MFAN Statement: USAID Nominee Shah’s Leadership Needed on Development

091110_rjs_portraitNovember 10, 2009 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

We applaud the nomination of Dr. Rajiv Shah to be Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  We are hopeful that his unique combination of knowledge about global health, agriculture, and other issues will allow him to provide a strong and indispensable development voice as major decisions are made about U.S. foreign policy.  Congress should confirm Dr. Shah quickly.

If confirmed, Dr. Shah will take leadership of America’s premier development agency at a time when we face complex challenges in the developing world, not just from conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also from transnational threats such as disease, poverty and lack of opportunity, hunger, climate change, and political instability.  This is why the Obama Administration has pledged to elevate development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy alongside defense and diplomacy, and is already undertaking a whole-of-government review of how the U.S. engages with poor countries.  If confirmed, Dr. Shah will be the U.S. government’s lead voice on these urgent issues; therefore, the Obama Administration should take the following steps to empower him during these challenging times by:

  • Giving him a seat at the National Security Council from which he can bring a high-level and distinct development voice to critical foreign policy discussions, including the White House’s ongoing Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy;
  • Installing him as a co-chair of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR); and
  • Revitalizing the agency he will lead by restoring USAID’s policy planning and budget capabilities, as well as the technical development capacity and expertise of the agency (as provided for in the bipartisan Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, S.1524, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider soon).

We look forward to supporting Dr. Shah and the Obama Administration in their efforts to strengthen development and make foreign assistance more effective and accountable for the 21st century.

CONTACT: Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or shiersteiner@gpgdc.com.

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