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.

The City of El Alto in Bolivia has become a focal point for social and political unrest. Much of the discontent arises from poor living conditions, low incomes, and inadequate social services. For example, recent surveys indicated that only 68% of children under one year of age in El Alto had received the third required dose of a vaccine to protect them against pertussis, tetanus, polio, hepatitis B, and Hemophilus influenza B meningitis.

Malaria affects over 3.5 million people in Bolivia each year. The Amazon basin regions of Beni and Pando have the country’s highest infection rates. In these regions, migratory worker populations, such as castañeros, or Brazil nut harvesters, run a high risk of malaria infection. Malaria is a great burden on the workers, their families, and even the country’s economy. When castañeros are sick with malaria, family income drops since workers do not earn their wages and family members stay home to care for them. In addition, the country’s Brazil nut market suffers. Bolivia supplies about 80 percent of the world’s Brazil nuts, with an annual market value of $48 million. At least 15,000 families from rural areas depend on this market for survival.

High quality, real-time data are helping Bolivian health officials carry out more effective HIV/AIDS prevention education, including counseling and testing services. While HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Bolivia in the general population have remained under 0.1 percent — a remarkable success compared to Bolivia’s neighbors — the rates are much higher in specific risk groups. One study in Santa Cruz detected a prevalence of 22 percent among high risk groups. Tracking these groups remains a high priority for the government, but effective public health programming depends on access to reliable information. Until recently, data were not automated and were sometimes incomplete. This inadequacy limited the ability to make informed and timely decisions.

COMBASE (the Bolivian Evangelical Commission) is a faith-based organization that provides health services to the low income population in the city of Cochabamba, 250 miles east of the capital, La Paz. USAID has supported the organization’s reproductive health program since 1991. COMBASE’s small hospital and five clinics offer maternal and child health services to approximately 65,000 people every year. For many, this institution is one of the few affordable medical facilities within their neighborhoods. An internal evaluation showed that the organization was in a difficult financial situation and lacked the systems needed to effectively evaluate its services, costs and sustainability prospects.

Bolivia has a high maternal mortality rate and an elevated incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Only a decade ago, topics such as family planning, reproductive health and HIV were taboo there. The citizens’ knowledge and understanding of disease transmission, consequences and cure were deficient, and in many cases inaccurate. Yet, no services were available to provide information.

A group of USAID-trained teachers from Macedonia won the European Grand Prix, part of Microsoft Corp.'s Innovative Education Forum held March 21-25, 2011, in Moscow. For the winning project, Grandma's Games, teachers from five schools collaborated to introduce today's youth to forgotten games their grandparents played.

To ensure that teachers incorporate new skills into their practice, USAID/Macedonia developed an innovative certification process for its teacher training programs. These programs no longer provide certificates for simply attending training. Instead, through a professional portfolio, teachers must first provide evidence that they are using the newly acquired skills and knowledge in their classrooms.

The Macedonian Bureau for Development of Education is a target organization of a USAID program aimed at human and institutional development. The USAID program determined that the BDE needed serious IT infrastructure improvement to best serve Macedonian students and the development of the graduation exam web portal was one of the priority projects.

Kosovo is the youngest European nation; it also has Europe's highest percentage of young. Approximately 60 percent of the population is under 27. These facts pose a stability challenge, and are worsened by an unemployment rate of approximately 75 percent.

In the medium term, having the youngest labor force in Europe could work to Kosovo's advantage, but that potential will be fruitless if a "lost generation" do not obtain competitive skills, or if they lose them due to unemployment and disillusionment.


Last updated: September 28, 2016