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.

Muhabbat almost didn't take the job offer. Her daughter, Shahnoza, had originally agreed to be the health outreach worker with a USAID-sponsored program for internally displaced persons in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

The Yassy community near the city of Turkistan in Southern Kazakhstan, has been swelling in size as urban residents migrate out of the city, displacing farmers, many of whom no longer have access to reliable irrigation. Mounting tensions eased after USAID helped Yassy build an irrigation system to benefit local farmers.

The vast majority of farms in Kazakhstan lack the modern knowhow to operate as effectively and efficiently. With the fall of the Soviet Union, most of the collective farms were split into small, privately owned units that cannot afford agricultural specialists, quality inputs, or modern equipment. Farms are still operated as they were at the beginning of the last century.

Krishnappa is a small farmer in a rural district of the south Indian state of Karnataka. He received assistance from a USAID-supported program to switch 3.25 acres of his 6.5 acre plot from flood irrigation to drip irrigation. This improvement reduced the use of his electric water pump from 84 hours to 25 hours a week.

Women in India who are living with HIV/AIDS are burdened not only by the disease, but also by the stigma associated with it. Sadly, many of these women never thought they were at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS — their husbands passed it on to them. After learning they were HIV-positive, some of these women were dealt another blow: their husbands left them.

Sunita’s life began to change when she met an outreach worker from a USAID-funded non-government organization, NIRMAN, which promotes HIV/AIDS awareness among women working in construction. During the information session on HIV/AIDS prevention at Khar Naka in Mumbai, the outreach worker was able to provide Sunita with help and counseling.

For years, 400,000 residents breathed air highly polluted by emissions from the 50-year-old coal-fired power plant operated by Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) - the largest private thermal power company in Eastern India. Before USAID helped revamp the plant, the city of Kolkata’s air pollution levels were among the highest in the world.

For villagers in the arid Marwar region of Rajasthan, India, decreasing groundwater levels and repeated droughts have destroyed traditional livelihoods. During the long dry season, farmers and herders get most of their water from wells. In recent years, some groundwater levels have dropped as much as 400 feet. One of the world's most densely populated arid regions, Marwar's droughts starve cattle and cause mass migration of people and their livestock. Farmers are forced to pay a high price for drinking water transported great distances by tankers, and many fall into debt taking out loans from local moneylenders.

Most of India's poorest people are subsistence farmers who have little or no access to new technology and markets for their produce. Access to water for irrigation is one of the most critical constraints that small farmers face, and in semi-arid regions like Maharashtra, small farmers struggle with scarce water resources and no access to irrigation technology that would allow them to enter high-value crop markets. Effective drip-irrigation systems have a high initial cost that most small farmers could not afford, leaving many unable to grow enough produce even to feed themselves and their families.


Last updated: January 12, 2015