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.

Walk far enough along a village canal system in eastern Afghanistan and you will find yourself in the mountains. Open canal paths and friable soil give way to tight corridors framed by towering granite mountains. These corridors become choke points when snowmelt creates floods, driving rock down from mountain ridges toward local intakes and canals.

Deh Sabz Village is located in Adraskan District, 95 km west of Hirat Province. Due to a lack of resources in the Afghan government, many of the community’s grievances remained unaddressed, creating a gap between the government and the local communities.

After a strict ban on poppy cultivation was imposed, farmers in the Spinghar District of Nangarhar Province in eastern Afghanistan started growing lawful crops instead of poppy. Their livelihoods now rely on staple crops and naturally grown pine nuts and walnuts harvested in the district’s uplands. Though the crops were cultivated successfully, transport to local markets was critical to completing the value-chain and supporting livelihoods.

Developing new markets for Afghanistan’s fresh fruit is critical for the development of the Afghanistan agricultural sector – both to increase job opportunities in Afghanistan and as a platform for future agricultural growth. Five Afghan companies attended the India Fresh Fruit Trade Office opening looking for ways to expand their export sales. They are especially interested in taking advantage of the huge and profitable India fresh fruit market. Afghan farmers receive a high price for their products in India because their production is at a different time of the year and is considered of the highest quality.

More than 1,500 women members of the Afghan Women’s Business Council were trained on good agricultural practices, proper harvesting, sorting, packing, and marketing, including food processing at Badam Bagh farm in Kabul, a USAID-supported facility owned by the Ministry of Agriculture. Used as a place to train people interested in agriculture, the farm demonstrates modern agricultural methods like grape trellising, drip irrigation and greenhouses. The farm also researches new varieties of fruit and vegetables for Afghanistan and features fields of grapes, sweet corn, spinach, cabbage, strawberries, and tomatoes.

Twenty-five years ago, Abdul Hakimi lost his home on the outskirts of Ghazni City to floods. He lost his replacement home to a new round of floods six years ago. He lost his second replacement home when floodwaters again surged over the banks of the Shamas River in the spring of 2011. Each time, it took him four years to rebuild his house at a cost of $10,000 to $20,000 apiece. The risks that Abdul Hakimi faces are not unusual. Seven hundred families living in the Sayanee area north of Ghazni City face the same risks and 200 hectares of attached farmland are subject to the same flooding.

Masons work with unskilled laborers to reconstruct six kilometers of footpaths in Nili, the capital of remote Daykundi Province. Engineered to last for decades, these concrete, brick, and stone footpaths will provide permanent relief for pedestrians who typically commute through knee-deep mud during the harsh winters. Burdened by the absence of paved roads and sidewalks, Daykundi essentially shuts down each winter after the arrival of heavy rains and snowfall. The footpaths in and around the capital are part of a broader plan to ease transportation within the province and beyond. In addition to the footpaths,

Community meetings are an effective tool for identifying community grievances and creating communication and cooperation between unstable communities and Afghan government officials. USAID creates linkages between local governments and communities through the planning and implementation of small grants less than $25,000. The communities select and implement the projects in coordination with Afghan government representatives. After linkages between the communities and the local government are created, communities are encouraged to collaborate with their local government to ensure and maintain stability.

Traditionally, village women in Afghanistan have taken a limited role in the justice system, acting as an invisible hand behind male elders in the decision making process. However, women are now stepping into the mediation forefront as the result of elders networks established by USAID.

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Last updated: January 07, 2015