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.

“I want to become a doctor,” says Macrina Marie Sambola Pondler with a bright smile. The 17-year old is the second of four children of an unemployed couple living in the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS) in Nicaragua. There was a time when Macrina’s dream would have been impossible. At age 15, finishing sixth grade and facing reading and integration difficulties, Macrina’s mother was thinking of taking her out of school and helping her find a job so as to provide needed support for the family.

One April night, 19-year-old Ilionelle* was struggling to give birth at her home in rural northwest Haiti. After several hours, she began having seizures, a clear indication of pre-eclampsia, a severe medical disorder that can lead to the death of the mother and the baby.

“I started class because I wanted to learn to read the signboards for doctors and shops”, confesses Homira. But when she finishes the course, she will be able to do much more than that. The course is designed to enable women to read newspapers, community notices and understand the information disseminated by local health providers.

Ninety-four individuals representing 33 community-based organizations from war-torn areas of Sri Lanka’s Northern province came together over three weeks in the town of Vavuniya to participate in workshops focused on social accountability, good governance and community needs. The workshops, held in December 2012 and January 2013, marked the first time many of these organizations had the opportunity to travel outside of the northern capital of Jaffna and interact with communities from other parts of the country.

Through USAID’s Transition Initiatives for Stabilization project, more than 20 young Somalis captured the city’s rebirth with a photography project they named My Mogadishu. Youth used cameras to capture daily life: exchanging money at a street bureau, buying charcoal in a local market.

When Somaliland’s local council elections sparked protests in the winter of 2012-2013, government representatives, women and young people used the new Aynabo community hall to discuss conflict resolution.

“Somalis value dialogue. There is a famous saying: ‘To talk is to reconcile.’ This venue is providing a healthy space to resolve conflict. Issues arising from election-related tension were discussed,” said Aynabo elder Abokor Farah Ismail.

As legislation in Somaliland thrives through increased constituent and legislator dialogue, everyone can follow the progress on Since the launch of the website in early 2013, staff have seen a steadily growing stream of visitors to the site, according to the non-profit International Republican Institute, which implemented the project with assistance from USAID. The site is part of comprehensive USAID support to elections, parliament and government responsiveness across Somaliland.

Somalia's new parliament, formed in August 2012, provides for two chambers--the upper house, which is pending formation, and the lower house--or House of the People, the country's national legislative body. This house, currently with 275 members,  is taking shape as parliament has established new committees tasked with considering policy issues, scrutinizing the progress and expenditures of the government, and analyzing legislation.

Land is the most important economic asset in Afghanistan. In rural areas, access to land is key to avoiding poverty. When a woman relinquishes her land inheritance or is precluded from owning land, her economic stability, food security, and livelihood opportunities are compromised. The USAID Land Reform in Afghanistan (LARA) Project works with the Government of Afghanistan to increase women’s land tenure security. Women’s right to inherit and own land is protected by law but is not universally understood.


Last updated: January 16, 2015