Shah Charged with Leading U.S. Relief Effort to Haiti

New USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah has been named the Obama Administration’s point man on disaster recovery efforts following the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  See below for a number of media articles featuring Shah from the last few days, including “USAID, America’s Non-military Muscle,” from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show:

  • Remarks by the President on Rescue Efforts in Haiti (White House, January 13) And to ensure that we coordinate our effort, going forward, I’ve designated the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Dr. Rajiv Shah, to be our government’s unified disaster coordinator.
  • Rajiv Shah: Point man on Haiti crisis (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, January 13) Shah emphasized that the final decisions on the U.S. response would take a little longer to develop.  “This is about having options, and the president has asked us to make sure we look across the entire government, all of our capabilities, and make sure we generate as many options as possible,” he said.
  • New USAID Head Takes Helm of Haiti Disaster (USA Today-Ken Dilanian, January 14) “He’s really gone from obscurity to the front lines,” said Robert Perito, a Haiti expert at the U.S. Institute for Peace. “We are committed to a significant effort,” Shah later told reporters at the State Department, standing alongside Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, head of U.S. Southern Command, and Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff.
  • U.S. Launches Major Response to Haiti Earthquake (Voice of America, January 13) “We are working aggressively and in a highly coordinated way, across the federal government, to bring all of the assets and capacities we have to bear to quickly and effectively provide as much assistance as possible,” said Rajiv Shah. “The goal of the relief effort in the first 72 hours will be very focused on saving lives.”
  • The Biggest Challenges Ahead for USAID Chief Raj Shah (Seattle Times-Kristi Heim, January 14) Just when I was getting ready to write about how Shah must prepare to tackle things like streamlining bureaucracy, localizing programs and funding, and strengthening support for democratic governance (no pressure), along comes the biggest disaster in two centuries, striking an already fragile nation 700 miles from Miami. Now Shah, 36, is leading U.S. relief efforts just six days after being sworn into office.  Shah’s first major test is also an opportunity for the country to show a struggling neighbor how it intends to redefine its role in the world.

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