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.

Afghanistan’s first advanced search-and-rescue team (SART) went into service in Badakhshan recently. The team was trained and equipped under USAID OFDA’s Disaster Risk Reduction project.

One significant gain in governance in Kandahar City over the past few years has been the establishment and strengthening of a corps of wakeels to represent neighborhoods, villages, and communities to the Afghan Government.  As the primary link between the government and the population, wakeels can play a crucial role in improving citizens’ perceptions of the government. However, skills and organizational capacity of wakeels were uneven.

Humira is a graduate of the Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Arts and Architecture in Kabul and she now teaches at its calligraphy and miniature painting school. She says it’s a dream come true. “I joined the school because of my special interest in sustaining our traditional art, which is diminishing because of decades of war. Enrolling helped me learn the art of my passion.”

“We had no water— none. When the rains came, the water would get trapped in the canal sediment or flood the village,” recounts Mohammed Razik, a Qalatee elder. Located on the outskirts of the capital of Ghazni Province, Qalatee is a rural village of over 15,000 inhabitants who rely on agriculture and animal husbandry for sustenance and economic support.

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.


Last updated: April 01, 2015