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.

Farmers and residents living along canals Egypt’s eastern El-Sharkia province have long used their open canal system almost as a sewer — people often threw their garbage into the canal and there were no organized efforts to keep the canals clean. This would pollute the water and clog up the water flow, depriving downstream farmers of water when they needed it for their crops.

It all started one day when a handful of farmers noticed a change in the color and odor of the canal water in El-Goda, in Egypt’s eastern El-Sharkia province. They reported their findings to Mohamed Hussein, the head of the El-Goda canal water user association. Mr. Hussein then arranged a meeting with Ahmad Mahmoud, an engineer and the director of the integrated water management district to identify the problem.

Abd-El Reheem Ali, head of El-Sharakah Canal Water Users Association, knows how important women are as members of his association. It was through their efforts that the community cleaned up its canal, improving everyone’s health, as well as the farmers’ crops.

Literacy classes in the El Marg district in Cairo, one of eight districts where USAID supports education reform in Egypt, have taken a new turn. “Learning carnivals”, a concept developed in close collaboration between the national Adult Education Authority (AEA) and USAID, makes literacy classes more active and enjoyable for learners. Not only are classes more fun, the carnivals encourage newcomers to join integrated literacy classes, which teach both literacy and life skills, such as child nutrition, together.

It’s not often that children are aware or even interested in their school’s administrative matters. Not so in Komombo in Egypt’s Aswan Governorate. If you want to know what is going on with a local school Board of Trustees (or BOT), just ask a five year-old. Komombo has been gripped with BOT election fever, its effect seeping into everyday life.

Shaymaa’s shy smile grows into a grin when she shows her father the artwork she brought home from school. Her scrapbook is a collection of brightly colored images from her eight-year-old world – her school, her teacher, her best friend, the family portrait.

Shaymaa is one of 182 children in Komombo in Egypt’s Aswan Governorate receiving scholarships through the local Community Education Committee, which covers annual tuition, two uniforms, shoes, stationery, and a school bag.

It has been said that no one fights like families, but this need not be the case. To promote family stability, Egypt passed a law providing for mediation in family disputes. To properly implement the law, the Ministry of Justice requested USAID to provide training for mediation staff and infrastructure improvements at courts where mediations are held.

Until recently, the Egyptian judiciary was strictly a male preserve. In 2003, with the direct appointment of the first female judge, Dr. Tahani El Gebali, to the constitutional court, Egypt had only one female out of approximately 9,300 judges.

Recognizing the need to diversify the judiciary, USAID focused on integrating women as part of its efforts to improve the efficiency and transparency of Egypt’s civil and commercial courts.

Educating schoolchildren about environmental issues is challenging but essential in Shoubra El Kheima, a densely populated suburb of Cairo. The area has long suffered from severe pollution due to nearby industries, including metal smelters that emit hazardous materials such as lead.

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Last updated: August 19, 2013