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Shah Sworn In As USAID Administrator

On Thursday, Rajiv Shah was sworn in as USAID administrator at an official ceremony in Washington, D.C., Foreign Policy’s blog, “The Cable,” reports. “Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed overwhelming praise and relief before swearing in Shah,” according to the blog, which noted that Clinton’s remarks provided some “insider details” about Shah.

At the ceremony, Shah highlighted some of the themes from Clinton’s development speech on Wednesday. “We can elevate development to stand with diplomacy and defense as a true pillar of our foreign policy,” he said. “And in doing so we can build a broad political constituency, because people want to support this work, they just want to know we can do it effectively,” the blog reports.

“Meanwhile, the development community is busy digesting Clinton’s speech and contemplating what a true integration of development and diplomacy might really entail,” writes “The Cable” (Rogin, 1/7). 

VOA News, NPR Interview Shah

In an interview with VOA News, Shah said USAID will need to undergo some changes, and he plans to further develop the relationship with countries receiving aid from the agency. “He says Washington will listen more and make sure that the countries it works with have the political commitment to move forward with development plans, programs and activities. ‘Really, the long-term sustainable large-scale transformation of a society that represents the success of global development, can only happen, if those countries are completely committed to and vested in that vision of success,’ he said,” VOA News writes.

Shah also noted that the U.S. would like to give countries more power to determine how aid is spent, while at the same time the U.S. will monitor spending to make sure its donations are used wisely, according to VOA News. “As we, and if we, give up control to some extent in order to support country leadership, we should have high standards and we should have strong ability to track outcomes to monitor resources and how they flow and to ensure that we’re generating real results in a sustainable way for American taxpayers,” he said (Ide, 1/7).

On Thursday, Shah was also interviewed on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” In response to a question about how USAID decides where it will focus its efforts, Shah talked about the U.S. global agriculture initiative.

“We are pursuing and the president has committed to a $3.5 billion commitment to a food security initiative because for the first time in decades, there are now more than a billion people that go to bed every night hungry… And we are pursuing that effort in places where it’s most appropriate and where we can be most effective at reducing the numbers of the hungry and the malnourished at large scale. These are all parts of a very broad and important USAID mission of activities.” 

The interview covered other topics, including Shah’s experience at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the connection between development and national security (Block, 1/7).