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 refurbished water kiosk not only brought water to the people, it brought the central government to the people. Representatives of the national water authority worked closely with community members to complete the work as well as devise a plan for maintenance and sustainability. These relationships have restored faith in the government, and the community is now participating in plans for improving the city, including restoring a public market aroundone of the water kiosks.

Bacchus lives on the east bank of Guyana’s Demerara River, thirty miles from the capital of Georgetown. He takes his sweet cassava and sweet potatoes to his farm gate and unloads his harvest to a buyer. It was hard to get by. He did not have any impact on prices despite efforts to improve quality. He constantly fought to make a reasonable living.

Brenda, a 25-year-old mother, attended her first antenatal visit for her second pregnancy. During the group counseling, the health visitor discussed HIV/AIDS transmission from a mother to her child and ways to reduce this transmission. Brenda, who was about twelve weeks pregnant, underwent individual pre-test counseling on HIV and agreed to take the HIV test.

Few topics may seem as uninteresting to Caribbean teenagers as market economics, yet few are likely to be as critical to their future. This is why USAID helped sponsor a month-long educational campaign in Guyana in February 2006 that aimed to educate young Guyanese about an important step the Caribbean community had taken: the launching of a single market.

In the 1980’s, the United States passed laws requiring all fresh-caught shrimp sold there to be caught on boats equipped with "turtle excluder devices" known as TEDs. The device helps prevent turtles from being trapped in shrimp nets. A metal grid with openings is attached to the trawling net. Larger animals, such as sea turtles, can easily escape, while the shrimp remain caught.

John is a special program officer and president of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association’s (GRPA) Youth Advocacy Movement. GRPA is a non-governmental organization funded by USAID. Before taking on this leadership role, John had little experience educating the community about HIV/AIDS.

The poultry market in the Caribbean Community's 15 member countries is valued at an estimated $350 million. The size of this market signals exciting prospects for the growth of Guyana's poultry sector. But, Guyana's poultry farmers cannot begin exporting poultry until they meet strict sanitary and health standards and regulations imposed by other member states.

Over the past twenty years, inefficient systems in the justice sector and underpaid, inexperienced staff have led to a massive backlog of cases before the courts in Guyana. This has significantly increased the length of time between indictment and the actual trial. In many cases, individuals may serve more time in prison waiting to go to trial than the eventual sentence time – not to mention the injustice to those who are acquitted. Currently, there are approximately 15,000 civil and criminal cases before the courts, some pending for more than seven years. In Guyana ‘justice delayed is truly justice denied’ and has spawned widespread dissatisfaction and frustration among citizens.

In the remote Rupununi region of Guyana, peanut farming dominates the local economy. Farmers depend upon the crop as their main source of income, and newer agricultural techniques have boosted production from 1,100 pounds per acre to over 2,500 in four years. With rising production, Guyanese farmers can now supply not just local markets, but also export markets in the Caribbean. However, peanut exports have been constrained by food safety concerns. In particular, the local crop needs to be tested for aflatoxins, a group of carcinogenic toxins that occur in the soil. Guyanese farmers cannot sell peanuts unless they are certified as free of all aflatoxins. Current food safety testing and certification mechanisms cannot keep up with the increased demand for testing, leaving peanut harvests ineligible for export.

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Last updated: January 12, 2015