USAID’s Shah On Six-Day Visit To Africa

“[O]n his first visit to Africa since taking charge as the administrator of USAID in January,” Rajiv Shah said in Nairobi, Kenya on Saturday that the agency “is working to make Africa a bigger priority within the organization,” the Associated Press writes. USAID, which “funds and runs programs to improve health, food security, democracy and entrepreneurship in Africa,” has offices in 23 countries on the continent, according to the AP (5/15).

While in Juba, Sudan, Shah announced a five-year, $55 million Food, Agribusiness, and Rural Markets (FARM), “mainly to help improve the ability of small farmers to grow staple crops,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports. The program will focus on the Equatoria region, which is believed to have  agricultural production potential, according to a USAID statement released Monday. “Agriculture is the backbone of the economic development in southern Sudan, employing the majority of the population of more than 8 million, 80 percent of whom live in rural areas,” the statement notes, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek (Boswell, 5/17).

Shah’s trip will focus on the “development and progress of President [Barack] Obama’s Global Health Initiative and Food Security Initiative,” and the administrator will concentrate on “U.S. bilateral and regional investments in agriculture, health, and democracy and governance,” a USAID press release states. 

Shah is also writing about his travels and reactions to meetings on USAID’s recently launched “Impactblog” (5/12). So far, Shah’s written about his preparation for the trip, a visit to Mbagathi Hospital, a Kenyan health facility that has received USAID support for the past two years and a meeting with World Food Programme officials at the Otash camp for internally displaced persons in Sudan.