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.

Art may not spring to mind as a beneficiary of improved energy in Afghanistan. However, the availability of 24-hour electricity in Kabul, through USAID, is benefiting the efforts of a young artist.

With sadness in her eyes, 16-year-old Fatima cradles her baby boy. Her son is often ill and has remained small compared to other children.  She doesn’t know how to help him. Fatima’s story is all too common in Afghanistan, where more than 50 percent of children are chronically malnourished. Additionally, malnutrition is responsible for approximately 50 percent of child deaths in the country. 

The establishment of a community development council (CDC) in the village of Rabat in Ghor Province has opened the door to educational opportunities for residents.  After its formation with the support of the National Solidarity Programme (NSP), the CDC, an elected body of male and female community members, evaluated the needs of the community and created a literacy course with experienced male and female instructors.

An estimated 68 percent of the Afghan population is below 25 years of age, and most lack educational and employment opportunities.  Faced with these challenges, many Afghan youth turn to the insurgency as a means of supporting their families. Therefore, providing vocational training and economic opportunities for young men is one of the keys to achieving stability. As part of this effort, USAID is helping young men in Khost Province to learn to repair one of the district’s primary means of transportation: the bicycle.

Twenty-four-year-old Wahida received a good education when she was living as a refugee in Peshawar, Pakistan.  However, when she returned to her village in Afghanistan, she was surprised by new obstacles and few opportunities.  Due to poverty, her brother was forced to quit school and work to support the family.  Wahida wanted to help by becoming a teacher at a nearby high school for girls, but her brother objected.  “I don’t want you to go out of the house,” he said.  “Don’t you know that the girls of this village only perform household chores and nothing else?”

Providing better water delivery service and improved customer care are two key goals of the Jalalabad Water Supply Department (JWSD). However, because the main JWSD office is located outside of the city, it was inconvenient for most customers.  To improve service, JWSD established the first customer care center in the Jalalabad city center with assistance from USAID’s Commercialization of Afghanistan Water and Sanitation Activity (CAWSA) project, implemented by the International City/County Management Association.

Women and disabled community members in northern Afghanistan face a range of cultural and social barriers when seeking employment.  As a result, they are often amongst the poorest members of the community.  In collaboration with government line directorates, USAID’s Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East, and West (IDEA-NEW) has worked to address this problem by training 423 women and men in gabion weaving in the Puli Khumri District of Baghlan Province.  Gabions are key structural components for building protection walls along waterways to prevent flooding and erosion.

With limited job opportunities and high poverty in remote areas of Afghanistan, local people consider joining the insurgency.  Addressing this issue in Behsud District of Nangarhar Province, USAID’s Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives for the North, East, and West (IDEA-NEW) program supported establishing a textile processing facility to generate local level employment and strengthen the textile value chain.

Located in the foothills of central Afghanistan, Jalrez District in Wardak Province is known as the home of the country’s finest athletes.  This reputation inspired the establishment of the Jalrez Youth Association (JYA) in 2008 through USAID support.  The JYA engages young people in organized sports, providing them with a legitimate alternative to joining the insurgency.

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Last updated: January 05, 2015