USAID Administrator speaks at UC Berkeley

Benny Grush/Staff
USAID administrator Rajiv Shah speaks about changes in USAID business at the Blum Center on campus.

The Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development spoke at UC Berkeley Wednesday afternoon about a new collaboration with the campus.

Rajiv Shah addressed an audience of about 300 at Sibley Auditorium and outlined the agency’s new collaboration with universities to reduce poverty, sustain healthier communities and promote worldwide economic development. The event was organized by the Blum Center for Developing Economies, which will work with USAID — a government organization that provides humanitarian and economic foreign aid.

“To solve these challenging problems, we need more science and creative insights like we’ve seen at Blum and Berkeley, which are hotbeds of innovation,” Shah said in an interview.

Before his speech, Shah attended a science fair-style presentation where campus faculty members and students displayed methods to aid development.

An energy- and fuel-efficient stove, presented by Katee Lask, a mechanical engineering researcher, was designed to address public health and environmental issues. According to Shah, because these stoves would make gathering firewood at night unnecessary in unsafe and developing regions worldwide, they could decrease the incidence of rape.

“While this is getting students to think about what the USAID is doing, it is also making the USAID rethink the role of young Americans,” said Ananya Roy, education director of the Blum Center and a campus professor of city and regional planning.

Shah said the agency plans to use organized programs on sustainable development at UC Berkeley as a way to urge other campuses around the country to study solutions to global poverty.

“We want to take the model you’ve created here at Berkeley and expand it to other parts of the country while also encouraging even more work here on this special campus,” Shah said.

Contact Virgie Hoban at [email protected].