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USAID administrator announces financial inclusion commitments in India

India Blooms News Service | | 05 Nov 2014, 10:54 pm
New Delhi, Nov 5 (IBNS): At the completion of a two-day trip to India on November 4-5, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah announced USAID support for three priority areas of partnership as identified in the recent summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Barak Obama in Washington.
USAID will support the Government of India’s efforts to strengthen water and sanitation, expand access to clean energy, and increase access to banking services for Indians. The Administrator announced the efforts after meeting with officials from the Government of India.
“The relationship we have with India—the world’s largest democracy—is among the most lasting, effective, and vital partnerships that America currently enjoys,” said Shah. “Together, we are working to unlock opportunity for India’s most vulnerable people and pioneer solutions that will help end extreme poverty across the globe.”
The Administrator emphasized on India’s leadership in helping to bring clean water and sanitation services to all Indians. Through its U.S. Global Development Lab and other efforts, USAID has made finding solutions to urban sanitation a global priority. 
In support of these initiatives, Shah announced a new financial commitment of up to $20 million to support water and sanitation efforts in India, subject to the availability of funds. 
Shah also announced a new Urban Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Knowledge Partnership with the Indian Ministry of Urban Development. Under the partnership, the United States and India, in cooperation with other key partners such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will share expertise and global best practices, and demonstrate innovative and scalable models in urban water and sanitation. 
The partnership will contribute to India's vision of extending clean water and sanitation services to all Indians through the Swachh Bharat Clean India 
Campaign and other urban development initiatives. Shah also announced USAID support for a new multi-stakeholder coalition that will catalyze a nationwide movement around healthy WASH behaviors. 
The coalition’s first partners include Unilever, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Sesame Workshop India, Coca-Cola India, McCann Health, and the Jindal Steel and Power Foundation.
In recognition of the deepening U.S.-India energy partnership, Shah announced a public-private leverage of up to $41 million in financing to provide energy services to 1 million Indians over three years, subject to the availability of funds. 
In addition, Shah announced the formation of a transactions team that will partner with the public and private sectors to unlock financing for clean energy opportunities in South Asia. 
Acknowledging the immense challenge of securing energy access for 1.25 billion Indians, Shah also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize a partnership between USAID and Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN) resource partners including Germany’s GIZ, the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, and the Netherlands’ ICCO. The partnership helps to bring together leadership within the Government of India with international and national actors.
Shah also underscored the importance of the Jan Dhan Scheme—an initiative led by Prime Minister Modi to provide greatly expanded access to banking services for Indians. 
By way of the Jan Dhan Scheme, the Government of India intends to go beyond just account openings to support a package of financial services that is meaningful for the poor, including direct benefits transfer, credit, insurance, and electronic payments. 
Shah announced an initial commitment of up to $10 million for the Jan-Dhan initiative, subject to the availability of funds, and USAID will continue to explore other opportunities to support the effort in partnership with donors and public and private stakeholders.
In India, Shah also met with members of the Indian private sector on a range of development issues and participated in bilateral meetings with Indian government officials. 
The Administrator also attended several sessions of the World Economic Forum, or WEF, related to food security and financial inclusion, and moderated a panel entitled, "New Pathways to Sustainability," on food and water security in India.
Shah remarked that the USAID Mission in India is a model for public-private partnerships incorporating science, technology and innovation and is uniquely positioned to follow up on the commitments made this week.
USAID’s commitments in New Delhi this week support the broad strategic and global partnership between the United States and India and the new vision for the U.S.-India relationship affirmed by Prime Minister Modi and President Obama during the recent Summit in Washington, "Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go."