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.

Along with other utility services, reliable telecommunications enable businesses to flourish and meet the needs of citizens. Faced with an aging analog infrastructure, Egypt saw an opportunity to increase its people's standard of living by modernizing its system. With support from USAID, Telecom Egypt switched to digital, improving and expanding telecommunications networks in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities. Hundreds of thousands of new telephone lines have been installed, which now serve more than four million Egyptians, even in the poorest areas.

Farmers and residents living along the canals in El-Gededa om El-Resh and El-Seds in Egypt’s eastern El-Sharkia province, used to throw their garbage and sewage into the open canals. This would pollute the water and clog up the water flow, depriving downstream farmers of water when they needed it for their crops. Farmers frequently tried to compensate for the lack of water by using ground water supplies. The problem was that the ground water in the region is highly saline. Using that water deteriorated the soil and brought low crop yields.

Alexandria’s sewer network, pumping stations, and treatment plants were falling apart. Untreated sewage formed ponds and flooded city streets. Fourteen outfalls were disposing raw sewage along the beaches of Alexandria into the Mediterranean Sea, contaminating both the sea and the beaches.

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.


Last updated: January 12, 2015