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.

Challenge

The Shoubra El Kheima area north of Cairo is severely polluted due to decades of hazardous emissions from metal smelters and foundries, including lead, arsenic, and mercury. Before USAID’s involvement, these industries produced more than 30 times the international limits, threatening the health of the local population. Yet surveys showed that most residents were unaware of the dangers, especially from lead, a powerful neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children.

USAID supports the Government of Egypt's neonatal and safe motherhood programs by establishing essential obstetric care and neonatal services in public hospitals in nine Upper Egypt governorates. The Healthy Mother/Healthy Child project involves upgrading delivery and operating rooms, as well as neonatal units of general and district hospitals, where women are admitted with life threatening emergencies related to childbirth. These activities have saved the lives of thousands of Egyptian women and babies.

El Shahid Ahmed Shaalan Primary School, in the heavily industrialized area of East Shoubra El-Kheima, has approximately 750 pupils between ages 5 and 12. USAID assisted the government of Egypt in closing down polluting industries that caused serious health hazards in the neighborhood. A related, second USAID-funded project identified the school as a polluted site that posed serious health hazards due to the presence of lead and other heavy metals from the nearby closed industries.

Before receiving support from a USAID project, employees in the Alexandria and Mansoura Courts of First Instance’s typing pool would receive from the judges handwritten decisions, which they would type on manual typewriters and have reviewed by the judges prior to signing. This laborious process slowed the adjudication of cases because errors meant documents required a complete retyping on antiquated equipment.

Farming families in the Mantaro valley of Peru’s central Junin region have been cultivating crops like potatoes and grains for centuries. So, when USAID suggested that some switch to a new crop, the farmers were curious to learn more. The idea was to grow artichokes that would be canned and sold for export. The artichokes would fetch a higher price than crops traditionally grown in the region. Moreover, USAID was assisting a Peruvian-Spanish company, AgroMantaro, establish a new facility to process and export locally produced artichokes.

Agriculture is the way of life for many Andean communities, and the mountainous region of Ayacucho is no exception. Farmers there cultivate lands that depend mostly on rainfall for water. Yet in recent years, droughts have been occurring more frequently in the region, creating a demand for irrigation water. Moreover, since the farmers depend on rainfall, this usually limits them to cultivating just one crop each year, making it impossible for farmers to meet local demand for grains and produce.

USAID helped Aicacolor install the first bixin factory in Peru – one of the only five in the world. Aicacolor is a Peruvian enterprise dedicated to the production and commercialization of natural colors for the food industry with a focus on dairy products. Bixine and norbixine, natural colorants extracted from the annatto tree, are used to give color to processed products such as oil, cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, and yogurt.

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Last updated: August 19, 2013