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.

Kadiatou Ndao is proud of her sacks brimming with baobab and jujube powder. In just three years, she has marketed enough powder pounded from dusty fruit kernels and berries to quadruple her profits.

Kadiatou is president of a baobab cooperative in Koussanar, a town in central Senegal. She said that before receiving support from a USAID agriculture and natural resources management project, the 28 women of her cooperative lacked the necessary skills, knowledge, and training to run a successful business.

In southeastern Senegal, baobab seeds were once believed to be a useless byproduct of a locally grown fruit. The fruit was eaten and the seeds merely tossed aside.

But now, in the village of Dindéfélo, women are reaping gains from baobab fruit processing for the first time thanks to a USAID program. A facilitator for the Agency first put women in contact with a cosmetics firm who uses the seeds in their products. USAID is now expanding its efforts to assist other Senagalese villages to find markets for this growing commodity, empowering local women in the process.

For two years, Ignace Karangwa was afraid to invest in his land because he was told it had been expropriated by a local bank. The USAID Land Conflict Transformation project, implemented by Search for Common Ground, was informed of the problem and decided to produce a radio program specifically on the issue of expropriation in Gasabo District. The program invited the Gasabo District Land Officer, the Gasabo District Legal Advisor, and the Kigali Expropriation Technician to talk with callers on the radio to inform district residents of their rights in the situation and take calls from citizens.

Few journalists have the luxury of time and funding necessary to conduct in-depth research on the ground for a story. Thanks to a USAID partnership with the Rwandan government, a 25-year-old Rwandan journalist, Eugene Kwibuka, now has that privilege. Kwibuka is a freelance print and radio journalist from Rwanda, a country where media freedom is a sensitive topic. His team of three journalists was recently awarded a U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant that helped them improve their skills to report on issues that are both complex, and important to the public.

Thirty-two-year-old Joy Emmanuel lived with fistula for half of her life. Long after giving up hope of a remedy, she heard on the radio that women could receive fistula surgery at the Faridat Yakubu Fistula Center, in Gusau, Nigeria. The Nigerian National Strategic Framework for fistula prevention and control estimates that between 400,000 and 800,000 women are affected. Nearly half of worldwide fistula cases occur in Nigeria, with between 50,000 to 100,000 new cases each year. USAID is working to address the challenge of obstetric fistula in five states in northwestern Nigeria. During the project’s first three years 2,822 women received fistula repair surgery.

BEFORE: In Mopeia district, water was taken from rivers and unprotected wells, increasing the risk of cholera and other water-borne diseases. More than three-quarters of the community lacked access to latrines or landfills.

AFTER: A capped well with a pump provides clean water to district residents. Rosita no longer walks great distances, and enjoys better health and the many amenities access provides. Community members contribute $0.20 per month for maintenance, and spread messages about improved hygiene and sanitation.

Kadia Bagayogo is a 39 year-old woman who lives in the working class neighborhood of Bamako, in Mali. She was married to Seyba Fane when she was only 14 years old. Since then, Kadia has been pregnant 11 times, with two sets of twins and one miscarriage. The couple rents a room where they live with their surviving nine children. Seyba works as a chauffeur but is currently unemployed. Kadia, in addition to her role as a housewife, sells charcoal to earn extra money. The children are unable to attend school because the family cannot afford it.

Feroce - ferocious in French, and he carries his name well - wears a thin blue shirt and sits in the shade to direct his four workers with wide swipes of his wooden cane. His workers are assembling plows and pumps, welding metal together. He has to speak loudly to cover the rat-rat-tat of his generator, isolated in a clean, cool hut at the edge of his large courtyard, packed with green foot pumps and ploughs. Feroce's workshop is the only house with electricity for miles. Through a USAID-funded program, CARE International installed reliable and hardy foot pumps in villages scattered throughout Amboasary and Ambovombe districts, in Madagascar. As part of the project, experts trained Feroce on how to build, sell and maintain these high-quality pumps. His business has grown so swiftly that he works fulltime for his workshop.

During the 14-year civil conflict in Liberia, the health system virtually collapsed. The health system’s fraglity coupled with the difficulty women face in getting to health facilities in emergencies due to no roads or means of transportation in largely rural Liberia, has led to one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world: 994 deaths per 100,000 live births.


Last updated: August 21, 2013