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.

With 68 percent of the population below the age of 25, Afghanistan has a large and growing youth population, most of whom have grown up during decades marked by political instability and violent conflict, and face uncertain futures. Access to education has been inconsistent, and often completely absent for rural and remote communities. For girls and young women, education was prohibited altogether during the Taliban years. While change is emerging, with an increased number of schools being established and increased ratios of girls and young women in school, young people are still struggling to find a voice and their place in this emerging democratic nation. 

As a result of war and government instability, judicial training has been sporadic and largely inaccessible to women, with only 26 classes graduating over the 43-year history of the country’s Judicial Stage program. With USAID assistance, in May 2011, 140 students graduated from the Supreme Court’s Judicial Stage program, qualifying them to work as judges in courts throughout Afghanistan. As a whole, the 24 women in this year’s graduating class performed exceptionally well, taking nine of the top ten class positions.

Laleh wakes up early in the morning. The produce vendor jokes that even the roosters are still sleeping when he wheels his produce cart out onto the quiet Kandahari streets to take his daily supply of cucumbers to market.

Uruzgan province in Afghanistan’s south-central region is the birthplace of Mullah Omar and a hotbed of Taliban sympathizers. As a result, it suffers from high insecurity and frequent insurgent activity. Tirin Kot, the provincial capital with a population of about 10,000, has a busy main bazaar that includes more than 200 shops, a hospital, a police station, and a number of private residences. It was widely agreed that public lighting was needed to extend business hours in the bazaar and also help secure the area during the night hours, particularly for security forces patrolling the area after dark.

The carefully irrigated kitchen garden provides welcome splashes of different shades of green against the surrounding dry brown soil and rocks. Shukria, a community health worker in Bamyan Province, takes great pride in the lush vegetables and ripening fruits that have improved her family’s diet.

Hajji Abdul Ghani remembers when the 28 kilometer journey to the end of Robat Road took two hours. The district governor of Spin Boldak is a melon farmer who found it increasingly difficult to get his produce to the markets in Kandahar City and the Afghan-Pakistan border. Seasonal rains and floods left deep craters in the dirt road, rendering it inaccessible to large trucks.

The remote district of Jani Kheyl in Paktika Province is home to approximately 35,000 people belonging mainly to the Molalzai, Jani Kheyl, and Malzai tribes. The Jani Kheyl bazaar, located in the district center, serves more than 500 people per day and includes four mosques, two schools, and approximately 215 shops. It has no connection to an electric grid.

Traditionally, seed producers deliver wheat seed to seed companies from May to July. However, they do not receive payment until February, which constitutes an economic disincentive and prevents seed producers from purchasing the appropriate quantities of inputs for the fall planting season.

Continued war and conflict in Afghanistan has caused a disintegration of services within the state justice sector. To make up for this loss, traditional alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (ADR) have re-emerged across the country. These informal justice systems – usually based on interactions and decisions between village elders at a localized level – are the standard in many areas for delivering justice in Afghanistan.

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Last updated: January 07, 2015