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.

More than 30 years of deforestation has severely damaged Ghazni agriculture. In the 1970s, most of Afghanistan’s 2.5 million hectares of forest grew in Ghazni and other provinces near the border with Pakistan. Today, nearly 90% of these forests have been lost.

Haji Khan’s predicament is common among the residents of Sra Kala and the villages surrounding Sharana, the capital of Paktika Province. Sharana’s main water source, the Paltu River, runs dry for all but a few months each year. When the river is flowing, Sra Kala residents construct sand berms across the riverbed, diverting a portion of the Paltu’s flow into the Sra Kala canal and nearby fields. While useful, these sand constructions erode quickly, causing sediment build-up in local canals and reducing the amount of water delivered to local farms.

For many children in the 40 new unregistered migrant settlements outside of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, access to school is restricted by poverty and a lack of legal residency. Mamasabyt Raiyimberdy uulu is one of these children. At 13, he was illiterate and had never attended school because he needed to work in the bazaar to make money for his family. To add to the meager wages his mother earned by selling bananas, Mamasabyt needed to earn about $4 per day, which he did by collecting and selling used boxes.

To reach out to kids like Mamasabyt, USAID has started providing small grants to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in these settlement areas. One of the 10 participating NGOs, the Councils for Human Rights, organized a two-month Summer Education Camp for 21 school dropouts from six new settlements around Bishkek. These camps aimed to provide access to a friendly learning environment for children from socially vulnerable families, as well as to create a positive environment for studying, playing sports, helping each other and making friends.

Corrupt practices are strongly entrenched and widespread in Afghanistan, leaving substantial discretionary power to civil servants at all levels, making abuse of power and position commonplace, and reducing government’s legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. There are insufficient controls or enforcement to prevent or deter these corrupt practices that promote inequality and discourage foreign investment.

Municipalities in Afghanistan do not receive funding from Kabul. They finance a hundred percent of their budget from their own revenues.  Improving collections and finding new sources of revenue is critical to long-term sustainability and the delivery of services to residents.  With the assistance of USAID’s RAMP UP West project, the municipalities of Chaghcharan, Farah, Herat and Qaleh Naw analyzed their revenue collection process, identifying bottlenecks and weak points.  They also examined under-reported and uncollected sources.  Based on this analysis, each municipality developed its own, locally appropriate strategy to increase revenues and took action accordingly.

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti disrupted bank, microfinance institution, credit union, and remittance paying agent operations. Access to financial services required even greater travel time and longer waits due to damaged roads and destroyed financial institution buildings. The need for convenient, secure and affordable financial services became more apparent than ever.

In response, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pioneered the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI). HMMI provides incentives to encourage private sector development of mobile money services in Haiti, where only an estimated 15 percent of Haitians have access to financial institutions. At the end of 2010, through mobile phone companies Digicel and Voila, the initiative launched two mobile money services, TchoTcho Mobile and T-Cash. Clients are now able to make payments, send and receive transfers, and keep balances safely and conveniently on their mobile phones.

Nestled against the Pakistani border to the east and the highly-kinetic north Barmal region, Shkin’s youth are particularly vulnerable to messaging and recruitment by anti-government actors. USAID’s Afghanistan Stabilization Initiative (ASI) worked on building Shkin’s youth capacity by connecting them  to the Afghan government and community elders. Initially, the youth from various tribes and sub-tribes in the region was invited to a two-day youth jirga also attended by several tribal leaders from Shkin, including the Shkin Shura Chief, the de facto government representative in the area.

Ramavadh is a progressive landowner farmer in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. With limited access to extension services, he depended on resource-intensive traditional agricultural practices that did not substantially increase his yield. In 2009, in order to improve his farm yield and income, Ramavadh joined the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project that is supported by USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank.

In June 2012, these  businesswomen, who variously run fleets of trucks, supply construction material, design software programs and make furniture, went to India to seek new deals, training and technology from Indian companies. The three-day Delhi Investment Summit on Afghanistan drew 124 Indian businesses representatives – more than twice the number expected to attend.


Last updated: January 20, 2015