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.

When Mariam Jawad arrived at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in the fall semester of 2010, she entered a library for the first time in her life. She also used a computer for the first time and eventually sent her first email. For a 19-year-old woman who speaks three languages and dreams of becoming a businesswoman, this is surprising.

In the villages of Nepal, where most people live without access to health care, USAID has supported the training of 46,000 female community health volunteers (FCHVs) to deliver basic health care. These women have made Nepal the first country to deliver vitamin A supplements every six months to 3.5 million children nationwide (ages six months to five years) preventing at least 12,000 child deaths annually.

In a country where corruption and inefficiency are endemic, addressing basic problems, like disorganized government files, is a good start. In the Lalitpur District Court in the Kathmandu valley of Nepal, over 50,000 files, some of them more than 100 years old, overwhelmed the small room in which they were stored. Many files were in bad shape with missing or damaged documents.

This article describes some of the activities of USAID's Gobi Regional Growth Initiative. This project, along with its successor Gobi Regional Growth Initiative II, was implemented by Mercy Corps 1999-2008.

This article describes some of the activities of USAID's Growing Entrepreneurship Rapidly (GER) project, implemented by Global Communities (previously known as CHF International) during 2002-2009.

“We moved to the city to find jobs and be closer to opportunities,” said Suren, one of thousands of Mongolians who in recent years have made the difficult transition from the countryside to life in Mongolia’s capital city - Ulaanbaatar. Several successive harsh winters have accelerated the pace of migration from rural Mongolia to the capital city.

One-year-old Aidana had been sick for some time. Aileta, her mother, thought it was simply a cold. Then early one morning, the child developed a high temperature. Aidana’s breathing appeared to stop and she lost consciousness and became pale. Panicking, Aileta called an ambulance. The closest children’s hospital was 15 minutes away.

Jyldyz was among the first students to take the National Scholarship Test in Kyrgyzstan. When she learned that she received one of the highest scores, Jyldyz’s first thought was of her best friend Aisuluu, who graduated from the same remote village school a year earlier. The best student at her school, Aisuluu had wanted to study at the medical institute to become a doctor. Her dreams were shattered when she learned that she had failed the scholarship exam.

Kyrgyzstan is a mountainous country where only seven percent of the land is suitable for agriculture. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the previous collective farms were privatized among the communities, splitting the land into 0.04-0.20 hectare (.09 - .49 acre) allotments per person.

The yield of many crops also decreased during this transition, mainly due to the absence of agricultural knowledge of the new owners and the loss of markets.

Farmer Salijan Saibidinov owns land alongside an irrigation canal in Jalalabat Province’s Shaidan Village in Kyrgyzstan. Each spring, soon after the growing season began, Sailjan’s neighbors would throw trash onto his field while cleaning debris from the canal. His land also would flood when his neighbors overwatered their fields. Pollution and flooding were affecting farmers’ crop yields. In turn, Salijan reduced the amount of water flowing from the canal, thus causing resentment among his neighbors.


Last updated: February 17, 2015