Current, Former USAID Administrators Talk Accomplishments, Visions for Agency’s Anniversary

What has the U.S. Agency for International Developmentachieved over its past 50 years of existence and how is the agency looking to move forward? Current USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and a number of past USAID heads have shared their thoughts.

In a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Shah focused on USAID’s engagement in efforts to improve global health, which he described as a good example of an area where the current administration is building on “past successes.” Meanwhile, going forward, Shah said the vision is to improve synergies and relationships between USAID and governments in its partner countries.

Shah also highlighted the importance of transparency, innovation, inclusive leadership and effective impact evaluation as the essential elements to more effective U.S. foreign aid, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network notes in a blog post.

The CSIS-hosted panel discussions also featured Peter McPherson, who stressed the importance of continued bipartisan support for USAID, arguing that “a hungry child has no politics.” McPherson, who headed USAID 1981-1987, also commended the current administration’s Feed the Future Initiative, which he said shows promising steps toward revamping how the U.S. delivers food aid and support food security initiatives.

J. Brian Atwood emphasized the need for coordination of U.S. development efforts while Andrew Natsios called for patience, arguing that expectations for development projects must not command immediate results. Natsios also called for more sustainability and continuity in USAID development projects.

Atwood served as USAID administrator from 1993 to 1999 while Natsios headed the agency from 2001 to 2006.

Henrietta Fore, who preceded Shah as USAID administrator, meanwhile, spoke of the importance of robust private sector engagement and local ownership of aid and development projects.

Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.