USAID’s Shah Optimistic About Somalia’s Future

USAID's Rajiv Shah, right, with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. Shah became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia in more than 20 years.
USAID’s Rajiv Shah, right, with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. Shah became the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Somalia in more than 20 years.

By Kathryn McConnell
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
February 28, 2013
Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said he is optimistic about the future of Somalia.

“Today the Somalia government is attempting to build its own capacity and fight corruption to make sure that public finances are transparent and that public services are being delivered to their people,” Shah said in a February 28 conference call with African reporters.

Shah said that during a visit to Mogadishu February 21, he met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, Cabinet members, local governors, the mayor of Mogadishu and local leaders of civil society.

He became the highest-ranking U.S. government official to visit Somalia in more than 20 years. The purpose was to build on the Somali president’s meeting with President Obama in Washington in January. Shah said Obama repeated “America’s commitment to the Somali government and the Somali people as they hope and work to build a brighter future for themselves and all of Somalia.”

During Shah’s visit to Mogadishu, he announced an additional $20 million in support of Somalia’s development.

“As we make these investments, we do them in a transparent, results-oriented way so Somalia can stand up its own capacity to govern itself and not require large amounts of humanitarian aid,” Shah said.

He described some of the progress already being made as a result of the U.S. partnership with Somalia.

He said USAID worked with the mayor of Mogadishu to install dozens of solar-powered street lights in the capital city. He said that when he met the mayor and local partners, they told him that “people in Mogadishu came out to celebrate in the streets the first night that lights went on.”

He also said that USAID is helping 400 communities build community development projects that range from support for the fishing industry in coastal communities to helping people who have been in displaced persons camps get access to seed, fertilizer and farm implements “so they can return to their communities and rebuild their communities and their agriculture and move themselves off of food aid.”

He noted that Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, and fishing holds great potential for the country’s economic development, along with agriculture.

Those activities support “transition from dependency to dignity and self-sufficiency,” he said.

UPCOMING TRAVEL TO ASIA

Shah next will travel March 5–9 to Mumbai, India, and Rangoon and Naypyitaw, Burma. In Mumbai he will announce new programs and partnerships that will reduce preventable child deaths. He also will meet with senior government officials, members of India’s private sector and representatives from civil society and deliver remarks at the Indian Philanthropy Forum and the Asia Society.

In Rangoon, Shah will highlight the progress USAID has made in establishing a partnership with Burma.