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.

The Jalalabad-based Food Production Company is a successful business with steady growth since 2009, when it was established. In 2011, the company began receiving more orders for its fruit jams, juices, ketchup and chili sauce than they could produce. Owner Mohammad Ashraf knew it was time to expand and add more retailers in Jalalabad, Kabul and other key cities on Afghanistan, but he didn’t have enough capital to finance the expansion.

“We are ready for the future! Maw tars nadaraim (We are not afraid)” declared Sima Tabib, head of Aziz National Furniture and one of Afghanistan’s most respected business leaders.

As she stood in line with 29 other women, Lima Khurram finally felt she was ready and able to serve her country. Lima, a 24-year-old mathematics graduate from Kabul University, had just completed a USAID-sponsored, four-month Women in Government internship.

That is changing. Working closely with Shahjoy community leaders and the municipality of Qalat, capital of Zabul, the USAID-funded Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations – South (RAMP UP) launched a pilot project to transform the city. The pilot project was meant to engage Shahjoy’s 56,000 residents in the business licensing process. This includes paying a business license tax. Ever since, the bazaar - one of the largest in the region - has been cleaned up and more than 530 businesses licensed.

Several factors heighten food insecurity in Bangladesh, among them natural disasters, poor health and hygiene services, and chronic deprivation of the socially vulnerable.  According to government figures, around 40 percent of the population is food insecure, meaning that 65 million people consume less than the minimum daily recommended amount of food.

Shahida, who does not use a last name, has always been strong and optimistic, even when times have been tough; and times have often been tough. Forced to become the second wife of a much older man at the age of 14, Shahida soon became the mother of three children. Ten years ago, her husband left her and her children, never sending money to support them. Then, in 2007, Cyclone Sidr destroyed all of her household belongings, after which she resorted to begging to buy food for her family.

Haitian mango farmers like Gardien Saintvil receive the best price for their fruit by selling it when ripe. But Saintvil has a powerful incentive to harvest too early and sacrifice much of the value of his mangoes.

“I often had to choose between selling my mangoes before they are ripe, or selling a goat when the price is low,” said Saintvil, who lives near the city of Hinche in central Haiti. “I’ve always appreciated the value of mango trees, so I try not to sell my mangoes early, but sometimes I had no choice.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently facing a complex food security situation, exacerbated by a rapidly deteriorating economy, a decline of overall agricultural production, plant diseases and years of armed conflict, which have limited the availability of staple crops such as cassava, maize and plantain. Childhood stunting and growth faltering is highly prevalent. High rates of childhood stunting are common across most regions of the DRC, but particularly high in rural regions. 

Almost half of all the children in Madagascar under age 5 are stunted due to poor nutrition. Inadequate nutrition in the first few years of a child’s life will have negative, long term physical and mental consequences. A Catholic Relief Services (CRS) development food assistance program funded by USAID aims to combat malnutrition in 592 different villages in Madagascar.


Last updated: January 20, 2015