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.
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.
I’m delighted to participate in today’s launch of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s first policy on Youth in Development. At its core, this policy is about making youth around the world an important priority in the decisions and implementation of our work. Last year, the global population of youth surpassed seven billion people, more than half of whom are under the age of 30. A large majority – nearly 90 percent – live in the developing world. Whether we are raising awareness about HIV/AIDS, building roads, or expanding access to financing for entrepreneurs, the support and engagement of young people is necessary for long-term, sustainable development.
As supported by the United States, LMI has implemented programs through a variety of interagency partners on both sides of the Pacific. The U.S. Agency for International Development, my employer, is proud to have a prominent role in that support. Through bilateral programs in LMI countries and regional initiatives managed from offices in Bangkok, we have been particularly active in promoting cooperation on health, environment and water, and education. USAID is hardly the only agency involved, however.
This pragmatic, even utilitarian approach toward LGBT issues guides the work of my agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development. Our development assistance will never be fully effective unless we draw on the full contributions of the entire population, including marginalized groups such as the LGBT community, women, young people, ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, indigenous people, and displaced persons.
For the LGBT community, this means supporting the political, economic and social empowerment of the community. It means protecting LGBT people during periods of conflict or humanitarian emergencies, when they’re most vulnerable. It means mainstreaming these issues into our programs in food security, global health, climate change, economic growth, and democracy and governance. Most of all, it means involving the LGBT community in our partner countries, not just as victims, but as planners, implementers and beneficiaries of our programs under the watchwords, “Nothing about them without them.”
I am honored to be here to mark another milestone in USAID’s support to Ethiopia for land administration and land tenure.
I am greatly honored to be here in Oromia and to launch USAID’s Livestock Market Development project in support of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Growth Program. Let me set the context for this important project and for the U.S. and Ethiopia’s partnership in agriculture and livestock market development.
The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been working in the areas of people with disabilities for 20 years so far. An important part of assistance has been supporting education for children with disabilities. Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training's leadership and partnership have been critical in our efforts to address barriers in education for children with disabilities. And through this kind of partnership, they can bring about the significant cultural and attitude changes in support of children with disabilities.
In the last few years, we’ve seen the momentum build and real results begin to emerge—including 8.8 million children reached through nutrition programs, and 1.8 million people who adopted improved technologies or management practices.
And although the genuine impact of our work will only be understood years from now, we have a growing sense today that the world is increasingly better prepared to absorb any shocks and stumbles without seeing families slip into poverty or nations into unrest.
UWC has partnered with USAID in a number of areas, particularly in developing and shaping higher education programs, by making USAID's development programs relevant and responsive to local needs.
I cannot tell you the number of times each week that I and other senior government officials in White House meetings refer to OTI efforts in critical crisis countries, from Haiti to Sri Lanka, from Burma to Yemen, from Kenya to Lebanon. In these situations, OTI is the eyes, the ears, the face and the conscience of our government and frequently the international community as a whole.
Equally important is the effect that the OTI model has had on the rest of the agency and the rest of the U.S. government’s foreign affairs community. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, OTI should feel flattered indeed. We are all seeking to replicate such techniques and practices as rapid deployment, decentralized programming and decision-making, expeditionary mindsets, data-driven strategies, in-situ learning, incorporation of best practices into on-going programs, adoption of sustainability principles from the beginning, and development of co-deployment platforms focusing on a broad multi-disciplinary surge capacity.
Last updated: November 06, 2013