Dr. Rajiv Shah led the efforts of nearly 10,000 staff in more than 70 countries around the world to advance USAID’s mission of ending extreme poverty and promoting resilient, democratic societies.
Under Dr. Shah’s leadership, USAID applied innovative technologies and engaged the private sector to solve the world’s most intractable development challenges. This new model of development brings together an increasingly diverse community—from large companies to local civil society groups to communities of faith—to deliver meaningful results.
Dr. Shah led President Obama’s landmark Feed the Future and Power Africa initiatives and has refocused America’s global health partnerships to end preventable child death. Feed the Future, alone, has improved nutrition for 12 million children and empowered more than 7 million farmers with climate-smart tools they need to grow their way out of extreme poverty. In April 2014, USAID launched the U.S. Global Development Lab to harness the expertise of the world’s brightest scientists, students, and entrepreneurs. At the same time, the newly formed Private Capital Group for Development forges a more strategic relationship between private capital and development.
Dr. Shah also managed the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to catastrophic crises around the world, from the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.
Through an extensive set of reforms called “USAID Forward,” Dr. Shah worked with the United States Congress to transform USAID into the world’s premier development Agency that prioritizes public-private partnerships, innovation, and meaningful results. He currently serves on the boards of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as participates on the National Security Council.
Previously, Dr. Shah served as Undersecretary and Chief Scientist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he created the National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, he spent eight years at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he led efforts in global health, agriculture, and financial services, including the creation of the International Finance Facility for Immunization.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, and the Wharton School of Business. He regularly appears in the media and has delivered keynote addresses before the U.S. Military Academy, the National Prayer Breakfast, and diverse audiences across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Dr. Shah was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He has served as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, been named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and has received multiple honorary degrees.
He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife Shivam Mallick Shah and three children and has given up mountain climbing for family bicycle rides.
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.
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. These textbooks, and associated teacher training and support for using the textbooks, were made possible by joining Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) with the Ministry of Education.
Last updated: March 26, 2015