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Transforming Lives

Afghan farmers cash in seed and fertilizer vouchers as part of a USAID-assisted poppy eradication program.

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.

Muhammad Sarwar, a farmer who benefited from USAID-supported training.

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, with Dari textbooks published by USAID.

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.

Afghan treasury officials met with executives from Financial Management Services in Washington, DC, to discuss cash management.

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.

The newly formed Afghan Midwives Association meets at Kabul's Rabia Balkhi Hospital.

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.

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Last updated: December 30, 2014

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