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.

Mansoura City, the capital of Dakahlia Governorate in Egypt with nearly 900,000 residents, was suffering from a drinking water shortage. Potable water demands were not being met and the people had to install water tanks that were not being regularly cleaned. Many of the residents suffered from kidney failure.

Ne’ma lives in the poor village of Menyet El Heit with her parents and her five siblings. “When I was a little kid learning to make my first steps, a pot of boiling water fell over my face and scarred it badly. My parents didn’t care to have me treated as plastic surgery cost a fortune. Since then, I covered my face with a big scarf to keep people from teasing me. It really hurt when someone commented. It felt like I went through the same accident again with every glance. I never played with friends or went out of my home. I never went to school,” she said.

Egyptians rate inadequate solid waste management as the top priority for urban environmental issues. Sub-standard solid waste management (SWM) systems have a serious negative impact on both public health and economic development Open burning of solid waste contributes to air pollution and increased respiratory problems. Illegal dumping of trash in public areas attracts pests and vermin, escalating the probability of contracting diseases. Improper management of solid waste, and its commingling with medical and hazardous wastes, lead to serious health problems, lost workdays, and decreased labor productivity.

In Gabala, a village in Egypt's Fayoum governorate, cows and buffalo were generally unhealthy and suffered from high death rates due to a lack of vaccinations and imbalanced feeding. Rations given to the animals during their fattening period consisted only of ready-made pellets and some ground corn. This lack of protein limited their daily weight gain to about 1 kilogram a day, extending the fattening period from a standard five months to six or seven months. Farmers also used to purchase their animals from the market not knowing their exact weight and not relying on specific criteria.

When USAID helped start Egypt’s first HIV/AIDS program in 1997, little was known about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Egypt. The program aimed to strengthen the capacity and infrastructure of public and private organizations in areas such as voluntary counseling and testing, behavioral surveillance surveys, outreach to at-risk groups, and providing care for those living with HIV. As local capacity to implement effective HIV/AIDS strategies has grown, USAID strives to ensure that the knowledge and experience acquired there can be used to help other countries develop the capacity to fight HIV/AIDS

The Shoubra El Kheima area north of Cairo is severely polluted due to decades of hazardous emissions from metal smelters and foundries, including lead, arsenic, and mercury. Before USAID’s involvement, these industries produced more than 30 times the international limits, threatening the health of the local population. Yet surveys showed that most residents were unaware of the dangers, especially from lead, a powerful neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, religious leaders are essential actors in a successful response to HIV/AIDS as they have legitimacy and a durable presence in local communities. They are uniquely positioned to increase awareness of routes of transmission, reduce the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS and reinforce the religious values found in both regionally dominant religions, Islam and Christianity. While conservative social norms have kept the rates of HIV/AIDS infection down, they may also be responsible for the lack of prevention because taboos prevent frank discussion of prevention methods and stand in the way of testing and medical treatment.

USAID supports the Government of Egypt's neonatal and safe motherhood programs by establishing essential obstetric care and neonatal services in public hospitals in nine Upper Egypt governorates. The Healthy Mother/Healthy Child project involves upgrading delivery and operating rooms, as well as neonatal units of general and district hospitals, where women are admitted with life threatening emergencies related to childbirth. These activities have saved the lives of thousands of Egyptian women and babies.

El Shahid Ahmed Shaalan Primary School, in the heavily industrialized area of East Shoubra El-Kheima, has approximately 750 pupils between ages 5 and 12. USAID assisted the government of Egypt in closing down polluting industries that caused serious health hazards in the neighborhood. A related, second USAID-funded project identified the school as a polluted site that posed serious health hazards due to the presence of lead and other heavy metals from the nearby closed industries.


Last updated: December 31, 2014