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 not only cause serious problems for international military forces, but result in hundreds of civilian deaths and injuries each year. One of these bombs killed ten-year-old Zarif’s father when fighting erupted between the Taliban and the international military forces. Only months before, his younger brother had died in a Taliban attack. The deaths of his brother and father were bitter emotional blows for the family and the loss of his father spelled severe financial hardship. For families living on the margin, the loss or injury to a breadwinner can plunge them into desperate circumstances.

Afghanistan’s information technology sector is one of the country’s success stories. There has been a huge expansion in the use of mobile phone technology and Internet penetration in recent years. In 2001 Afghanistan’s communications infrastructure was almost non-existent, whereas today most Afghans have access to a mobile phone. The country still faces, however, huge social problems related to poverty, illiteracy, and lack of electricity. With the extraordinary growth in new technology, Afghans need to find new technology solutions to its age-old problems. 

Founded in 1931, Kabul University is the oldest and largest institution of higher learning in Afghanistan. The university is recognized internationally and its credentials are renowned but its rich culture, history, and academic excellence have been devastated by decades of wars and instability.

USAID, through its Afghanistan Infrastructure Rehabilitation Program, recently completed construction of the Regak Bridge located in the volatile Uruzgan province. Straddling the Shakur River, the bridge was constructed in an area faced with border disputes, insurgency, drug trafficking, and river flooding due to snow melt and rain.

Six-year-old Sayeeda and her best friend Fareeda were out playing near their home when bullets started whizzing past them. A shoot-out had erupted between insurgent fighters and international troops. Both girls ran for home. Moments later, Sayeeda was shot in the chest. As Fareeda stopped to help her friend, she also was shot.

Sperwan, a village located in Panjwai District of Kandahar Province, relies on agriculture for its livelihood. It is also an area of vital significance for the region’s security. Residents are often the victims of harassment and intimidation inflicted by anti-government forces. These distractions hinder progress on the municipality’s efforts to rebuild the rural infrastructure. When local farmers summoned the courage to approach the district governor with a request to repair their canal, they learned that their government lacked the resources to assist with this initiative.

For most farmers in Afghanistan, cash crops do not yield a high cash return, a problem compounded by the fact that many farmers in a given area grow the same crops. This increases local competition and makes the produce more difficult to market. USAID is introducing timber and orchards in Badakhshan as an alternative to traditional vegetable farming and a way to break out of this cycle.

Ten children were killed and four injured when a suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into an international military convoy in the district of Tirin Kot in Uruzgan Province. One other civilian died.

As is common throughout Afghanistan, the city of Jalalabad does not have an updated urban plan, and until the city approves a new one, the existing 50-year old plan remains the official city blueprint. For both the municipality and citizens alike, this means that community needs and municipal goals cannot be achieved, services are not adequately provided, and land use goes unchecked.


Last updated: January 12, 2015