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.

Years of neglect and a lack of funds have taken their toll on infrastructure across Afghanistan. Roads across the country are in deplorable condition, especially in the mountainous Ghor Province, where harsh weather and extreme temperatures have left many rural roads impassable during the wet winter months. For much of the year, markets and public services like hospitals in the provincial capital Chaghcharan are closed off to the people who live in the rural areas.

In Charborjak Village, a dirt road laces its way through a riverbed and into a neighboring village before arriving at an array of shops and trading stalls near the district governor’s office. During the fall and winter months, farming families using this road enjoy an easy walk from Charborjak Village to the main market in Guzara District.

To improve access to quality education services in Afghanistan, a USAID project has disseminated educational materials to rural communities to improve literacy and promote a culture of reading in Afghanistan. Through the project, about 200 libraries have been established and more than 100,000 books distributed around the country. Each library is initially provided with 500 books that are approved by the Ministry of Education and available in both Dari and Pashto. Positive results are evident throughout Afghanistan.

Today, lush, green farmland stretches as far as the eye can see on either side of Nawa’s Khalach Canal. Until recently, however, much of the rich soil in this Hilmand district suffered from poor irrigation and neglect. Splotches of dried brown earth replaced vibrant green crops in many areas, as the water flow from local canals was staunched by accumulated silt, overgrown reeds, and years of inadequate maintenance.

The Al Buroni University in Kapisa Province, named after the famous medieval Islamic scholar from the region, serves more than 2,000 students and offers programs in engineering, medicine, law, and literature. The university also has a strong agricultural program, which provides practical education and experience for its students. Demonstration plots are used for crop research and the cultivation of new varieties of forestry, fruit, and nut trees. The agricultural program also maintains vineyards and raises vegetable and cereal crops, some of which provide additional income for the university and food for its students.

During the Taliban’s rule, most schools across the country were closed or abandoned. Education for girls was illegal. Schools were often attacked and the whole concept of secular education was abandoned. Although schools are now opening across the country, with many offering education to girls, most schools are in deplorable condition, being neither suitable nor safe for children. In Farah City, many local school buildings were disintegrating in the heat and desert air. For local government officials, there was little or no money to apply to school renovations.

Community Development Council members meet regularly with local government representatives in the community center, which has played a significant role in bridging the gap between the community and the local government.

Every morning, Haji Abdulrahim sets up his hand-operated juicer machine at his usual spot on a street corner in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Hilmand Province. With a broad smile on his bearded face, he sells fresh juice to shopkeepers and buyers in the neighborhood. Today, sitting next to his plastic chair and fruit rack is a big blue garbage bin – a gift from the municipality that he says brings him good luck.

Raw honey production is common in Afghanistan’s eastern region because weather in the region soothes honeybees and beekeeping. In addition, beekeeping does not require high-tech equipment or skills and is easy to do using traditional methods. However, most of the raw honey produced in Afghanistan is exported to Pakistan due to non-existence of processing and packaging firms in the region. The honey is processed, labeled as made in Pakistan, and re-exported at a higher cost to Afghanistan.


Last updated: May 01, 2015