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 village of Yazgulam in Gorno Badakhshan District was one of the hotbeds of Tajikistan’s civil war from 1992 to 1997. Although the war ended years ago, Yazgulam’s inhabitants were still afraid of the militants that continued to wander around the village. “Safety was the main concern. I didn’t have high hopes that this place would ever improve,” said resident Khafiz Azoraev.

A few pennies per month may mean the difference between life and death for a woman in the mountainous villages of Tajikistan. There, in such isolation, USAID and partner Mercy Corps have been helping mothers prepare for worst-case scenarios since 2009.

Saodat Shabonova and her husband were astounded by the harvest: each potato plant produced 44 tubers. Shabonova is an agriculture volunteer in the mountainous village of Kul, in eastern Tajikistan for a program funded by USAID and implemented by Mercy Corps.

With the help of USAID, Afghans are now able to access higher education opportunities in Tajikistan, its neighbor to the northeast. The joint initiative between the University of Central Asia and USAID fosters cross-border cooperation and employment opportunities between the two countries.

The old Tajik city of Isfara is famous for its apricot orchards. Apricot production is the main source of income for the population of this region, and for years the high productivity allowed exports to countries of the former Soviet Union.

The lure is steady employment and a better life, but the result is often months or years of physical and emotional abuse. It's a modern form of slavery called trafficking — the use of fraud or coercion to recruit, transport, buy and sell human beings — and it entraps as many as four million people each year.

Mayor Aniceto P. Lopez Jr. of Maasim, a town in Sarangani province in Mindanao, had a dream: he wanted his people to become economically productive and lead peaceful lives. He knew that the area’s abundant natural resources could play a major role in helping him achieve this dream. However, the lush forests that once covered the area had all but disappeared, and fields that could have been used for farming had instead served as a battleground between government soldiers and rebels.

In Mindanao, the second-larges island of the Philippines, the minority Muslim population has historically suffered from poverty. The 1960s witnessed the emergence of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), a militant group which fought for greater autonomy for the Muslim minority. In 1996, the MNLF and the Government of the Philippines signed a peace agreement. USAID, along with the Philippine Government and the MNLF, has been working to try to encourage faster economic development in the region to consolidate the peace.

Years ago, the Muntinlupa Market was a muddy and messy public market with acrid odors created by 1,235 stalls selling everything from meat and fish to vegetables. The market’s eateries, toilets, and the stall sections generated wastewater that polluted a tributary creek of Laguna Lake, one of the most vital inland bodies of water in the Philippines and a source of drinking water and freshwater fish for Metro Manila.

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Last updated: February 27, 2014