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.

Kanybek Imankulov, a father of four, owns 45 hectares of non-irrigable land in Luxembourg village in northern Kyrgyzstan. A farmer since 1995, Imankulov grew mostly field crop -alfalfa, cereals, and corn-but had unimpressive results. Though average crop yields should have been around 4 metric tons per hectare, he only produced around half that. "I would spend weeks searching for available equipment and never managed to plant the crops on time," he said.

Until recently, citizen participation in government decision-making was a rarity in Iraq.  But thanks to a USAID project known as the Local Governance Program – Phase III (LGP III) –  provincial leaders have started to recognize the benefits of dialogue with their constituents.

Ali Hussain Heremish knew the Iraqi buzz about honey.  There was a huge demand for local honey and Iraqis paid a premium for imported honey.

Recognizing the need for improved governance, several members of Iraq’s Council of Representatives (COR) volunteered to take a comprehensive fiscal management course to prepare for the country’s new government, which was approved by Parliament in late 2010. The class, presented by USAID’s Legislative Strenghtening Program, used international standards to teach lawmakeers good governance skills in four crucial areas: oversight, auditing, accounting, and budgeting. Each module used texts and toolkits to present internationally recognized best practices so the concepts could be adapted for Iraq and be put into action.

 The first shipment of Iraqi dates in two decades was flown to London in September 2010 under the auspices of USAID/Iraq’s agribusiness program.  The project promises renewed export prospects for Iraq’s fresh and processed foods. 

Finding that first job always is difficult for young adults.  It’s especially difficult in Iraq where adults face 13 to 30 percent unemployment depending upon the community.  But prospects for youth employment improved in a dozen communities with the introduction of the Iraqi Youth Initiative.  The program teaches business skills to ambitious young adults aged 18 to 35 at USAID-Tijara’s network of 12 Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs).  

Reber Najat Taha was a medical school student well on his way to becoming a physician when he had an epiphany. His life-changing moment occurred during a “How to Start Your Own Business” course at Erbil’s Women’s Empowerment Organization.  “I’d finished merchandise inventory and cost accounting and was midway through a lecture on marketing when I realized I was born to be a businessman not a doctor,” Reber says.  “Instead of selling medical skills, I knew I’d be happier offering people high-quality merchandise at an affordable price.”

The 1,300 gypsies of Al-Zuhoor Village are among the most vulnerable minorities in Iraq’s southern Diwanyah Province.  They have faced discrimination since arriving in the 1920s.  In 2004, their village was razed by the Jaysh al-Mahdi militia, who bulldozed their mud-brick homes and the leveled the school.

For the first time, travellers passing through Baghdad International Airport can pack a taste of Iraq in their carry-ons. The USAID-Inma Agribusiness Program has helped stock the duty-free shop with specialty food products from Iraq’s southern and central provinces.  These include orange blossom, alfalfa, eucalyptus, and jujube honeys, Basrah date snacks with nuts, and Anbar rice, said to be the fragrant grain preferred by former kings.

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Last updated: November 22, 2013