Transforming Lives

Every day, all over the world, USAID brings peace to those who endure violence, health to those who struggle with sickness, and prosperity to those who live in poverty. It is these individuals — these uncounted thousands of lives — that are the true measure of USAID’s successes and the true face of USAID's programs.

Sara, 16, from the village of Mirza Abdul Qader near Kabul, is a recent graduate of APEP's Accelerated Learning courses.  She, along with other girls and young women, make up 56% of the program's graduates.  According to Sara, "Under the Taliban we were unable to obtain an education.  Now we are able to enroll in school and read simple things like street signs and write as well."

USAID’s Alternative Livelihoods Program for the Eastern Region (ALP/E) is supporting the development of agricultural value chains, as a way to allow small, medium and large-scale farmers to engage in the production and marketing of licit crops in a sustainable and profitable fashion.

Bitter feelings about going against law and the Qur’an aside, Shah Jan and her husband used to grow poppy so they could send to school their seven children.  This winter, however, the farmer’s family will not be planting poppy.  For several months now, Shah Jan has been working at developing a modest yet consistent and honest alternative; income earned from a commercial plug seedling nursery in Batikot district of Nangarhar province. 

Supported by the USAID-funded Alternative Livelihoods Program for the Eastern Region (ALP/E), Hadyatullah-Samsour Bam Ltd., a privately-owned Afghan trading company, and a group of progressive farmers from Kunar, Laghman and Nangarhar provinces supplied a variety of fruit and vegetables to test the demanding market in the United Arab Emirates.  Under the brand name “Pride of the Eastern Region,” the trial shipment from Afghanistan was sold through a supermarket chain and 16 hotels in Dubai and generated a first commercial order for 60 tons of produce.

From a hill overlooking Khost city, democracy is spreading across the region.  Peace Message Radio, established with support from USAID’s Democracy and Governance office, is an independent radio station that attracts over 80% of radio listeners in the province of Khost.  In the two years since its founding, it has given a voice to women, reached out to the local madrassas, provided comprehensive coverage of the parliamentary elections, and has granted opportunities for high school and college students to learn about journalism hands-on.

Years of fighting and drought nearly destroyed the art of silk production once common in the villages of Sari Pul in Northern Afghanistan. The supply of silkworm eggs, once supplied by the Department of Agriculture, came to a sudden halt. In addition, the introduction of factory-made synthetic materials replaced the demand for silk products.  Many households left Sari Pul for security reasons taking with them the knowledge of traditional silk crafts.

Challenge Most farmers in Afghanistan make little or no income during the winter months.  Furthermore, the high start-up costs for cold storage to boost farmer income is not feasible for the average small and medium-scale farmer in Afghanistan.  In Herat province, the approximately 1.5 million inhabitants must consume imported fresh fruit and vegetables from Iran or Pakistan at high prices during the winter

Travel over the old 64 km Ghazni to Sharan Road previously was slow, dangerous and unreliable. The new road now serves as an economic corridor for better access between the key cities of Ghazni in Ghazni Province and Sharan in Paktika Province. It facilitates expedient transportation of farm products to market, enhances economic development, and promotes social interaction along the road route.

The completion of the first airstrip in Zabul Province will provide a gateway to further development, economic growth, and communication links for the province. The first flight on the new airstrip from Qalat to Kabul was “PRT Air”, an air charter serving a broad range of organizations working on development issues in Afghanistan.  PRT Air will continue to have scheduled flights twice a week.