Fifty Years of USAID

Posted by Rajiv Shah
March 8, 2011

I remember the first time I ever heard about USAID. I was a young child travelling to Bombay -- now Mumbai -- to see my relatives. Before returning home, my uncle insisted that I travel with him to one of the slums near his family's home.

I was shocked by what I saw. There were pits of open sewage, and children were running through garbage and waste. It was clear that none of those kids went to school. The children were about my own age, but they looked thinner and smaller and more frail than I was. We were the same age and the same race, but the lottery of life guaranteed that we would have very different futures.

As we were leaving the slum, I saw a billboard describing a local water treatment system that the city was putting in place with the support of the U.S. government. Right in the middle of this billboard was a logo depicting a handshake; it was the logo of USAID.

In recent years, we've added a tagline that represents that handshake: from the American people. But in my time now at USAID, I've come to learn that our assistance is not just from the American people. It's also for the American people. Our assistance develops new markets for American goods, keeps our country safe by preventing and scaling back conflict, and expresses our nation's collective values.

For fifty years, USAID's assistance has developed new markets for American goods, kept our country safe preventing violence and scaling back conflict and expressed our nation's collective values in response to crises like last year's Haiti earthquake. I'm proud of this Agency's legacy and eager to bring a renewed spirit of innovation and strategic thinking to our development portfolio.

You can learn more about our Agency's history and our future at:



Joseph M.
Oregon, USA
March 8, 2011

Joseph M. in Oregon writes:

Congratulations, a monumental achievement in orchestrating and providing humanitarian assistance, from the earhquake in Haiti last year, to the thousands of fleeing refugees in Tunisia and Egypt, resulting from the recent uprising in Libya, USAID is setting a great example for the rest of the World to admire.

USAID's mission and ability to provide humanitarian relief, wherever a global crises may arise has been truly noble and in the spirit of what America wants to convey to the international community, that we are willing to devote resources, manpower and funding for disaster and humanitarian relief when called upon.

USAID sends the right message to the entire global community!

Maryland, USA
March 9, 2011

Patrick in Maryland writes:

I think, Raj Shah, has done an exceptional job since he has been with USAID.

Have a Wonderful 50th Anniversary !

See ya, happy thoughts!

K.B. L.
March 9, 2011

KBL in Nepal writes:

Great job, Keep it up continue. Go for action in the filed goes for the community hand to hand it works result will come 100 % , it can be more succeed don’t give money to the government…

Micheal M.
Pennsylvania, USA
March 16, 2011

Michael M. in Pennsylvania writes:

Keep up the great work USAID! USAID does great work that gives those who you are helping, a great impression of the United States of America. Those people then spread the word of our good works around which is a great way for the US to improve our image around the world. USAID does amazing work in the countries they are involved in.

Here is to another 50 years.

P.S. I hope the Congress realizes what very important work that USAID does and does not reduce your funding.


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