WASHINGTON, D.C. – Food aid has been a hot topic in government recently with discussion surrounding the improvement of United States foreign food aid policies and the process of delivering food and supplies to countries that are in dire need. The current administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Rajiv Shah, has presented some new ideas for improving foreign aid strategies to decrease costs and promote development across the globe.
Instead of using USAID funds for direct services, Shah has stated that a better option would be to encourage competition between already existing organizations and nonprofits in order to reach certain goals. USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures program takes this idea one step further by funding projects that are “intended to reach country-wide size” as well as those that are start-ups in order to address specific goals to “improve infant mortality, increase literacy, promote clean energy, and fight corruption.”
In order to fund these projects, Shah has been looking into the private sector for donor companies such as Cisco and Google. These connections are an “absolute game changer”, says Shah, and can provide much needed funding for programs that will continue to decrease the rates of hunger, poverty, and disease throughout the world. Without increased government funding or any change in policy, other organizations will have to work in tandem with the private sector to continue for foreign aid and development programs.
USAID has implemented these new ideas in countries like India with a goal to create a “development innovation laboratory.” The purpose of the work in India, Shah says, is “to try and find those partners in the private sector, scientists and entrepreneurs who are creating great new solutions for development and then helping them apply those solutions here in India but also elsewhere in the world.”
In India, reducing child mortality is the foremost goal of USAID and of the government of India. According to Shah, “as part of our support, we’re focusing on helping the government and these private companies and philanthropists reach the hundreds and millions of those people who live in a lower-income setting.” Partnerships are also being made with pharmaceutical companies and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Foreign aid and diplomacy, according to Shah’s terms,should be more focused not only on American corporations and funding, but also on the discovery of innovative institutions within the countries receiving the aid. Focusing on solving long-term issues, supporting local institutions, and finding innovation and technology up to the task are his main strategies to revamp the way people think about foreign aid and make it more efficient overall.
– Sarah Rybak
Source: National Journal, New York Times
Photo: National Journal