US Agency for International Development Releases Third Annual Letter

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), released the Agency’s third annual letter discussing ending extreme poverty and USAID’s “New Model” for development.  The Annual Letter can be read here:

Key Excerpts below:

The End of Extreme Poverty:

  • “The summer after college, I went to work on a health project in southern India. The first day I got there—the furthest from home I’d ever been on my own—I wandered into a neighboring village and met a young child. She was barefoot, dressed in muddied rags, and looked four or five-years-old. I believed I knew the face of poverty, until I saw that little girl.
  • “I thought of that memory during this year’s State of the Union address when President Obama called upon our nation to join with the world in ending extreme poverty. It was an extraordinary moment, as the President set forth a vision for one of the greatest contributions to human progress in history.”
  • “The President’s call presents an incredible opportunity. Today, we have new tools and approaches that enable us to achieve progress that was simply unimaginable in the past:  the eradication of extreme poverty and its most devastating corollaries, including widespread hunger and preventable child death.”
  • “As an Agency, we are fortunate to have this mission as our vocation, and over the last five decades, we have made some important strides against this goal, all with less than one percent of the national budget.”

A New Model for Development:

  • “For decades, success in development was judged by dollars spent, not results delivered. So while the U.S. remains one of the most generous donors in development, the much more meaningful measure of leadership is determined by results.”
  • “We’re moving from a traditional model of top-down development to a new model that engages talent and innovation everywhere to achieve extraordinary goals. We’re trying to change the way development works, with new partnerships, a greater emphasis on innovation, and a relentless focus on measuring and delivering results.

Regional Focus:

The Philippines

  • “…Today, instead of building brick-and-mortar banks, we’re using new partnerships and technologies to enable everyone in the Philippines to send money home, pay school fees, or collect their salary right on their mobile phones.  It’s called mobile money, and we’ve made it a cornerstone of our efforts to help countries leapfrog slower, more traditional paths to development.”


  • “…For the first time, governments - including our own – have real plans and structures in place to help communities protect themselves from crisis. And we’ve forged new public-private partnerships to enable communities to manage their own risks.”


  • “Through Feed the Future programs, rice yields have increased by over 50 percent, and horticulture yields by 44 percent – early progress that has been reflected globally.  This past year, we helped more than 7 million farmers around the world apply new technologies and practices, four times the number we reached the previous year.”


  • “The Call to Action brought the global health community together in an inclusive coalition behind a single, comprehensive, results-oriented goal.  Most important, it was led by developing countries themselves, and Nigeria was one of the first to bring the momentum home by launching its own initiative, Saving One Million Lives.”


  • “Last year, we formed a direct partnership with the Ministry of Education to enable them to bring their own textbooks. As a result of our support, the Ministry now has a capability to provide 40 million greatly needed textbooks in math, language arts, biology, and geography. These partnerships don’t just lead to better results. They do it at a lower cost.”

Leading With a New Generation:

  • “Perhaps today more than ever before, history belongs to youth – from the anonymous teenager whose of defiance and subsequent arrest and torture helped spark a movement for freedom in Syria to the thousands of young men and women who took to the streets in India to protest violence against women. As we pioneer a new model of development that engages problem-solvers everywhere, one thing is clear: our young people are already there.”
  • “…when I share our new model for development with these young people, they instantly get it..  They grew up in a world where real-time information and good ideas aren’t the privilege of an elite few, but actually belong to everyone with a phone in their pocket.  If we’re serious about ending extreme poverty in two decades, then we need to lead with this new generation.”
  • “…we recently founded the Higher Education Solutions Network, a constellation of seven university development laboratories that stretches from California to Massachusetts, Texas to Uganda.  The universities weren’t chosen because of the strength of their endowment or the size of their student body.  They were chosen because they recognize the unique opportunity we have to pool our talent, take a few risks, and harness the power of science to expand what’s possible in development.”

Last updated: January 28, 2015

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