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.

In 2005, Deutsche Bank established the Global Commercial Micro‐finance Consortium, known as the “Consortium,” to address this problem. By promoting the flow of capital from international investors and commercial banks in developing countries to micro‐finance institutions, financing for the sector could remain stable even as donor interest fluctuates.

Afghanistan is making strides toward increasing the participation of women in the public sphere, especially in the justice sector.  Recently, one hundred females, all in their final year of studies in the Law and Shari’a faculties at Kabul University, attended a USAID-organized forum designed to encourage female law students to enroll in the upcoming Stage, the Supreme Court’s judicial training program the event.

Abdul Baqi comes from a long line of poppy farmers.  He learned poppy cultivation from his father and passed on the knowledge to his four sons.  It was the crop of choice for farmers in the southern Afghan province of Hilmand because it was easy to grow and profitable to sell.  But poppy farming has a dark side as Baqi discovered when all four of his sons began smoking opium.  They neglected their wives and children, and soon the farm began to suffer.

Progress brings complications.  Every kilometer of road that is built or rehabilitated requires enormous coordination to fund, plan, and maintain.  The old system of road maintenance—one which is fragmented among many ministries—is not able to keep up.  Responsibility for the roads needs to be clear. To fix the problem, two of Afghanistan’s brightest engineers are overseeing the operations and maintenance of more than three thousand kilometers of Afghan highways. 

In the rugged mountainous Anaba District of Panjsher Province, most residents live in mud houses and suffer from lack of access to safe drinking water.  Residents typically collect water from unprotected springs located far from their homes high in the mountains.

Arghandab in Kandahar is a district renowned for its fierce local pride and proud farming tradition.  However in recent years it has become better know as a district of conflict, which has brought with it political instability and poverty.
With support from USAID, elders and local government officials joined to address some long-standing family and community disputes that were negatively affecting the district.

For many ordinary Afghans, making ends meet is a daily struggle.  The challenge of finding work is even more daunting for the physically disabled.  After years of war and continuing violence, an average of one out of every five households in Afghanistan has a family member with a disability.  Meanwhile, the country faces an estimated unemployment rate of 35 percent, meaning that jobs are scarce for the able-bodied and physically challenged alike.

In January 2005, a majority of Afghan civil society organizations lacked the capacity to design quality projects and proposals or professionally liaise with donors.  Take the Afghan Women’s Educational Center for example.  Although it was already in operation for 15 years, it was still managed like a new organization.  There were no clear reporting lines and no long-term strategic planning to guide its activities.  As a result, the center was implementing approximately five projects annually with an operating budget of $500,000.

Shah Mohammed, a wheat farmer in Kapisa Province, owns a seven-acre farm with his five brothers.  Each year they grow two crops of wheat, beans, and vegetables – just enough to feed the 40 members of their extended family.  They come from a long line of traditional farmers who have struggled with ox and plow on this same plot of ground.  “We always farmed in the traditional way of our forefathers,” Mohammed said.  “It was just enough for us to get by, but without a tractor we knew we’d never be able to get ahead.”

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Last updated: January 14, 2015