04 April 2014
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and more than 30 other partners from business and development organizations are announcing a new anti-poverty effort, one that advances a science and technology–based approach to development.
“To solve our most intractable development challenges, USAID has established a new way of working,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah in establishing the U.S. Global Development Lab. “The lab will engage a global community of inventors, academics, researchers, entrepreneurs, investors and corporate leaders in science and technology to invent, test and scale the most promising and cost-effective solutions to end extreme poverty.”
Speaking at New York City event April 3, Shah also announced a fellowship program that will send 60 accomplished young U.S. leaders in science, technology and innovation to 12 countries to collaborate on development challenges at universities, research institutions, NGOs and private sector companies.
Scientists and technology experts associated with the lab will create a new global marketplace of innovations designed to solve development problems. The partners will strive to make those innovations increasingly available through the developing world within five years.
MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel Yohannes said in a prepared statement that his agency will be working through the lab to share data and evidence about what works in development, scale up proven projects developed through the lab, and search out and support effective new approaches.
The April 3 announcement marks a scale-up of collaborative efforts that already are underway. U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, described earlier USAID partnerships that have yielded promising developments.
“USAID’s collaboration with Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine has produced a much-needed infant respiratory device that will now be accessible to the developing world,” Castro said in a statement from the USAID press office.
Prominent organizations from the corporate world are also involved in the Development Lab, companies such as Coke, DuPont and Wal-Mart. Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation, said her company, a major food retailer, is hoping to spark innovation that will provide answers to the future needs of an expanding world population.
“By collaborating through the lab, we can build a more resilient food supply chain, from the farm and oceans to customers’ kitchens all around the world,” she said.
The humanitarian and relief organization CARE has decades of global experience in development, with experience in the application of technology targeted to solve particular problems. “We have seen the incredible benefits of integrating modern technology into our work with women and girls — from furnishing mobile software to obstetric health care providers in Benin, to using cloud-based databases and GIS tracking to aid small farmers in India,” said CARE President Helene Gayle. “By bringing our best ideas together, the innovative partners in U.S. Global Development Lab are sure to make a lasting impact.”
With seven development labs at U.S. universities and 20 missions around the world, the Global Development Lab aims to aid those suffering the most extreme poverty around the globe, 1.2 million people surviving on less than $1.25 a day. The new initiative aspires to help end extreme poverty by 2030.