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 the Middle East and North Africa region, religious leaders are essential actors in a successful response to HIV/AIDS as they have legitimacy and a durable presence in local communities. They are uniquely positioned to increase awareness of routes of transmission, reduce the stigma and discrimination attached to HIV/AIDS and reinforce the religious values found in both regionally dominant religions, Islam and Christianity. While conservative social norms have kept the rates of HIV/AIDS infection down, they may also be responsible for the lack of prevention because taboos prevent frank discussion of prevention methods and stand in the way of testing and medical treatment.

USAID supports the Government of Egypt's neonatal and safe motherhood programs by establishing essential obstetric care and neonatal services in public hospitals in nine Upper Egypt governorates. The Healthy Mother/Healthy Child project involves upgrading delivery and operating rooms, as well as neonatal units of general and district hospitals, where women are admitted with life threatening emergencies related to childbirth. These activities have saved the lives of thousands of Egyptian women and babies.

El Shahid Ahmed Shaalan Primary School, in the heavily industrialized area of East Shoubra El-Kheima, has approximately 750 pupils between ages 5 and 12. USAID assisted the government of Egypt in closing down polluting industries that caused serious health hazards in the neighborhood. A related, second USAID-funded project identified the school as a polluted site that posed serious health hazards due to the presence of lead and other heavy metals from the nearby closed industries.

Before receiving support from a USAID project, employees in the Alexandria and Mansoura Courts of First Instance’s typing pool would receive from the judges handwritten decisions, which they would type on manual typewriters and have reviewed by the judges prior to signing. This laborious process slowed the adjudication of cases because errors meant documents required a complete retyping on antiquated equipment.

Farming families in the Mantaro valley of Peru’s central Junin region have been cultivating crops like potatoes and grains for centuries. So, when USAID suggested that some switch to a new crop, the farmers were curious to learn more. 

Agriculture is the way of life for many Andean communities, and the mountainous region of Ayacucho is no exception. Farmers there cultivate lands that depend mostly on rainfall for water. Yet in recent years, droughts have been occurring more frequently in the region, creating a demand for irrigation water. Moreover, since the farmers depend on rainfall, this usually limits them to cultivating just one crop each year, making it impossible for farmers to meet local demand for grains and produce.

USAID helped Aicacolor install the first bixin factory in Peru – one of the only five in the world. Aicacolor is a Peruvian enterprise dedicated to the production and commercialization of natural colors for the food industry with a focus on dairy products. Bixine and norbixine, natural colorants extracted from the annatto tree, are used to give color to processed products such as oil, cheese, margarine, mayonnaise, and yogurt.

Tomasa, a traditional midwife for the past seven years, lives in a small community called Villa Constitution near Caaguazu City in Paraguay. As a midwife, she has seen much joy which comes with birth but also many problems and trouble.

Not too long ago, the Paraguayan municipality of Ñemby was struggling to regulate businesses and property, collect taxes and repair infrastructure in a way that satisfied the needs of citizens. Located 10 miles south of Paraguay's capital Asuncion, Ñemby was facing a financial crisis like one suffered by a previous administration, which led to five months of unpaid salaries for public workers and more than $200,000 in debt.

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Last updated: January 06, 2015