Four years ago, the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) offered a sweeping assessment of how the U.S. State Department and USAID could become more efficient, accountable, and effective in a changing world.
The QDDR provided the strategic foundation to answer President Obama’s call to transform USAID into a modern development enterprise. With its guidance, we implemented a suite of ambitious reforms that have changed the way USAID does business.
Since 2010, our regional bureaus have reduced program areas by more than a third -- focusing our work where we have the greatest impact. We hired more than 1,100 new staff. Today, all our major programs are independently evaluated, and those evaluations are available right now on an iPhone app -- an unprecedented level of transparency.
Last month, we launched the U.S. Global Development Lab, which first began as a recommendation of the 2010 QDDR. A historic investment in science and technology, it will generate, test, and scale breakthrough solutions to complex development challenges, while also attracting private sector investment to improve the sustainability of our efforts.
Just four years since the first QDDR, these reforms have been the underpinning of a new model of development that harnesses the power of business and science to bend the curve of progress. But while the first QDDR laid a strong foundation, we know a lot of work remains to advance this progress and answer President Obama’s call -- made now in two State of the Union addresses -- to join the world in ending extreme poverty over the next two decades.
This goal is ambitious, but it is also within reach: in the last two decades alone, human ingenuity and entrepreneurship have reduced child mortality rates by 47 percent, and poverty rates by 52 percent. The new QDDR will enable us to take advantage of this unique moment in history -- one where new tools, technologies, and partnerships are redefining what’s possible.
Already, we’ve seen the extraordinary results that this approach can bring. Through President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative, we have improved nutrition for 12 million children across 19 countries, as well as helped 7 million farmers grow their yields, raise their income, and begin the journey out of extreme poverty.
At the same time, we’ve rallied the world behind a new approach to child survival that is helping more children survive and thrive. In Afghanistan -- where our entire development budget over the last decade is less than 3 percent of the total spent on our efforts -- we’ve seen the largest decreases in maternal and child death on the planet.
Just as the first QDDR helped set a new strategic vision for our agency, the 2014 QDDR will help us deliver on it with greater focus than ever before. It will continue to drive a smarter, more effective approach to development and diplomacy -- one that will pay dividends for our country’s security and prosperity for decades to come.
About the Author: Dr. Raj Shah is the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development.