Rajiv Shah is eyeing expanding public-private partnerships to lift people out of poverty and ensure food security.
The U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, in a Foreign Policy interview, said one of the big failings in food security has been a lack of effective partnerships with the private sector. And he said USAID is now “rebalancing” and “getting back” into building infrastructure that would help keep poor people in places like Kenya, Ethiopia and Guatemala from recurrent hunger crises.
Shah cited USAID’s partnership with Pepsi in Ethiopia as an example of an effective collaboration. USAID invests in feeder roads, and Pepsi and the government make parallel investments in technology and guarantee purchase of chickpeas from farmers. He said such a partnership helps move women-headed households out of poverty.
Shah said it is that kind of partnership that USAID needs to “transform infrastructure.” But he said USAID does not have the “capacity or resourcing” to do that on its own.
Private-sector engagement is part of USAID’s development priorities for 2012, along with building resilience and country ownership. Shah said USAID will shift $4 billion to $6 billion from its annual budget to local institutions to strengthen partnerships with the private sector and governments, and “reduce the need for aid over time.”
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