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.

“We had one of the most popular bazaars in all of Helmand, then the Taliban came,” Naim Mohammed recalls sadly. As he recounts the story of once-bustling Naw Zad bazaar in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, he describes its metamorphosis into a scene of intense fighting. “It was very bad,” he says. Over the course of a year, the bazaar was destroyed. By 2006, more than 700 shops had been leveled and all but a few of the district’s 50,000 residents fled. The bazaar had been the social and commercial heart of the community, but once the bakery, motorcycle repair shop, tailors and fruit-sellers were gone, there seemed little reason for people to stay. It seemed a grim – and final – postscript to the life of a community.

Arbër Ibrahimi and Korab Zhuja have a finger on the pulse of Kosovo’s dynamic media market. In a little over a year, the business partners (and cousins) have established Kosovo’s only comprehensive media-monitoring company. Their firm, PrimeDB, offers a professional service sought by anyone with a need to know what the local Albanian-language media are saying about everyone and everything.

PrimeDB’s 12 employees monitor Kosovo’s main television, radio, print and online news sources 24/7. The firm also digitizes every word, sound and image.

More than 70 of Kosovo’s most promising up-and-coming entrepreneurs gathered at a first-of-its-kind fair held May 16-18, 2013. The Young Entrepreneurs Fair provided a unique opportunity for these businesses, many of them newly established, to showcase their goods and services before clients, investors and the media.

The fair was sponsored by USAID in partnership with Kosovo’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. 

In May 2013, USAID began a project management training program for the Georgian State Electrosystem (GSE), a state-owned, profit-making electric company that serves all of Georgia.

At an introductory seminar, 29 mid-level GSE managers were introduced to basic project management methodologies, discussed differences between process and project management, identified project phases, and produced documents and communications. Tests taken before and after the training show a 28 percent increase in participant knowledge. 

Kyrgyzstan's June 2010 constitutional referendum, which came only weeks after violent political change and interethnic violence, was intended to increase government accountability and transparency, and increase citizen participation in initiating and discussing draft laws with the newly formed parliament. By the following year, however, 77 percent of the population still did not understand how to work with the parliament, according to a 2011 survey by the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society.

In December 2011, government ministries across Kyrgyzstan were directed to develop and report publicly on their plans to address corruption, part of a new government strategy (State Strategy against Corruption and Implementation Plan for 2012-2014) to expose government corruption and increase accountability through regular and open public forums. 

Kyrgyzstan's Adilet Legal Clinic is bringing justice to those who may not otherwise have recourse.

In July 2011, Zorakhan Rozieva, an ethnic Uzbek resident of Kara-Suu rayon in Osh oblast, won a court case against a local energy company that fined her 30,000 Kyrgyzstani Som (approximately $620) for non-payment of electricity. According to her lawyers, provided through local NGO Adilet, the company sent bills to Rozieva while she was out of town. Court hearings revealed that the company had issued bills without reading the meter. 

A glut of wine has provoked a crisis in the heart of Kosovo’s grape-growing region. Here, each fall, vineyard owners leave to rot thousands of tons of unsold cabernet, merlot and other wine grapes. Meanwhile, this impoverished country in southeastern Europe imports 30 percent of the table grapes it consumes.

The mismatch between supply and demand shortchanges Kosovo’s farmers and adds to an already lopsided balance of trade. It also sparks occasional violence during protests organized by frustrated grape growers seeking government aid.

Gul Alam and other job-seekers in the northern Afghan province of Balkh are learning how to cut stone and for Gul, more than anyone else, this professional skill promises to be a lifeline. The 24-year-old has a paralyzed leg and uses a crutch. “I cannot stand for long and I cannot carry loads,” he says, explaining why stone-cutting will mean the difference between abject poverty and moderate financial security.


Last updated: January 20, 2015