Remarks by Administrator Rajiv Shah at MDG Countdown 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Remarks as Prepared

This is an exciting and important time for development. We’re beginning to see incredible results taking shape—results that aren’t just impacting individuals or communities, but entire nations.

El Salvador has achieved 96 percent primary school completion rates for boys and girls—up from 81 percent 10 years ago. In Ethiopia, in the last six years, under-5 mortality has fallen by almost 30 percent—thanks, in part, to efforts to empower 30,000 community health workers with live-saving tools.

And in Afghanistan—probably one of the hardest places on earth to see clear development results—we’ve helped reduce maternal mortality to one-fifth of what it was a decade ago and expand basic services from only 6 percent of the country to 64 percent.

Some of these results have brought us above and beyond our MDG targets, as we’ve seen this past year, when the world met the goals of reducing poverty by 50 percent and halving the proportion of people without access to clean drinking water.

Other results have brought us to the very doorstep of MDGs—but not yet through the doors. Although under-5 deaths worldwide have fallen below 7 million for the first time in history, we know that we have the tools and the knowledge to save every life. But no matter what, the stories we’ll hear about today represent tremendous progress and a relentless focus on partnerships, innovation and empowering women.

We’ll hear about a social enterprise in Bangladesh that is partnering with seven major companies—including Unilever and Lal Teer Seeds—to develop a rural sales-force of 3,000 poor women who provide hygiene, agricultural and nutritional products to the hardest to reach families.

We’ll hear about how a single state in India reduced infant mortality by 15 percent and increased skilled birth attendance by over 60 percent in just five years.

And we’ll hear about programs in Indonesia that have worked with local communities and all levels of government to deliver access to clean water to over 1.8 Indonesians and to leverage 60 cents on every dollar spent through public-private partnerships.

At the same time as we celebrate our progress today, we also have the opportunity to look forward beyond the horizon of 2015 with renewed energy and commitment.

We have the opportunity to change the way we work in development to accelerate our efforts and realize the end-state goals we seek: an end to extreme poverty and preventable child death; a quality education for all children; and the rights of all citizens to fully participate in—and be protected by—their government.

These goals are as aspirational as they are achievable.

And at USAID, we’re moving to create a new model of development that brings tens of thousands of new people into our efforts to realize these goals.

Everyone from big private sector companies, to faith-based organizations, to student leaders on campuses around the world. We call it “open source development,” and it reflects our desire to harness the creativity and expertise of this broad development community to solve the greatest challenges of our time.

Thank you—and it is my pleasure to introduce Justine Greening, the United Kingdom’s new development secretary.

Millennium Plaza Hotel New York, NY

Last updated: June 25, 2015

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