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 September, the USAID funded Rule of Law Stabilization – Informal Component project (RLS-I) invited wives of jirgamaran (elders) and influential Behsud and Surkh Rod district leaders to participate in their first forum to strengthen community-based dispute resolution. The meeting is one RLS-I activity that aims to build stability and citizens’ capacity to strengthen the rule of law in Afghanistan. Men sit on most jirgas in Nangarhar Province. However, elder’s wives often facilitate bringing disputes involving women before jirgas.

The Arghandab Valley was once known as the orchard of Central Asia, exporting pomegranates, apricots, and plums around the world.  But three decades of war left many of its orchards and vineyards in ruins, crippling fruit exports and creating widespread unemployment in the region.

Bakwa District, one of Afghanistan’s most insecure areas, has seen little development aid since 2002.  The district has become a passageway for insurgents pushing into southern Afghanistan and has been identified as an area in need of stability initiatives.  In the late spring of 2010, USAID’s Local Governance and Community Development (LGCD) project facilitated a shura between the District Governor, the District Development Assembly, and community members to identify priority projects throughout Bakwa.  Community leaders identified the lack of access to healthcare, education, markets, and employment opportunities as their most pressing concerns.

The shoes were the first indication.  Tan lace-up boots, black rubber sandals, backless slippers, and penny loafers lined the blue canvas tarmac where almost 300 assembled.  The people were gathered to address the violence that threatens a 164-kilometer road that USAID funds

At the Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), women were not moving up in the ranks, mostly due to a lack of human capacity building opportunities.  USAID created and funded the Afghan Energy Capacity Building Project (AECB), which has empowered more than 100 MEW women employees, giving them the capacity to thrive in what was once an entirely male-dominated ministry.  The MEW’s Vocational Training Center’s Instructors and female students have also  benefitted from the AECB training.

Over the course of many years, thousands of prospective teachers, predominantly women, have been trained at the Nangarhar Teacher Training Institute, elevating the educational and social status of women and improving the quality of education throughout Afghanistan.  However, over time, the Institute’s building fell into disrepair.  At the same time, another serious issue plagued Nangarhar: the province is home to many unemployed widows and destitute women who have no option other than begging to support their families.  USAID acted to address these two issues simultaneously by hiring local widows to repair and rehabilitate the Institute’s buildings.

Families in rural Afghanistan face significant challenges securing steady jobs and steady income.  The primary industry in Eastern Afghanistan is agriculture, with only seasonal and temporary job opportunities for most men.  Decades of war and conflict have compounded the situation.  As a result, women have had to find ways to supplement their husbands’ incomes despite their limited opportunities to learn new vocational skills and the cultural obstacles women face in the workforce.

Built by USAID’s Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program, the new 105-megawatt Tarakhil Power Plant has trained workers at every skill level, helping to ensure sustainable operations of the plant that provide a reliable source of electricity to the region.

Before Abdul Wahab signed up for a USAID-funded AVIPA Plus training course in animal husbandry, the farmer, who has no formal education, took his knowledge of the subject from family tradition and neighbors’ advice.

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Last updated: January 05, 2015