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.

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.

Frustrated with the lack of transparency in local governance, as well as evident corruption among public officials, residents of Capitan Miranda, a town in Paraguay’s southern region of Itapúa, joined forces to create a local citizen watchdog called the “Zero Impunity” group.

In the heart of the heavily populated Mbocayaty neighborhood in Villa Elisa, in southwest Paraguay, an eight-meters-deep ditch had formed in the midst of a large, sandy quarry. The ditch had families worried — it had become an unsafe and unhealthy place. It had also become an unsanitary and improvised dump site for garbage. Stray animals, disease, and erosion posed risks to both nearby dwellings and the people who lived in the simple homes alongside the quarry.

In 2003, the municipality of Villarrica, Paraguay installed a custom-made, computerized income information system under the guidance of a USAID-funded project to improve municipal governance. The system standardized and integrated municipal records on properties, property owners, and tax collections.

The town of Ñemby was immersed in a financial crisis in 2002: the municipality had large debts, salaries to civil servants were five months behind, many taxes were not being collected, and community services were minimal. Concerned about the future of the municipality, the mayor invited a USAID-sponsored program to help Ñemby fix its finances and improve long-term governance. He also called on citizens to help him bring about real and lasting change.

In 2002, the municipality of Limpio was going through a financial crisis and the mayor sought help from USAID. In order to improve city revenues, the mayor wanted to expedite the collection of taxes from businesses in the area.

To some people, recycling boils down to merely separating recyclables from garbage to drop off into colorful bins. For the “gancheros” of Asuncion, Paraguay, recycling is a way of life.

Living in and off of landfills, gancheros, named after the large hook (or “gancho” in Spanish) of their garbage-separating poles, undertake back breaking work recycling amid the most difficult, sub-human conditions.

Father Juan de la Vega is a senior Roman Catholic priest, strongly committed to the promotion of human rights, and a highly respected ethics professor at a prestigious local university. Recently, a well-known civil and commercial judge obtained her doctorate in juridical science with a thesis on judicial ethics allegedly plagiarizing several scholars, including de la Vega’s publications.


Last updated: November 14, 2017