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.

When university student Mohammad Ashraf tunes in to the TV program Shahr-o-Shahrwand, it is no ordinary show he is watching. The weekly program is about Herat municipality and it discusses some of the services available to the community. He watches to see if  authorities will fund some of the projects and services Distric 9 residents want and need. The program is a follow-up to a new series of community ‘needs identification’ meetings,  conducted by Herat municipality with assistance from USAID’s RAMP UP West project

When Erline in Madagascar became pregnant with her first child, her family preferred that she give birth at home because it was less expensive than visiting a health center. After all, a traditional birth attendant typically charges $5—about an average week’s pay—while a birth at a facility would require transport, food and medicine costs, and cost three to four times that amount. However, a visit from a USAID-trained community health worker helped Erline and her family understand the risks of giving birth outside a health facility. And ultimately, when they considered the health of Erline and her baby, they chose the safer option.

Agricultural producers in Senegal are finding that small improvements in their farming techniques can yield big benefits when it comes to protecting their livelihoods against risk during growing season. Conservation farming, which has been promoted in Senegal by USAID since 2009, is based on the premise of “doing more with less.” Farmers till and plant only a portion of their land each season, growing crops in small, evenly-spaced basins rather than plowing entire fields. Not only does most of the land remain undisturbed, but this technique reduces soil erosion and run-off during rainfall, helping the land to retain both water and nutrients.

To Mohammad Gul the phrase ‘breath of fresh air’ means exactly that – the chance to breathe lungfuls of clean air. Until recently, Mr Gul and other residents of Kandahar city could not have imagined the improvement in the air they breathe. The streets were so littered with trash, says Mr. Gul, that “…sometimes I could not breathe.” Kandahar’s problems were rooted in the local authorities’ lack of means - or expertise – to reliably collect waste from residential streets and community bins. 

 

Since 2001, Senegal has offered free antiretroviral (ARV) therapy to HIV-positive patients. Yet many patients interrupt or stop treatment due to the cost of treating related infections and the frequency of check-ups needed to monitor their progress.

USAID has launched an innovative pilot project to encourage HIV-positive patients to continue ARV treatment. The project not only increases access to health insurance and care, but also promotes financial sustainability by offering business loans to vulnerable individuals. This is achieved through a locally-managed fund that serves as a guarantee for the loans and compensates the insurance groups for extraordinary costs associated with HIV care.

Six municipal authorities in southern Afghanistan have made history of a sort by submitting their budgets in time and preparing them in a realistic and accurate manner. The result: The financial plans put forward by Tirin Kot, Kandahar, Zaranj, Nili, Qalat and Lashkar Gah received the provincial governor’s approval in record time and all six municipalities are well on their way to balanced budgets that better meet local needs. 

Orchards throughout southern Afghanistan are bouncing back thanks to a USAID project which is distributing more than one million fruit tree saplings to farmers in Kandahar and Helmand Provinces. The project also provides short-term jobs to nearly 4,000 laborers who are planting the saplings and rehabilitating damaged orchards.

Shama is a business major at a private higher education college  in Nangarhar province. Till recently, she found it difficult to conduct the research she needed in order to complete her assignments. She had limited access to the public library and if she got there, there was never any guarantee she would get to surf the Net.

Sweeta and Saher might stand out anywhere in the world but in Afghanistan, they are decidedly unusual. They are studying engineering at Kabul University, both are currently working as interns with USAID support and both passionately want to build careers in structural design. The two young women are undeterred by the gender gap in Afghanistan and believe that nation-building is woman’s work too.

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Last updated: January 20, 2015