Shah cited USAID’s response to the recent disaster in Haiti as an example of the rising entrepreneurial spirit in their agency. USAID looked for innovative ways to help Haitians in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, when the normal channels for requesting and receiving resources for humanitarian aid were proving cumbersome. The Agency purchased local food stockpiles, for example, and distributed as much as they could get immediately, eliminating the waiting time for official food assistance to arrive from the US. They also partnered closely with the military to restore the Port-au-Prince airport and operate it at three times its standard capacity, to get food and other supplies on the ground and distributed across the country in record time. As a result, USAID and the World Food Program were together able to feed 3.5 million Haitians, and the United States ensured that over one million received vaccinations. Now, months later, USAID continues to work in Haiti and has made it a priority to operate jointly with locals (like water truck drivers who distribute chlorine tablets for them as they deliver water, helping cut diarrheal diseases by 12%) and NGOs (like the Gates Foundation, with whom they are teaching Haitians how to use cell phones to effectively manage their financials and develop businesses).
Shah’s reform efforts match the ever-increasing need to efficiently and innovatively meet challenges around the world, both for humanitarian recovery and for stabilizing communities as a matter of national security. With these reforms and continued support for the President’s Feed the Future and global health initiative, the United States could move back on target to meet the Millennium Development Goals, which include halving the worldwide total of hungry people.