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.

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.

For decades, Iraqi citizens had no say in government. 

Today that is changing with the election of Iraq’s Council of Representatives and the convening of public hearings where people express their views about proposed laws.

More than 100 people attended a recent Higher Education and Scientific Research Committee hearing to discuss amendments to Iraq’s Private Universities and Colleges Law.  The goal was to solicit public input to bring the law up to to international standards.

Khalil Ismail Elyas, a farmer from Ninewa Province,is growing more than tomatoes and peppers. Thanks to a USAID-supported microfinance loan, the 25-year-old is expanding his business, hiring workers, and increasing revenue.

“The microfinance loan helped me to keeps my farm growing up through provided a motor to pump water for irrigation, fertilizers and pesticides and buy an electrical transformer” Elyas said.

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Last updated: January 02, 2014