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.

Farmer Abdul Wahid and 15 fellow vegetable and fruit farmers from the village of Bodikow, Parwan will sleep more soundly tonight with the assurance of a buyer at harvest. On July 18, 2012, these 16 farmers signed a mutually beneficial agreement with Boustan-e-Sabz, a large Afghan agricultural trading company. The contract gives farmers security to succeed in their business and the buyer a promise of high quality produce at the end of the season.

Mr. Ghulam Sarwar is a member of a business family from Herat City in Afghanistan who grew up learning the family trade of buying, drying, packing and exporting dried fruits and nuts.   In 2010 he decided to establish Hariwa Habibzadeh, his own company. Two years later he reached record sales of 40 metric tons of dried fruits and managed to introduce his brand into the Indian market with consumer-ready packages that comply with India’s grades and standards.

“It was very difficult to get to our stores. The dirt road was potholed, uneven and went right up to our doorways,” said Mr. Haji Hamid Rasul, a shopkeeper from Qalat, the capital of Zabul Province. “There was always so much trash and dust, and mud in the winter.” In addition to being a shop owner, Haji Hamid is the local warden on Likak street, the main road in the Qalat bazaar. As a warden, Hamid fields complaints from citizens doing business on Likak and presents these concerns to local authorities.

More than 30 years of deforestation has severely damaged Ghazni agriculture. In the 1970s, most of Afghanistan’s 2.5 million hectares of forest grew in Ghazni and other provinces near the border with Pakistan. Today, nearly 90% of these forests have been lost.

Haji Khan’s predicament is common among the residents of Sra Kala and the villages surrounding Sharana, the capital of Paktika Province. Sharana’s main water source, the Paltu River, runs dry for all but a few months each year. When the river is flowing, Sra Kala residents construct sand berms across the riverbed, diverting a portion of the Paltu’s flow into the Sra Kala canal and nearby fields. While useful, these sand constructions erode quickly, causing sediment build-up in local canals and reducing the amount of water delivered to local farms.

For many children in the 40 new unregistered migrant settlements outside of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, access to school is restricted by poverty and a lack of legal residency. Mamasabyt Raiyimberdy uulu is one of these children. At 13, he was illiterate and had never attended school because he needed to work in the bazaar to make money for his family. To add to the meager wages his mother earned by selling bananas, Mamasabyt needed to earn about $4 per day, which he did by collecting and selling used boxes.

To reach out to kids like Mamasabyt, USAID has started providing small grants to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in these settlement areas. One of the 10 participating NGOs, the Councils for Human Rights, organized a two-month Summer Education Camp for 21 school dropouts from six new settlements around Bishkek. These camps aimed to provide access to a friendly learning environment for children from socially vulnerable families, as well as to create a positive environment for studying, playing sports, helping each other and making friends.

Corrupt practices are strongly entrenched and widespread in Afghanistan, leaving substantial discretionary power to civil servants at all levels, making abuse of power and position commonplace, and reducing government’s legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. There are insufficient controls or enforcement to prevent or deter these corrupt practices that promote inequality and discourage foreign investment.

Municipalities in Afghanistan do not receive funding from Kabul. They finance a hundred percent of their budget from their own revenues.  Improving collections and finding new sources of revenue is critical to long-term sustainability and the delivery of services to residents.  With the assistance of USAID’s RAMP UP West project, the municipalities of Chaghcharan, Farah, Herat and Qaleh Naw analyzed their revenue collection process, identifying bottlenecks and weak points.  They also examined under-reported and uncollected sources.  Based on this analysis, each municipality developed its own, locally appropriate strategy to increase revenues and took action accordingly.

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti disrupted bank, microfinance institution, credit union, and remittance paying agent operations. Access to financial services required even greater travel time and longer waits due to damaged roads and destroyed financial institution buildings. The need for convenient, secure and affordable financial services became more apparent than ever.

In response, USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pioneered the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative (HMMI). HMMI provides incentives to encourage private sector development of mobile money services in Haiti, where only an estimated 15 percent of Haitians have access to financial institutions. At the end of 2010, through mobile phone companies Digicel and Voila, the initiative launched two mobile money services, TchoTcho Mobile and T-Cash. Clients are now able to make payments, send and receive transfers, and keep balances safely and conveniently on their mobile phones.


Last updated: January 20, 2015