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.

Roadside bombs kill or maim hundreds of innocent Afghans every year. The bombs, otherwise known as improvised explosive devices or IEDs, are a favorite tactic of insurgents. More often than not, it is not soldiers who are the victims but civilians.

Tamim’s family received help from a USAID project that provides assistance to civilian victims who have been harmed because of fighting between the international military and insurgents. Crucially, the project is perhaps the only one of its kind to assist civilians who suffer losses no matter whether they are accidentally harmed by international military forces, or because they are caught in the crossfire when insurgents target international troops.

The village of Sarah in Uruzgan Province was the scene of a fierce battle between coalition forces and insurgents in 2010. The battle liberated the village’s 10,000 residents, but decimated the village’s already limited and aging infrastructure, including the main bazaar. The bazaar is situated along the only road transiting from commercial centers in Kandahar and Uruzgan to distant villages in western Uruzgan. Historically, Sarah depended primarily on local and regional trade conducted at the bazaar to maintain its economic vitality. The loss of this essential marketplace during the insurgent occupation had a devastating impact on the local economy.

Almost a century ago, the British built a bridge over the Laghman River to connect the two cities. The bridge was one lane and made of metal. The rust had taken its toll on the narrow bridge and safety was a serious concern. Oncoming traffic and significant congestion on the deteriorating bridge had become a big problem.

To increase revenue from license fees, USAID developed a new business registration system and tested the system in the municipalities of Charikar and Mahmud-i-Raqi. After USAID presented the test results at a regional mayor’s conference, all the mayors requested the new system. By the end of September 2011, 13,000 businesses had already registered.

USAID turned to the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s Malaysian contingent for help in address this concern. The Malaysians worked with USAID project managers to provide intensive training in first aid to 20 tour guides and all 17 park rangers at Band-e-Amir, Afghanistan’s first official national park and a premier tourist destination 86 kilometers west of Bamyan municipality.

Due to its insecurity and the presence of insurgent elements, Baghlan has become a priority province for USAID. One of the primary grievances in the region is the lack of economic opportunities for youth and the unemployed. To address this concern and create the opportunity for community-government cooperation, the community requested USAID funding for small business capacity-building training.

For a country that has endured endless war and lawlessness, Afghanistan is bound to have a few remaining rebels. One such rebel still roams the rugged terrain of Khost Province in eastern Afghanistan. At first glance, Bibi Hakmeena’s towering stature and dominating demeanor seem perfectly in balance against the powerful cascades of the jagged mountain landscape she calls home. But, it does not take long to realize that Bibi is no ordinary rebel.

For years, businessmen throughout Kandahar have lamented the poor condition of their sidewalks. For many businesses, foot traffic is the primary way to connect with customers. But if the shop entrance is mud and dirt, customers will not go in.


Last updated: January 12, 2015