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.
From President Obama to Secretary Kerry to Republicans and Democrats in Congress, we are fortunate to have had an exceptional set of leaders on both sides of the aisle who understand the importance of development to our nation's security and prosperity. By partnering with other countries to end extreme poverty and promote resilient democratic societies, we help transform developing countries into stable and prosperous nations. We open new markets for American businesses, prevent conflict and extremism from reaching our shores, and help our young people build skills in science and technology, all for less than 1 percent of the overall federal budget.
This is—without a doubt—a unique and important moment for Nepal. Thanks to a history of progress and new advances in science and technology, Nepal stands within reach of ending extreme poverty and securing a foundation for long-term economic growth. But this future is not inevitable.
Today, almost 8 million Nepalis get by on less than $1.25 a day. For them, every decision is a trade-off with potentially catastrophic consequences. Do you buy medicines for a sick parent, provide an evening meal for your children, or put a few pennies away towards a new roof or next year’s school fees? These questions are an everyday reality, especially for Nepal’s subsistence farmers, for whom extreme poverty is not just a statistic—but a drain on their basic human dignity
With the establishment of a formal USAID mission in Myanmar in 2012, the United States recognizes the recent reform efforts as the most significant opportunity in decades to engage with the people of Myanmar. And we are hard at work. In fact, USAID Administrator Dr. Shah is scheduled to be in Myanmar later this week to continue momentum on key issues.
Early on, the U.S. Embassy Manila’s United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recognized the huge potential of Cagayan de Oro City as an economic hub in the region. In 2010, USAID’s Local Implementation of National Competitiveness for Economic Growth (or LINC-EG) project assisted the City in streamlining its business permits and licensing system through the setting up of a Business One-Stop Shop.
USAID represents a chance to build partner capacities in such a way that Afghanistan will be able to join the global economy, wean itself from donor dependency, govern its population justly, and secure its own ungoverned spaces. Development, almost any way you measure it, is a good and cost-effective alternative to eventually having to deploy soldiers. Now, as the military begins to draw-down, it is more important than ever that our Afghan colleagues, the people of Afghanistan, feel secure in the knowledge that our civilian engagement will endure, and that we will support them as they enter this decade of transformation.
This morning, I want to share an overarching purpose worthy of this room that has come together to follow the teachings of Jesus: Let us work together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime. Because this is now achievable, but only if all of us—from science, business, government, and faith—come together for the poor.
We can end extreme poverty for the 1.1 billion people who live on a dollar-and-a- quarter a day.
I am delighted to be back at my alma mater to launch, on behalf of USAID, this important undertaking, the Women, Peace and Security Project that aims to increase women’s participation in peacebuilding, peace negotiation and peace advocacy in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao.
As we all know, women play a significant role in keeping the peace in our societies. Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pointed out that , “a growing body of evidence shows that women offer unique contributions to making and keeping the peace-- and that those contributions lead to better outcomes not just for women but for entire societies.”
It’s a pleasure for me to be back here in Rome with this particular team who, together, moved quickly and effectively to respond to the Sahel’s last crisis in 2012 that affected some 18 million people—and helped to ensure that a grim situation did not take an even greater toll. Now millions of people still facing food insecurity across the region, with UN estimates of 1.2 million severely insecure and 1.5 million at risk of severe malnutrition despite good harvests in 2012 and 2013, we’re reminded of the ever chronic nature of crisis in the Sahel.
With high rates of child malnutrition under even the best of circumstances, one poor harvest can push millions into severe risk. And we know that when shocks hit—droughts, floods, locusts—it is inevitably the most vulnerable populations that are the hardest hit, often without the chance to recover before new shocks strike.
Over 40 percent of Syria’s population is now in need of humanitarian assistance. The scale of this challenge is unprecedented. In three years, we have seen a brutal civil war has created not only a humanitarian crisis, but has taken a country of engineers and artists; entrepreneurs and doctors; teachers and scientists; and destroyed more than three decades of capital stock in that country. The UN estimates that Syria has lost 35 years of development in just two and a half years of conflict.
Ten months ago, I visited your town and was impressed by the diligence of the Warays. Today, I have seen your most profound trait -- your unbreakable spirit. The scale of destruction of Super Typhoon Yolanda that struck on November 8 and ravaged Eastern Visayas is beyond comprehension. Following disasters such as these, the provision of basic education services is of great importance. Education helps normalize the lives of children, and helps communities stabilize. Education allows children, teachers, and parents to again hope for the future and look forward to a better tomorrow. Education can also mitigate the effects of catastrophes in the future by inculcating disaster preparedness in children and parents alike.
Last updated: October 14, 2014