society institutions, faith-based groups, academic institutions and corporate social responsibility. Another $100 billion is sent by American citizens and residents to developing countries in remittances. Equally important, some $1 trillion in investment capital flows from the U.S. to developing countries from all sources each year. Private capital flows have increased seven fold over the past decade.
As a result, we need to consider the new roles that providers of development assistance must fill in the development continuum. We need to use our resources to make strategic investments, targeting the constraints to growth in our partner countries. We need to use our convening authority to bring all parties – including governments, civil society, business, and international financial institutions – to the table. We need to reduce the risk for others, such as private investors and host governments, through innovative insurance schemes and capital investment funds. We need to take calculated risks ourselves where others may fear to tread, always aware that we must be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.
For many young women in Ethiopia, opportunity is the missing link between poverty and prosperity. To address this gap, the University Preparation Camp for Ethiopian Young Women is committed to creating opportunities for young women and helping them achieve their ambitions of a university education and becoming leaders in their community. That is why the U.S. Government, through the U.S.
We need to help raise voices of all citizens—and empower their governments to respond. That’s the spirit behind today’s launch—to build on President Obama’s call for open government and inspire a global movement to end corruption and strengthen accountability. This Grand Challenge calls on the world’s brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and engineers to design breakthrough technologies and approaches to make all voices count. In fact, we’ve already seen some cutting-edge examples at work around the world.
We know we cannot prevent droughts or floods, but we can work much harder and more strategically to ensure these shocks don’t devastate families or set back hard-won development gains. That is the goal behind today’s launch of our Agency’s first-ever Policy and Program Guidance on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis. With this policy, we take a step forward in essentially delivering results for the most vulnerable communities around the world.
HANOI -- It is an honor for me to join people who are so dedicated to making Vietnam a more inclusive society for people with disabilities. The theme of this year’s International Day could not be more important. “Removing barriers” and being more inclusive – those are goals that resonate in every country, including my own. But they mean nothing without leadership in government and in society.
I am very happy to be here today to mark the handover of more than 5.5 million English language textbooks for students in primary grades 2, 3 and 4. Since 2009, USAID had been working very closely with the Ministry of Education to provide appropriate, quality textbooks and learning materials to students and teachers.
Last updated: January 28, 2014