USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah outlined his vision for USAID in ending extreme poverty. The speech delivered yesterday raised three focal areas for USAID: public-private partnerships, mutual accountability in country programs and disaster-prone areas and communities.
“We know we cannot prevent droughts or hurricanes from happening, but we can work much harder and much more strategically to ensure these shocks don’t devastate families or set back hard-won development gains,” said Shah at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC.
“That is why the United States has helped rally the world behind a new emphasis on resilience. Although our work is still in its early stages, we are already starting to see important results.”
The remarks come at a time when the United States is providing a heavy response to the disaster in the Philippines following the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan two weeks ago. Led by the US military and the Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance, the US has helped provide direct relief work in the Philippines and support the government’s efforts to help its citizens.
Resilience efforts in places of the world like the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel will help to ensure that natural disasters do not have as much of a negative impact on people in vulnerable areas. However, ending extreme poverty will require other long term efforts, he stressed.
One such area is bringing in the private sector to leverage its experience and assets. Foreign aid is an important part of USAID’s poverty alleviation work, but more can be done through trade, said Shah.
“Instead of trying to deliver results with our dollars alone, we need a new model of development that creates public private partnerships that deliver results and harnesses the private sector as an engine of growth and opportunity,” he said.
“At its core, this model is grounded in the reality that political leadership, and policy reform are essential preconditions to driving investment to regions and sectors where it will have the biggest impact on reducing extreme poverty and ending the most devastating consequences of child hunger and child death.”
He expressed optimism that it is possible to end extreme poverty, but the status quo will not cut it.
Read his full speech here.