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.

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.

Midwife Shaiesta has delivered dozens of babies in Afghanistan, educated numerous Afghan mothers on the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and safe birth spacing, and given countless other women the information they need to raise healthy families. What she had never done before was leave her home and family to further her professional development and career. She got that opportunity when she and 30 other midwives from 19 provinces across Afghanistan traveled to Egypt for a safe motherhood training program at the Regional Centre for Women's Health and Development in Alexandria, Egypt,

Fadhil Ahmad tucked a pair of glasses into his pocket when he saw six men blocking the road that led to his house. Sitting by the side of a local graveyard, they watched him approach and then ambled across the road, blocking Fadhil’s way, while holding their weapons at ready. Fadhil knew that they were not going to let him pass.

A USAID project helps thousands of vulnerable Afghan women and families who have suffered loss resulting from international military operations against the Taliban and other insurgents. The focus is on relatively small-scale assistance that helps beneficiaries rebuild their lives and earn a living. The project also assists widows, a sector of society that is particularly vulnerable, as they were financially dependent on their husbands.

For decades, the farmers that derive their livelihood from the karez systems in Daman District have watched as the ability to irrigate their crops slowly degraded. Sections of karez tunnels and bore holes were clogged with soil deposited during the rainy season by frequent flooding. Consequently, less water reached the farms and agricultural output plummeted. As a result, many farmers were forced to leave their land because they couldn’t support their families.

The completed project allows trucks access to local farms. Next summer, farmers will no longer lose the majority of their crops while walking their harvests along the five mile route to the main road.

When summer arrives in Ordokhan, a village in Injil District near Hirat’s capital city, farmers begin harvesting wheat and tomatoes, pack the farm yields into bags, and then walk these bags to a main road. This walk, which can cover as much as five miles for some farmers, presents a severe burden. “We harvest close to eight tons of tomatoes per acre. Even if you collect only one half ton or one quarter ton of tomatoes per day, it is difficult to carry this amount by hand. 

Thousands of refugees were driven from the Dar-e-Noor District in northern Nangahar Province to Pakistan by war and instability during the last 30 years. Despite security improvements, many have chosen to remain in Pakistan rather than face the poverty that has consumed their home villages.

Shagai Village, located in a remote district of Paktya Province, has had few development efforts because of the rampant insecurity in the province. Typically, women only leave their homes to gather during weddings and funerals. Social and economic development activities for women are alien in Shagai. Poverty cuts to the bone.

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Last updated: January 20, 2015