‘Success is helping people transition
and joint projects, India is still beset by huge problems of
poverty, disease, education and health disparities.
How optimistic are you that these problems can ever be
How important is the US-India strategic partnership to
making a dent in these critical areas?
It is very important, and I am very optimistic.
On my last trip to India, we had state health leaders present their strategies and report cards how they were going to
achieve the end of prevention of child deaths in their states.
We launched new public-private partnerships with players like Hindustan Zinc who can mine more zinc and produce the zinc syrup that allows us to reach children with
something that can prevent deaths related to diarrhea,
which will be an important breakthrough.
We are also partnering in the area of health with the
Hinduja Hospital system and tracking and treating both
tuberculosis and studying what is now known as XDR TB,
a very difficult strain of tuberculosis that has proven resistant to a lot of existing drug regimens.
By partnering with India on science, technology and
innovation to tackle these problems, we can both have
achieved success there and in many cases like XDR TB,
develop insights that will have real relevance to the rest of
the world, including right here in the United States.
What have USAID’s greatest successes been under your
leadership, and what would you attribute them to?
I’d say our focused efforts to build large-scale public-private partnerships to address massive hunger and preventable child deaths are definitely at the top of the list.
I attribute success in those areas to our ability to reach
out and engage Fortune 500 CEOs and their companies to
get them involved as partners.
Before, we might have just done traditional development
projects in Ethiopia for example, and sent food aid.
Today, we are reforming our food aid system to create
more incentives for local farmers to produce more partnering with Dupont to make sure those local farmers have
access to improved hybrid maize varieties or seed varieties
and working aggressively with the government to help
them pass a new seed law and to change the way they govern the agricultural sector so they are more open to trade
Those things taken together will help them not only end
hunger in Ethiopia, but help the whole region see that there
is a pathway out of chronic hunger, and under-nutrition.
It’s a new way of working. It’s a new business model for
USAID, but it has proven highly successful so far, and in
that one example, we’ve motivated companies to make $3.5
billion of private investments in the agriculture sector in
Africa, which is a tremendous amount.
We can now detail each of the specific commitments and
how they are progressing often in partnerships with
This hasn’t been done before in that manner and that
kind of public-private partnership is our biggest success
There was a time when the USAID didn’t have the chops or
the kind of gravitas to merit support from the hierarchy at
the State Department and the White House.
from aid to self-sufficiency’
COUR TESY: S K VEMMER/DEPAR TMENT OF S TATE VIA FLICKR. COM/PHOTOS/USAIDAFGHANIS TAN
Raj Shah in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, February 2011. He is leading the USAID to help people re-enter communities, bringing peace and
security where there was violence and conflict.
Is there now that back-up from the State Department and
the White House?
Yes, yes, and yes.
A resounding yes, yes, and yes.
There are probably very few examples of federal agencies
that have done what we have done in the last few years.
We’ve hired about 1,600 people, helping to increase the
size of our foreign service by 40 percent in an effort to do a
better job of tracking and being accountable for the investments we make around the world.
We have been much more present in the National
Security Council and in the highest levels of policy making,
when it relates to Mali or Syria or Afghanistan or Pakistan.
We have built a tremendous amount of bipartisan support on Capitol Hill by engaging, listening to, and addressing the very real criticism that members on both sides of
the aisle had of the way American assistance was being
conducted around the world.
And we’ve pivoted to being much more focused on priva-tizing local solutions, whether that means trying to untie
food aid and invest in local farmers so there is a transition
from dependency to self-sufficiency in that area.
Or whether it means finding more than 1,200 local
organizations in over 70 countries that we’ve now invested
more than $750 million in.
Those efforts are really extraordinary and would only
have happened with the kind of very high level support that
we’ve had from President Obama, from Secretary Clinton
and now Secretary Kerry.
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