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.

Capacity building is a powerful tool for change.  USAID is helping Afghans gain the skills to develop their country and pass on their expertise to the next generation of leaders.  Engineer M. Eshaq’s experience shows that knowledge, determination, and vision will rebuild Afghanistan.

Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 1,800 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.  Access to reliable maternity and child healthcare is limited in the more remote parts of Afghanistan’s eastern region due to a lack of infrastructure, education, and professional services.  The presence of a trained birth attendant can prevent many of the deaths.  Together with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and service providers, USAID’s Alternative Development Program – East (ADP-E) has addressed this situation by supporting midwifery training for women from the eastern region’s isolated Nuristan province.

On February 15, 2010, the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) received an urgent request from the World Food Program (WFP) to help the people of Daman District repair their canals, which had recently been damaged by severe flooding. If the canals could not be repaired within three weeks, all of the year’s crops would be lost, risking serious economic instability. USAID’s Food Insecurity Response for Urban Populations (FIRUP) program stepped in to help, quickly mobilizing 6,600 laborers and 15 excavators to clear hundreds of kilometers of critical canals. The rapid response saved Daman District’s crops and the livelihoods of many of its local citizens.

The economy of Afghanistan has always been agriculture-based, with most of the country’s rural areas dependent on livestock rearing, crop cultivation, and orchards.  To improve production and strengthen rural economies, USAID funded a project that provides animal husbandry training and goat and chicken distribution to women in need of assistance. 

As more people in Afghanistan gain access to government-provided electricity, USAID is helping to create an effective and reliable electrical grid to deliver power.  Electricity in Afghanistan is distributed by substations operated by Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, the country’s electricity company.  To regulate the voltage that flows through power lines, the substations need to communicate with each other regarding power flow and unexpected issues.

Many Afghan women and girls are illiterate due to cultural norms and oppressive measures enforced during Taliban rule.  Denied the opportunity to learn marketable skills, these women and their families lack employment opportunities and face poverty.  Today, there is a critical need for vocational training that reaches out to women.

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.

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Last updated: January 26, 2015