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.
Time and again, the U.S. Agency for International Development has turned to the researchers, professors, and students here at FIU to help us tackle some of the greatest challenges of our time: from minimizing the risk of disasters in El Salvador to ensuring the sustainability of some of our most precious natural resources, like the Mara River in Tanzania. It’s a partnership that has not only grown over time, but has delivered some extraordinary results for people around the world.
In the late 1980s, FIU and USAID partnered on the Agency’s first major media initiative, which focused on training journalists across Latin America in investigative journalism and election coverage. Within a few years, it brought media owners and journalists together to produce the first journalist ethics code for Central America. This effort built on a long-standing partnership—dating back to 1984—to strengthen the capacity of justice systems in Latin American countries.
HANOI -- Good morning. It is my great pleasure to help open the seventh annual meeting of the Joint Advisory Committee. I would like to thank Deputy Minister Tuyen for hosting this meeting in your new headquarters building. I would also like to recognize the international partners who have joined us this morning, including representatives from the United Nations, the Czech Republic, and New Zealand.
Your presence here exemplifies the multilateral partnership that is helping Vietnam respond to environmental and health challenges related to Agent Orange.
At USAID, we believe we have the opportunity today build a new, more open model for development that builds on our strong legacy of university engagement to solve some of the greatest development challenges of our time. In food security, that challenge is more pressing than ever. By 2050, the world will need to double agricultural production in order to feed a world of 9 billion people. At the same time, a changing climate will lead to warmer temperatures, more erratic rains, and longer more severe droughts.
Here in Mississippi, you know this better than anyone. The Mississippi river has fallen to near record lows—and a stretch of the mighty river near Greenville has had to close briefly. And rural communities across the country continue to feel pressure from a parched land. But the truth is that our nation has some remarkable systems in place to support farmers and ranchers in a time of significant drought. They can buy insurance products, access our government’s real-time data monitoring, and count on the USDA and universities like MSU to study the problem and foster new solutions.
The United States, President Obama and Secretary Clinton, have been very clear that we are calling on the Assad regime to end its brutal treatment and attacks on its own people. And President Obama has also asked us, the United States, to do everything we can to support the critical humanitarian needs that are in this region.
That's why we've already provided more than $82 million of support for humanitarian priorities, reaching more than 700,000 Syrians with food, water and medical support. And that's why, today, I'm quite pleased to announce an additional $21 million commitment. In this case to our colleagues at the World Food Programme, who are taking responsibility for providing effective food access to people who are in dire need, here in this camp, throughout parts of Syria and in other parts of the region.
VINH PHUC, Vietnam -- USAID is pleased to sponsor this set of two workshops this week to give Vietnam National Assembly members and staff the chance to hear first-hand reports from Vietnam's trade negotiators on the progress of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, and to hear from experts in law, economics, and business as they share their insights on the challenges and opportunities that the TPP represents for Vietnam.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to join you today at this workshop on the role of the National Assembly in Vietnam's budget decision-making and oversight. This workshop and other support we are providing to the Institute of Legislative Studies recognizes that the National Assembly Standing Committee, in 2008, established the ILS as the leading center of research, information and policy analysis for the National Assembly.
HEEAP is focused on improving the quality of Vietnam's engineering education and supporting the country's growing high-tech industry. USAID is pleased to collaborate with academia and private sector partners to assist Vietnam in addressing higher education needs as Vietnam enters a new phase of economic development. To date, over 100 professors have attended training sessions at Arizona State University where they received training on cutting-edge curricula development and teaching methods.
This morning we celebrate a historic milestone for our bilateral relationship. Today's ceremony marks the start of a project between Vietnam's Ministry of National Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, to clean up dioxin contaminated soil and sediment at the airport left from the Vietnam War. Over the next few years, workers will dig up the contaminated soil and sediment and place it in a stockpile, where it will be treated using thermal desorption technology. This process uses high temperatures to break down the dioxin in the contaminated soil and make it safe by Vietnamese and U.S. standards for the many men, women, and children who live and work in this area.
The United States is gravely concerned by the multiple crises that are affecting the people of Mali: a political crisis following the military coup d’état of March 21, a security crisis as a result of conflict in the North and the actions of several armed groups, a food security crisis affecting populations across the country, all resulting in a complex humanitarian crisis that is affecting the people of Mali as well as its neighbors in the Sahel. 4.6 million Malians face severe hunger; 175,000 Malian children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition; and more than 450,000 have fled their homes because of ongoing violence coupled with food insecurity.
Many of us in this room and thousands of other across the globe have and continue to spend tremendous energy on improving our effectiveness in development. We choose smarter things to do, focusing on key competencies and appropriate roles. We measure relentlessly, inviting cold hard facts to challenge our warm, fuzzy assumptions. We have become hard-nosed in pursuit of our soft goals, and, when doing so, we have often invoked the ideal of 'How They Do It In The Private Sector.' ... Perhaps we need to explore how we could use an open source development model to connect our work to all people. Perhaps to genuinely win the war against extreme poverty, leverage social networks to deliver real democracy, and ensure every kid everywhere lives to see their fifth birthday and thrives in school in the years ahead, we need to both elevate development in the Situation Room of the National Security Council and in the hearts and minds of how millions of additional people express their own personal quest for meaning.
Last updated: April 30, 2013