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.
The fact remains that almost seven million children, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will die before they reach their fifth birthday. They won't attend kindergarten and they won't get backpacks or any other presents. Let's not be naïve. We know that preventable child death has always been a fact of life in human history. What is unique and what gives me pause both as the USAID Administrator and as a father is that for the first time in history we really do have the tools and know-how necessary to change this brutal fact of life. Many of them can in fact fit in the backpack. To demonstrate that to you I will show you some of my favorite ones.
Last year, for the first time in history, the majority of all people lived in cities. In China, the world's largest human migration in history continues to lead millions from the country's rural interior to its coast. In India, the migration pattern is North to South, from poorer states to megacities like Mumbai.
Today there are 60 cities in China with populations greater than one million; India has 45 while the U.S. and Europe have 25 combined. But it's not just Asia; Africa and Latin America both have at least 50 cities. And within those growing cities are slums-massive labyrinths of makeshift housing designed to accommodate the swelling ranks of the urban poor. Nearly everyone has seen images of slums like these either up close or in movies like Slumdog Millionaire. And they all look just like this: blue tarps, tin roofs, rubble and litter at every turn.
My first experience with dire poverty was in this exact slum-Dharavi, in Mumbai, India-where my uncle first took me on my first trip to India at age five. Because this is the image of poverty most of us are familiar with, most of us assume that this is how the poorest people in the world live.
But the most accurate depiction of poverty isn't this image.
This past year, despite enduring the long hangover of the global financial crisis, the fifty largest donors gave $10.4 billion dollars. Today, we at USAID are working to capture the tremendous potential of this community-partnering in new ways to leverage your experiences, expertise and resources. And focus on pivotal opportunities in development will enable us to get ahead of global trends that are placing unprecedented pressures on planet.
Thank you, Ambassador Munter.
It is an honor to be here in Pakistan and see the progress of our work together. I am also pleased to have the opportunity to officially open this remarkable exhibition, showcasing the long-standing relationship between our two peoples.
In the 1950s, we helped bring the University of Karachi and two American universities together to establish The Institute of Business Administration-Pakistan's first business school.
Thank you, I am delighted to be here and to participate in this edition of the development forum.
To begin, I would like to congratulate Administrator Shah and the entire USAID team, both here in Washington and overseas.
During the past half century, USAID has served our nation exceedingly well.
For many years in many places, your agency has been the face of America, and a superb ambassador for the United States.
I am thrilled to be here today to launch our new policy on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment, an update to a 30-year-old policy that will significantly strengthen our capacity to support women and girls by ensuring our efforts are well-integrated and based in rigorous analysis.
Two years ago, President Obama and Secretary Clinton both called for elevating development in America’s foreign policy, alongside diplomacy and defense. They both believe that the development work USAID’s staff does around the world was just as vital to our interests as the work of our soldiers and diplomats.
I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you-to gain the benefit of your collective experiences in counter trafficking and share the focus behind our new policy.
Although we don't have precise numbers, as many as 27 million men, women and children may be essentially enslaved in sex or labor exploitation-more than double the population of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago combined.
I am very pleased to welcome you today for the launch of USAID's new Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance. It is designed to become a core evidence-based resource in the field , and strengthen our own culture of data, research and evaluation within USAID. This Center represents our Agency-wide focus on measuring performance to determine what really works. Instead of driving our programming based the conclusions of a handful of experts, we will conduct ongoing, in-depth oral histories, impact evaluations and country assessments to understand where and how we can be most effective.
It's a great honor to be able to welcome the first group of Bush Institute Egyptian Fellows to Washington. You bring with you a wealth of experience in the arenas of education, health, business, politics, law and the media. You have achieved so much in your lives already - I understand that one of you is actually only 23 years old. I'm humbled. But then again, it is a sobering thought to think that when he Mozart was my age, he had been dead for 23 years.
Last updated: March 26, 2015