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.
Today, we have technologies that can help farmers grow more productive crops and improve water management. The evidence base is growing around a select number of technologies that—if taken to scale—can impact tens of millions of lives. But those technologies are not reaching nearly enough farmers. For example, the main hybrid maize used in Kenya today dates from 1986. And in Ghana, the main open-pollinated maize variety dates from the 1980s. Very promising varieties of stress-tolerant NERICA rice are hardly available in West Africa, where it could benefit millions, and fertilizer use in Africa remains the lowest in the world.
In order to tackle these challenges and help ensure key technologies reach their fullest potential, we have to focus our efforts. We know that technology alone can’t solve all of our problems. We need to be targeted in order to achieve results. The Green Revolution, while remembered for its silver bullets, was infinitely more complex. And with a growing population and challenges like climate change, today’s world is arguably even more so.
As we look to the future of the DAC, we will all have to adapt to a changing international environment. As important as it is, official development assistance (ODA) is no longer the prime source of capital investment for developing countries, and no longer has the principal role in filling savings gaps. For the United States, for example, our ODA this year will total about $30 billion, the world’s largest level by far. And yet private Americans give some $40 billion each year to international relief and development efforts through civil society institutions, faith-based groups, academic institutions and corporate social responsibility. Another $100 billion is sent by American citizens and residents to developing countries in remittances. Equally important, some $1 trillion in investment capital flows from the U.S. to developing countries from all sources each year. Private capital flows have increased seven fold over the past decade.
As a result, we need to consider the new roles that providers of development assistance must fill in the development continuum. We need to use our resources to make strategic investments, targeting the constraints to growth in our partner countries. We need to use our convening authority to bring all parties – including governments, civil society, business, and international financial institutions – to the table. We need to reduce the risk for others, such as private investors and host governments, through innovative insurance schemes and capital investment funds. We need to take calculated risks ourselves where others may fear to tread, always aware that we must be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.
For many young women in Ethiopia, opportunity is the missing link between poverty and prosperity. To address this gap, the University Preparation Camp for Ethiopian Young Women is committed to creating opportunities for young women and helping them achieve their ambitions of a university education and becoming leaders in their community. That is why the U.S. Government, through the U.S.
We need to help raise voices of all citizens—and empower their governments to respond. That’s the spirit behind today’s launch—to build on President Obama’s call for open government and inspire a global movement to end corruption and strengthen accountability. This Grand Challenge calls on the world’s brightest innovators, entrepreneurs, and engineers to design breakthrough technologies and approaches to make all voices count. In fact, we’ve already seen some cutting-edge examples at work around the world.
We know we cannot prevent droughts or floods, but we can work much harder and more strategically to ensure these shocks don’t devastate families or set back hard-won development gains. That is the goal behind today’s launch of our Agency’s first-ever Policy and Program Guidance on Building Resilience to Recurrent Crisis. With this policy, we take a step forward in essentially delivering results for the most vulnerable communities around the world.
HANOI -- It is an honor for me to join people who are so dedicated to making Vietnam a more inclusive society for people with disabilities. The theme of this year’s International Day could not be more important. “Removing barriers” and being more inclusive – those are goals that resonate in every country, including my own. But they mean nothing without leadership in government and in society.
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.”
Last updated: November 06, 2013