(Washington Post) Rajiv Shah, the new administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is looking toward making major changes in operations. “This agency is no longer satisfied with writing big checks to big contractors and calling it development,” he boldly asserted in a speech last week. Dr. Shah wants to emphasize local construction as opposed to shipping standardized housing from the United States; using work done in Haiti as an example. Instead of sending over prefab housing, Mr. Shah said that contractors who develop contruction with Haitians use rubble from the earthquake–so it’s sustainable–and also build houses that can better weather earthquakes. Though the process is slower at this point, it is, Dr. Shah believes, a better long-term system. With looming budget cuts–the new Chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) affirmed plans to implement foreign aid budget cuts a month ago–might put some of Dr. Shah’s reforms on hold.
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