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.

An army tank is a formidable presence in the quiet village of Loy Karez in southern Afghanistan.  As its engine rumbles to a halt and the dust settles, children flock to the tank from nearby houses, giving the dismounting soldiers the thumbs-up.

A judge questioned why the defendant had accepted a 1,200 rupee fare when 1,000 rupees was the going rate between Jalalabad and Kunar’s capital, Asadabad.  He asked Inamullah how he could not know what was in the boxes.  Inamullah then confessed his guilt before the judges presiding over the Asadabad Primary Court.

Prescribing too many antibiotics, wide discrepancies in treatment practices among doctors, lack of attention to drug interactions, and an unclear picture of what medicines are needed are problems that plague hospitals in Afghanistan.  “We had no treatment guidelines and information about available medicines, so each of us was prescribing in different ways and often prescribing multiple antibiotics at one time.  We never knew whether the medicines we prescribed were actually in the pharmacy and there was also no follow-up of discharged patients,” said Dr. Mohammad Sharif Sailani, a pediatrician at Kabul’s Indira Gandhi Children’s Hospital.

These soaring transmission towers string together 419 kilometers of double circuit wires.  Since February 2009, they have delivered 24-hour electricity to Kabul and neighboring areas.  Thousands of similar towers can be seen along the borders of Tajikistan and Kunduz and from Turkmenistan to the cities of Andkoy and Hirat.

It was the first time she had ever been asked to leave her village for a meeting in nearby Kandahar City.  Her decision to participate wasn’t easy – just a few days earlier, six Afghans had been killed there, one of whom was simply selling bread to the government.  Her district, Arghandab, had recently seen increased insurgent activity that made travel a life-threatening choice.

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


Last updated: January 05, 2015