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.

In December 2010, for the first time in the history of the Afghan women’s civil society movement, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and twenty Afghan civil society organizations joined together to establish the Afghan Women’s Advocacy Coalition, a nation-wide coalition of more than twenty women-focused Afghan civil society organizations and individuals.

Women queue in a long winding line at a health center in a remote part of Kabul Province every day.  Many have their children with them.  Few women in the community can read the alphabet and are completely dependent on others to read for them.  Few women hold jobs outside of the home.  Through word of mouth, women hear about a free literacy center nearby.

The districts of Chahar Chineh and Dehrawud, located in Uruzgan Province, are two of the most unstable areas in Afghanistan.  The lack of roads left these districts cut off from the rest of the province and without access to government services.  As a result, these districts became prime breeding ground for the insurgency.  With local farmers and business owners unable to get their produce to regional markets, local men joined the insurgency to make a living.

Overlooking the breathtaking Buddhas of Bamyan Province in central Afghanistan, ten young women stand in a semi-circle around a camera and tripod, holding microphones and a light reflecting screen.  With poise and charisma, they practice directing while they take turns interviewing each other, not only about their community, but also about why this program is so important for them.  These women have never practiced with a real camera, yet they catch-on immediately and feel the thrill of directing and reporting.

In August 2008, USAID started to build a road connecting the communities of Wazir and Khadakhel in eastern Afghanistan.  After the construction began, USAID reached out to community members to design and implement a development project that would provide a sustainable source of income.  The community requested a soap factory.

Mohammad Nabi, the owner of Sadaqat Wool Spinning Co., has almost tripled the number of women he employs to spin wool yarn in the past year.  His company’s rapid expansion stems from the introduction of foot-treadle spinning wheels – simple devices that date back seven centuries and are still proving their value today.

This new 2.6 kilometer road, built by a team of more than 100 local laborers, was a community initiative led by village elders with funding and training from the USAID Strategic Provincial Roads in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan project.

Judges throughout Afghanistan, especially those in the outlying provinces, have historically received little support to enhance their knowledge of legal developments.  Their only option was often to base their decisions on superseded and irrelevant laws, or on customary and traditional laws.  Partly because the judges lacked education and training, Afghans in those districts and provinces came to rely heavily on the informal sector – shuras and jirgas – to resolve disputes.

Although 68 percent of Afghanistan’s population is under the age of 25, the youth in areas such as Shindand District of Hirat Province face a particularity volatile environment because local tribes act hostile toward central government authorities.  This has created a situation where youth face a severe lack of employment opportunities and do not feel able to engage the government to help address issues important to them.


Last updated: January 06, 2015