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.

In January 2005, a majority of Afghan civil society organizations lacked the capacity to design quality projects and proposals or professionally liaise with donors. The Afghan Women's Educational Center is an example: although it had been in operation for 15 years, it was still managed like a new organization. There were no clear reporting lines and no long-term strategic planning to guide its activities. As a result, the center was implementing approximately five projects annually with an operating budget of $500,000.

Livestock, both for traction and for sustenance, are crucial to the development of a country’s agriculture. Afghanistan suffers from a shortage of fodder crops that are preventing the country’s farmers from realizing their full potential. The solution may lie in the production of alfalfa which is widely recognized as an important crop for its resilience, yield, and use as high-protein and high-fiber feed for farm animals.

Dasht-e-Barchi is a poor community located to the west of Kabul. Although a two-lane road was recently constructed, the streets are almost too narrow for a car to pass, and the dilapidated houses on either side of the road suggest that no one could afford to own a car here anyway. Yet there is hope for economic improvement in the community, and it resides with a vocational training program for women.

On November 10, 2002, President Hamid Karzai oversaw the groundbreaking of Afghanistan’s main highway from Kabul through Kandahar. President Karzai stated that reconstruction of the country’s principal road system is the key to Afghanistan’s economic recovery. A year later, USAID completed the rebuilding of Afghanistan's national road system (also known as the "Ring Road") which links its two largest cities and economic centers.

Major irrigation rehabilitation projects in Baghlan and Kunduz, Afghanistan have contributed to communities that are excited about their prospects for the future. USAID rehabilitated three major rural irrigation systems and returned more than 300,000 hectares of cultivated land to full irrigated production. This included de-silting and widening irrigation canals, repairing and replacing water intakes, canal banks, protection walls, turnouts, and sluice gates.

In Afghanistan, approximately 42% of deaths during childhood result from treatable and often preventable illnesses including respiratory infections and diarrhea. Working with the Afghan Ministry of Health to prevent these unnecessary deaths, USAID provided nearly fifty-four metric tons of pharmaceuticals (119,016 lbs.) for use by nineteen nongovernmental organizations (NGO) in fourteen rural Afghan provinces.

Agriculture, and grape cultivation in particular, is the centerpiece of life in Zabul Province. The farmers from this exceptionally poor province face numerous challenges on issues involving irrigation, production, farming technologies and equipment, credit, and post-harvest processing.

Afghanistan's maternal and child mortality rate is among the highest in the world, but the Taliban would not allow the training of new nurse-midwives. When the regime was ousted, only 537 skilled, trained nurse-midwives — kabilaha — remained in the country. USAID is working to triple that number and, at the same time, establish trained midwifery as a profession worthy of support and respect.

Noria Sedequi and her family of 10 lived in exile in Pakistan for eight years during the Taliban regime. They returned to Parwan Province, about 60 kilometers north of Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2001. Jobs were scarce, and Noria knew that jobs for women were even more scarce.


Last updated: January 20, 2015