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.

Afghanistan’s beautiful plains and fertile valleys have hosted many kinds of crops — but one crop has repeatedly caused the country and its people immeasurable harm: poppy. Farmers dependent upon their land often turned to poppy cultivation because it brought more revenue than ordinary crops. But opium revenue also brings instability and threatens the country’s security.

Eastern Afghanistan was once legendary for its production of quality fruits and vegetables. However, nearly three decades of conflict and several years of drought have had a negative impact on farming. As a result, local knowledge about farming methods and links to the region’s major markets declined. USAID responded with an effort to revitalize the agricultural sector by providing intensive training to farmers and building links between farmers and regional produce markets.

Ali and Hussain Saberi arrived in England in August 2005 and started at John Bunyan Upper School in September. When Trish Wrightson, an English teacher at the school, first met them, they both spoke very little English. Through a translator, Wrightson learned that neither boy had any formal education. She realized that they needed to learn not just English, but other subjects like math and science as well. And, they needed to learn quickly — at age 16, Ali was in his last year of high school.

In 2003, the Afghan Ministry of Finance created the Offices of Cash and Debt Management (OCD) in an effort to improve its ability to manage donor assistance and administer taxes. Like most Afghan government agencies, the OCD is staffed with young university graduates who have general backgrounds in economics, statistics or information technology, but limited practical experience.

Afghanistan's maternal and child mortality rate is among the highest in the world, but the Taliban would not allow the training of new nurse-midwives. When the regime was ousted, only 537 skilled, trained nurse-midwives — kabilaha — remained in the country. USAID is working to triple that number and, at the same time, establish trained midwifery as a profession worthy of support and respect.

USAID provides Afghan women with the means to earn a living through 86 bakeries managed by widows that help feed the elderly, disabled,orphans and other destitute families bakeries. Employing 897 poor women, this program reached more than 176,000 Kabul residents in 2003 with a daily ration of fortified bread at a subsidized price.

The boulani - a potato-filled pastry - is neither warm nor fresh, but the child can’t resist the treat. Flicking flies away, the vendor hands one to the little girl. Later, the child’s mother cautions her against eating food left uncovered for too long. A pregnant mother waits at home while her husband takes their son to be immunized. At the clinic, he learns immunization can protect his wife--and through her, the new baby.

In Afghanistan, approximately 42% of deaths during childhood result from treatable and often preventable illnesses including respiratory infections and diarrhea. Working with the Afghan Ministry of Health to prevent these unnecessary deaths, USAID provided nearly fifty-four metric tons of pharmaceuticals (119,016 lbs.) for use by nineteen nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in fourteen rural Afghan provinces.

Major irrigation rehabilitation projects in Baghlan and Kunduz, Afghanistan have contributed to communities that are excited about their prospects for the future. USAID rehabilitated three major rural irrigation systems and returned more than 300,000 hectares of cultivated land to full irrigated production. This included de-silting and widening irrigation canals, repairing and replacing water intakes, canal banks, protection walls, turnouts, and sluice gates. In general, the completed projects are providing a reliable source of water for irrigation which has the potential to double the regions’ crop yields.