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.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good morning. It is my great pleasure to join you here this morning at the Private Sector Forum on the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Law.
Today’s forum is important, because it addresses a challenge that Cambodia, as well as many countries around the world, are facing: How do we pursue economic development without sacrificing the health of our environment?
The U.S. Agency for International Development, which I represent, is an important supporter of education around the world. Education is a pathway to better opportunities for every person, their community, and their nation. Through the School Dropout Prevention Program (SDPP), USAID is working closely with the Ministry of Education to achieve Cambodia’s Millennium Development Goal: Universal Access to Basic Education by 2015. The SDPP program supports the Ministry’s policy on Preventing Student from Dropout of School and Information Communication Technology in education, which calls for access to ICT for all teachers and students, especially at the secondary level.
USAID and CCRDA share a common mission in Ethiopia.
At USAID, we fundamentally believe that ending extreme poverty requires inclusive, broad-based, sustainable growth; free, peaceful, and self-reliant societies with effective, legitimate governments; human development through health and education, and social safety nets that reach the poorest and most vulnerable. Similarly, our cross-cutting efforts in promoting good governance, empowering women and girls, and mitigating climate change are all essential to ending poverty.
Resilient, democratic societies don’t simply maintain stability: they are essential to sustaining development progress. At USAID we believe they embrace not only elections, but also legitimate, inclusive, and accountable institutions that effectively deliver services to all of their people, advancing human dignity and development. They have the ability to manage conflict, mitigate the impact of natural disasters, and forestall crisis that otherwise roll back development gains.
Why do we do this on behalf of the American people? In addition to the moral and humanitarian imperatives to assist those in need, the United States is safer and stronger when fewer people face destitution, when our trading partners are flourishing, when nations around the world can withstand crisis.
Globally, nearly 300,000 women and over 3 million infants die each year from complications in pregnancy and birth – with unplanned pregnancies often carrying the highest risk. Here in Cambodia, as evidenced by our last Demographic and Health Survey, 206 Cambodian women needlessly lose their lives for every 100,000 live births -- usually from preventable and treatable causes.
You all are playing an important role in promoting land reform and the sustainable management and protection of Cambodia’s environment. It is only through our combined and coordinated efforts that we can ensure a better future for millions of Cambodians.
I am pleased to represent USAID at this very timely launch of the Lancet Every Newborn series here in Ethiopia designed to focus our collective efforts on addressing one of the most pressing issues for our child survival agenda, preventable newborn deaths. Thanks to the leadership and determination of the Ministry of Health and health workers across the country coupled with the support from many partners here today, much progress has been made in reducing under-five child mortality with Ethiopia proudly achieving MDG goal of cutting under-five mortality by two-thirds.
Yet while the 2014 mini-DHS results tells us that more mothers are giving birth with the assistance of a health care professional, even more are seeking ante-natal care, and many more are using contraception to space births. Newborns constitute 43 percent of under five deaths in Ethiopia, close to the world average of 44 percent, and represent a larger proportion of under-five deaths now than they did in 1990. Thus, despite progress in child survival, the single most important remaining cause of death among children less than five years of age is newborn deaths—deaths within the first 28 days of life.
It is an honor to be here this morning. Today, the United States and Kenya join hands to reaffirm our joint commitment to the fight against climate change. Today, we take action that will help us avert a worldwide climate catastrophe. Today, we launch a joint three-year project to help Kenya achieve its goal of low-carbon, sustainable economic growth and development.
We need to continue to open our doors to scientists, engineers, and innovators around the world to define the challenges, test our ideas, and scale the solutions. We need to measure success differently. Mentor local organizations and companies. Build sustainable markets. And we need to work every day to ensure that our efforts will be replaced by those of strong institutions, vibrant private sectors, and thriving civil societies. We look to you to serve as champions of this new way of working. Your partnership is essential to building enduring progress in the world’s most vulnerable communities. As you do, you’ll be creating opportunities abroad in the markets of the future—even as you help build the pathways out of poverty for millions of people around the world.
The USAID TB CARE I project has been one of the key parts of our assistance in improving the tuberculosis service in Kyrgyzstan.
USAID recognizes the vibrant work of women leaders throughout the region. We know your exchanges over the next few days will offer many fruitful opportunities for you to learn and benefit from one another’s experiences. The theme of the workshop is exploring the way forward. Although the workshop will last only a few days, I hope that each of you will listen carefully, participate fully, and be inspired. Learn from your neighbors. Take back a new approach to make a meaningful change when you return home.
Last updated: March 26, 2015