‘Success is helping people transition
Are the devastating earthquake in Haiti and the awful
floods in Pakistan in 2010 a distant memory now?
How have these disasters shaped your perspectives in
terms of your work?
Absolutely not (a distant memory).
There is always an ongoing commitment to both tremendous disasters that took place where America played a lead
role in protecting vulnerable human beings around the
world, whether it is the Haiti earthquake, which led to
250,000 deaths, (which) was also the largest and most
effective humanitarian response in terms of scale and outcomes that was ever mobilized; or the Pakistani floods that
affected 11 million people.
Our response directly co-related to helping those people
get back on their feet, and supporting Pakistan’s balance of
payments through what otherwise would have been a crisis.
The Somali famine, in which more than 100,000 children
died in large part because of a terrorist group called Al-Shabab, or today in opposition-controlled Syria, the United
States has always been the world’s leader in addressing
major humanitarian disasters, whether they are naturally
caused or resulting from conflict.
We will continue to do extraordinary things and to do
that and part of my responsibility is to carry that mantle
forward for this agency and for our country.
So, we are always engaged in those activities.
You cut your teeth in development work for seven years at
the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with its immense
resources and specific projects, before you joined the
You now deal with the administration, budget constraints,
allocation of both personnel and resources.
Do you find yourself frustrated at times that these challenges can be overwhelming?
The responsibilities in public service do tend to be broader and more diverse.
I’ve had to learn how to work effectively with Congress,
how to navigate and build bipartisan support for major initiatives like the effort we launched to end preventable child
We got more than 150 countries, including the United
States, to commit to achieving that goal and have accelerated investment in 24 of those countries that account for 80
percent of child deaths.
In India, we worked with private sector leaders and public sector leaders to build partnerships in high burden disease states to address the fact that India still accounts for
22 percent of the 7 million kids that die under the age of 5.
I am now seeing the results of these efforts as we are
steadily reducing the number of children under 5 who die
of preventable causes.
The lesson I’ve learnt from that is when you have a big
idea and when you have the right constellation of partners,
and when you can build bipartisanship for big initiatives,
we can still get some pretty tremendous things done.
Sometimes, it takes American leadership to set and
achieve those kinds of global goals.
So, if anything, I feel empowered by the opportunity to
build movements that can help do extraordinary things.
But in terms of budgetary constraints, etc, I remember
when you appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations
from aid to self-sufficiency’
enter communities, bringing peace and security where
there was violence and conflict.
Raj Shah speaks to reporters on the flight line of a Pakistani air
force base in Pakistan about relief efforts in the country after the devastating
floods of 2010.
CPL JENIE FISHER/US ARM Y
Committee to present the administration’s Fiscal Year 2014
development aid requests, each senator asked you about
some project or the other or complained that some region
was not being served.
For example, Senator Robert Menendez, New Jersey
Democrat and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, came at you saying that Latin America, South America was seemingly being ignored.
How do you meet this challenge?
I spoke to Senator Menendez and reported to him on my
recent trip to Colombia where USAID is a core part of the
peace process that has an opportunity to end what has been
a five decade-long conflict between the FARC (Fuerzas
Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia or Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas and the government.
We are doing extraordinary things to help people gain
title back to their lands and their farms so that they can re-
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