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Administrator Shah Touts “Open Source” Model for Development, Food Security

In a speech at the Aspen Institute on August 1, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah outlined a bold new vision for international development, one that eschews a top-down institutional model and instead empowers problem-solvers and innovators across many fields to take on the world’s toughest challenges.

Delivering keynote remarks at the inaugural Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Lecture in Aspen, Colo., Shah discussed the need for an “open source” development model that taps into the network of non-traditional development stakeholders (corporate leaders, faith leaders, philanthropists, youth, etc.) to discover creative solutions to global problems.

The open source model, Shah said, involves harnessing the ingenuity and expertise of an increasingly diverse global development community. As examples of this principle in action, Shah highlighted USAID’s Development Innovation Venture Fund, which evaluates and scales entrepreneurs’ creative ideas for development, as well as the agency’s Grand Challenges, which have encouraged more than 1,500 innovators to submit proposals on issues like childhood survival, childhood literacy, and powering agriculture activities using clean, off-grid energy.

Noting Feed the Future’s successes to date in combating food insecurity around the world,Administrator Shah emphasized that, “the real potential of Feed the Future is its next, more open source, stage.” In a nod to the New Alliance for Global Food Security and Nutrition, he described how Feed the Future is working with six countries in sub-Saharan Africa to make reforms that will encourage private investment, while simultaneously working with 45 food and agriculture companies worldwide to connect them with business opportunities in these nations.

The launch of the New Alliance at the 2012 G8 Summit included investment commitments totaling more than $3 billion from these firms, which will go toward expanding seed production, small-scale irrigation, and soil quality mapping. Administrator Shah noted that this collaborative effort between the public and private sectors is expected to move 50 million people out of poverty in ten years. “Our role is as a facilitator and connector—not the party in charge,” Shah said of the U.S. Government’s participation in the New Alliance.

Did you know that the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, where President Obama first announced Feed the Future, envisioned a new way of doing development underpinned by five key principles, including mobilizing and aligning the resources of diverse partners and stakeholders? 

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